Great Bear draws about 272,00 visitors over seven seasons Original


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — It’s weather or not for Great Bear Ski Valley in Sioux Falls.

Most often over the past seven winters, it’s been favorable weather.

The city park has drawn about 272,000 visitors from the 2012-2013 through the 2018-2019 season, according to a city of Sioux Falls audit and Great Bear manager Don Grider. That’s at least the estimated population of Sioux Falls (183,000) and a few more.

Grider has been working at the ski park since 1992. From 1992, the highest number of visitors was about 50,000 in 2011, he said.

The park drew about 10,000 visitors in 1992, Grider said.

Grider said the park usually plans on about 90 potential snow and tube days. That would run the season through St. Patrick’s Day.

Throughout the past seven seasons, the park has had an average of 82 ski days and an average of 69 tube days. 

The park is open year-round but attendance is not taken during the off-winter season.

Sioux Falls Mayor Paul Ten Haken had earmarked $1.6 million of city money for a new chair lift at Great Bear. The recommendation was included in his 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan.

Grider said the city still plans to dedicate sales tax money to Great Bear but not as much as originally planned. Grider said the city will provide about $877,000 of the needed $1.6 million for a new chair lift.

Great Bear will raise about $1 million toward the cost, Grider said. That’s slightly more than the $800,000 the CIP said would be needed in private donations.

The existing chair lift was installed in 1981, according to the CIP.

Check out the conditions at Great Bear for yourself by visiting the Live Cam page on

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