A half-inch of wet, slushy snow fell on Minneapolis last night. It followed a warm, almost-70s weekend. It reminded me of our trip to the Black Hills last May. More specifically, it reminded me of our hellish ride through Spearfish Canyon, in the snow. (You can read more about it in my book, Ride the Black Hills.)
The weather pattern was similar, with a freakishly warm week followed by a return to late winter/early spring. It was an excellent example how quickly weather in the Black Hills can change, not only as you move up or down in elevation, but from one minute to the next. And how the “shoulder seasons” of spring and fall can fool you with the promise of summer.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit the Paha Sapa during those seasons. But you should be prepared with base layers, windproof outer layers and rain gear. It’s not unusual for a thunderstorm — or even a tornado — to spring up out of nowhere, according to the South Dakota Department of Tourism. Summer mornings in the mountains can be chilly.
If you’re planning to ride the Black Hills this summer, be prepared for what Mother Nature can throw at you. Stay safe!