Springtime in South Dakota can be unpredictable. One day, it’s 70 degrees, calm and sunny. The next day, it’s 40 degrees, blustery and rainy or even snowy.
That unpredictability could be considered a negative, but I consider it a positive. The nice days are much more anticipated and appreciated than they would be without the bad days.
After a long South Dakota winter, people here are eager to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Following are my top 5 springtime outdoor activities in the state.
1. Finding pasque flowers. The state flower blooms early in the spring, often on hillsides. The fuzzy, purpley little flowers look somewhat out of place on the rolling, windswept plains of South Dakota, especially in early spring when nothing else is fully green. That contrasting quality makes them all the more beautiful.
2. Kayaking and canoeing. Springtime is when many prairie rivers and creeks are fullest, right after the winter snowmelt. Paddling on flooded waterways can be dangerous, but the right amount of water can make for an enjoyable day-long paddle on a stream that might be too low to paddle the rest of the year. There are few things more peaceful than getting out on the water during a cool spring morning before the mist has lifted.
3. Hiking. Springtime is a great time to hike, especially if you can find trails that aren’t wet from the snowmelt and spring rains. Springtime South Dakota weather can be mild and great to walk in, and the bugs don’t show up until summertime.
4. Birding. As I mentioned in a recent post, there are great bird-watching opportunities along the birding trail in northeast South Dakota. The 38 trail sites are home to more than 300 species of birds.
5. Turkey hunting. Wild turkeys are abundant in parts of South Dakota, including the breaks along the James River. The spring season, during which hunters cloak themselves in full camouflage and sit silenty awaiting their prey, opens to applications in mid-January with a late February deadline. The season traditionally starts on the second Saturday in April and runs through the third Sunday in May.