SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Snow is flying at Great Bear as it prepares for the 2021 season. Unlike past years, the slopes aren’t quite ready for skiers yet.
“Typically, we start making snow the first part of December,” Great Bear general manager Dan Grider said. “Takes us about 7-10 days depending on how cold it gets to get enough snow on the hill to get open. Obviously, it’s been a little warmer this year. You know, there’s no snow on the ground to help keep the temperatures down, so we’re just kind of hurrying up and waiting.”
Great Bear has to wait until the temperature dips below 20 degrees to start making snow. They turn off the machines when it warms up to 27 degrees. Crews need to get an 18-inch base down before opening.
“Ideally, what I’d like to see is daytime highs in the teens, single digits overnight,” Grider said. “That would be perfect. We could go right around the clock, 24-hour snowmaking. We’d get it open in no time.”
Great Bear does not have an official opening date quite yet, but with favorable weather conditions and snow making, they hope to be operating by the end of December.
“We can’t wait to open for skiing, snowboarding and tubing,” Great Bear director of communications Alexa Giebink said. “We know our guests are really eager. We’re making snow whenever the temperatures allows and we’re busy getting ready for all of our guests.”
They have around 1,000 season pass holders this year, which is about 200 more than last year. Great Bear is hosting an open house for season pass holders this Saturday.
“It is just an opportunity for them to come pick up their season passes. Rental season pass holders get pre-fit for their equipment. We’ll have the bar open, so beer, wine, soda, popcorn. For them to kind of see what to expect this winter,” Giebink said.
“You know, because of the pandemic, we are requiring face coverings,” Grider said. “You know, restricted seating, social distancing, all that. Also gives people an opportunity to get their pictures taken, get their gear sized, just come on out, check out the bear.”
For updated information on Great Bear’s opening date, trail status, COVID procedures and more, you can visit their website.