SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Our stretch of warm weather this past week has allowed the lush landscape at state parks across South Dakota to start recovering following the long, harsh winter. That includes Good Earth State Park at Blood Run southeast of Sioux Falls.

John Lockwood of Sioux Falls escapes the routine of life in the city by taking soothing strolls through Good Earth State Park.

“I can pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t exist and so I’m ready to go back to it when it actually happens,” Lockwood said.

Lockwood says he’s surprised that the park weathered the winter as well as it has.

“The river’s up, the water table’s high and I was expecting it to be a little muddy, and there’s a couple spots, but not just a whole lot,” Lockwood said.

Good Earth has had minor flooding along the Big Sioux River that straddles the park, impacting some of the hiking trails in the low-lying areas.

“But I’d say about 60-percent of our trails are dry and accessible right now and the rest of kind of muddy and there might be a little water in places,” Good Earth State Park Manager Jim Henning said.

Elsewhere, the prairie grasses are still matted-down by the thick snow that covered the park.

“We’re already starting to see that green-up and it will be just fine, prairie grass is pretty resilient,” Henning said.

Good Earth is South Dakota’s newest state park. And the heavy snow from over the winter will weigh on the memories of the staff.

“Since I’ve been here for eight years, this was definitely the snowiest winter that we’ve dealt with, we were dealing with snow, it felt like, on a daily basis,” Henning said.

The snow also tested the survival instincts of the park’s wildlife.

“A lot of deer were hanging around our bird feeders looking for every spare scrap they could find, but you know, a lot of them made it through and we’re having a lot of folks already sighting wildlife this spring,” Henning said.

Bird-watching gets into much sharper focus as winter gives way to spring.

“We’re always looking to be the first ones to see turkey vultures every year, or the first ones to see red-winged blackbirds, and then watching for the spring wildflowers that some of the parks just close by are starting to see some of those, so I’m thinking in the next week or so we’ll start seeing some of the spring wildflowers blooming out here, too,” Henning said.

The worst of the winter storms kept people from visiting the park because they were hunkered down at home.

“But as soon as the weather settled after the storm, they were out here hiking in the snow and a lot of snowshoeing this year, which was really neat to see,” Henning said.

Park management expects Good Earth will really bounce-back with a long stretch of warm, dry weather, and with that, will come even more visitors.

“Anytime of year, it’s a great place to be out here. It’s always a good place for people to come and reconnect with nature,” Henning said.

“The winter’s winter. And if you stop and think about it, alright, it was relatively bad, but it really wasn’t. We’re from South Dakota! We’re used to snow, we’re used to harsh conditions,” Lockwood said.

The late winter makes visitors more appreciative of nature’s resilience, where beauty emerges from the snowmelt as spring stirs in every corner of the park.

“It just kind of feels like a fresh start and I think everyone feels that when they come out,” Henning said.

There’s another sure sign that spring has arrived at Good Earth. The park’s outdoor concert series kicks of next Sunday, May 14th, with a performance by the Hegg Brothers. The weekly concerts through the summer are free to attend.