The Black Hills Travel Blog

Baby, It’s Dark Outside

By • Jan 2nd, 2013 • Category: Discoveries, Outdoor Adventure

We’ve finally made it past the shortest day of the year, but if you’re like me it’s dark before you go to work and dark when you get off of work. A quick Google search tells me it would take an act of Congress to abolish Daylight Saving Time. I’m not holding my breath. So in the last few weeks I’ve found several ways to embrace the long hours of darkness that fall upon us in the Black Hills this time of year.

1- Adapt “daytime” hobbies into nighttime activities
For me, a day on the bike is never a bad day.The mountain biking community has exploded since I first left the area, and there is a reason. While it’s easy to let your bike collect dust in the winter, it doesn’t have to. An investment in a good headlamp pays dividends. Not only can you still ride at night, it’s a whole new sport! An added benefit is the satisfaction from knowing you cheated the season and still got a ride in despite the conditions.

Beans stands guard during a break on Buzzard’s Roost trail. Photo: AJ Miller

The same principle applies to hiking…

The infamous Poet’s Table in Custer State Park becomes an entirely new place in the dark.

2- Make the best of winter sports

I had almost forgotten what snow looked like before our recent flurries. Yes, we’re experiencing a drought, but our ski resorts are open!

Skiers enjoy the Kussy Run at Terry Peak on Saturday. Photo: Pam Altepeter

…and don’t forget that if the turns get too icy, they do serve beer!

The Dark Horse was equally popular on Saturday. Photo: Sarah Krysl

3-Experiment with nighttime photography

You don’t have to be a professional to shoot photos at night. Many of today’s point-and-shoot cameras allow you to control f/stop and shutter speeds. Night photography can be a great way to get outside when it’s dark. If you own an SLR and can’t seem to get off that “auto” setting, grab a tripod and just have some fun! It’s a great way to learn about your camera and experiment with different types of light.

I wouldn’t recommend trying this at home, but if you must, send me a message and I’ll tell you how I did it.

The Rapid City skyline at night from Dinosaur Park.

4- Take advantage of weekend daylight

Don’t forget that we still average 275 days of sunshine a year! I make an effort to spend as many hours as possible outside on the weekend and my dog is thanking me.

Max refuses to come inside when there is snow on the ground

5- Cheer on the home team

As an old school 90’s Rapid City Thrillers fan, it’s exciting to see the area is able to support a sports team once again. GO RUSH!!!

Photo: Mike Schroeder

6- Kick back with a warm beverage

I’m starting to believe that my coffee habit has more to do with how much I love a warm drink in hand than caffeine dependence. Since moving back to South Dakota, I’m  frequenting all the new coffee shops. The Seattle’s Best in the Hotel Alex Johnson is my favorite so far- friendly staff, good coffee and plenty of room!

Photo credit: tonx / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

7- Organize a weekly event with friends 

It doesn’t even really matter what it is, having a weekly scheduled time to get together with friends is a must. I find that a weekly visit to the Yoga Studio keeps me sane through the week.

Photo credit: Lucy Boynton / Foter / CC BY

8- Spend some time in Main Street Square

Just try frowning when you’re ice skating.

Skaters enjoy the Main Street Square Ice Rink Sunday night.

9- Try a new restaurant 

Rapid City has seen an influx of locally-owned restaurants and bars. Let’s keep it this way by supporting them.

The garlic basil naan at The Everest Cuisine keeps me coming back

10- When stuck inside, make it fun!

There will always be those days that it’s just too nasty to be outside. Just because you can’t play outside doesn’t mean you can’t play inside! Use the harsh weather to prepare for spring.

Tiffiny Durham bouldering at the Athletic Club in Rapid City

About the Author

is a Black Hills native. Growing up just outside of Hill City, his fondest memories involve exploring his Black Hills backyard with his black lab Dodger. Colorado called his name after high school so he moved to the Western Slope where he earned his BA in Mass Communication and raced for the mountain and road cycling programs at Colorado Mesa University. As is the case with countless others, the Black Hills pulled him back in. He recently left the brown cloud of Denver to return home where he works for Black Hills, Badlands & Lakes Association. In his spare time, Mat enjoys pedaling bicycles, playing music, cooking, hiking and trying to be a climber.
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