New prices at state parks

The following fee changes were approved by the Game, Fish and Parks Commission earlier this fall and will go into effect on Dec. 1.
  • Lodge fees will increase by $25 per night.
    • Rates as of Dec. 1:
      • Mina Lake – $160 per night
      • Shadehill – $160 per night
      • Oahe Downstream -$150 per night
      • Lake Thompson – $225 per night
      • Newton Hills - $225 per night
      • Palisades - $225 per night
    • Lodges operated by private concessionaires (located at Angostura, Custer State Park, Roy Lake, and Lewis and Clark) are not affected.
    • Lodge reservations are currently being taken for all arrivals in 2011.
  • Campsite and camping cabin fees will increase by $2 per night.
  • Picnic shelter reservation fees will increase to $20 per day. Use of picnic shelters is free, but a reservation guarantees availability for group gatherings.
  • Custer State Park has eliminated its per person fee. Vehicles entering the park will need a $15 per vehicle pass or a $10 per motorcycle pass.
  • Annual park entrance licenses and daily fees at parks other than Custer will not change.

Revenue generated will be used for park operations in light of an anticipated reduction in state general fund support, higher utility costs and a multi-year effort to combat an infestion of mountain pine beetles in Custer State Park.

– From a state Game, Fish and Parks Department news release.

South Dakota Tourism celebrating top dogs

Fall is pheasant hunting season in South Dakota. Birds are easy to find, but a good hunting dog is a rare treasure. The look in a dog’s eyes that says, “Take me hunting” is hard to resist. That’s why South Dakota Tourism is on the hunt to reward the best dogs.

The “Take Me Hunting” photo contest launched on October 4, as a weekly photo contest on South Dakota Tourism’s Facebook page. Fans are encouraged to post pictures of their dog. In the first week of the contest, 143 photos were submitted. In the 6 weeks that the contest has been active, 325 photos have been submitted and South Dakota Tourism’s Facebook page has gained 500 fans.

The contest is in the seventh week of the eight week long photo contest. Each weekly winner is awarded a weekly prize consisting of dog treats, an orange “Take Me Hunting” dog collar, a stuffed bird and a collapsible water bowl. Each of the eight weekly winners will also be eligible for the grand prize of a $100 Cabela’s gift card.

To enter a photo in the contest, go to www.facebook.com/SouthDakotaTourism and upload a photo of your dog. Hunting dogs are encouraged, but all pooches are welcome.

-From a South Dakota Tourism news release

Peak season tourism yields positive results

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Summer tourists have left, but the impact of their travel is still driving economic growth in Rapid City. Occupancy rates, travels sales and booked travel packages to Rapid City all saw substantial increases in June, July and August.

The occupancy rate at Business Improvement District (BID) properties within Rapid City rose 8.5 percent over June through August 2009. Travel sales booked through Black Hills Central Reservations for Rapid City lodging and attractions increased 15.6 percent over the same three-month period. July alone saw a 25.6 percent increase in Black Hills Central Reservation sales.

“We are very happy with this summer’s tourism revenues,” says Michelle Lintz, executive director of the Rapid City Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Feelings about the economy may be uncertain, but this summer’s tourism numbers show that people have not halted their travel spending.”

Several travel trends can be found in the peak season tourism data, including more late booking and increased motorcoach travel. Tour operators and hospitality businesses noticed a marked increase in late bookings this summer. Hotel owners reported a large number of walk-in guests. The high volume of last minute customers allowed proprietors to maintain higher room prices and to fill a greater number of rooms and properties.

An increase in contacts with the motorcoach industry also expanded opportunities for group travel. Tour operators sought out unique destinations and attractions with added value as they planned itineraries, including cost effective options such as factory tours and local events.

“Rapid City has so much to offer travelers,” says Lintz. “Watching trends and tracking visitor spending helps us to continue to attract visitors and encourage economic growth.”

The Rapid City Convention & Visitors Bureau monitors and reports developments and trends in the tourism industry each year. The Rapid City CVB is a division of the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce. The CVB’s mission is to market the Rapid City area as a convention and leisure destination and to promote economic growth that will enhance the area for visitors and residents.

Taken from a Visit Rapid City Press Release.

45th annual Buffalo Roundup

Taken from a S.D. Office of Tourism press release

PIERRE, S.D. – From five spared animals that once were nearly extinct to a substantial 1,300 head today, the collection of buffalo at Custer State Park has swelled to one of the largest publicly-owned herds in the world.

Gov. Mike Rounds invites you to catch a glimpse of those majestic beasts at the 45th Annual Buffalo Roundup in CusterState Park on Sept. 27.

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Huge tribal national park proposed

SIOUX FALLS (AP) — Thousands of acres taken from the Oglala Sioux Tribe nearly 70 years ago would be returned and managed as a tribal national park under a proposal from the National Park Service.

The change involves the 208 square-mile South Unit that’s part of Badlands National Park in southwest South Dakota.
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September declared “Photography Month”

PIERRE, S.D. – More than 100 photographers from across the nation are expected in the Black Hills this month. They’re coming for the first-ever Black Hills Photo Shootout, a two and half day photography festival that includes scenic photo walks, indoor and outdoor workshops, and social events. The Shootout is Sept.17, 18 and 19. Festival activities are planned in several Black Hills communities.

In recognition of the Shootout and South Dakota’s vast fall photo opportunities, Gov. Mike Rounds has proclaimed September “Photography Month” in South Dakota.

The proclamation notes the large number of great photo opportunities South Dakota offers during the month of September, such as the Buffalo Roundup in CusterState Park, the State Fair at Huron, the Photo Shootout, and the autumn panorama of color.

“South Dakota is a beautiful state that provides a bounty of photographic opportunities,” Gov. Rounds said. “Living in South Dakota, it’s understandable if we sometimes take our state’s natural beauty for granted.  Photography month is a perfect occasion to recognize and appreciate the stunning scenery that surrounds us every day.”

The Black Hills Photo Shootout will feature unique photo opportunities, including natural attractions, wildlife, and Old West flavor. The festival is designed for amateur, budding, and experienced photographers. Registration remains open. For more information, visit www.blackhillsphotoshootout.com

Labor Day travel by South Dakotans to rise by 11%, predicts AAA

RAPID CITY, S.D. (8/26/10) — Travel by South Dakotans will be up 11 percent over the holiday period last year, AAA reports. Of the 115,000 South Dakotans expected to travel, 102,937 will drive, an 11.5 percent jump over 2009 figures, and 3,217 will fly, an increase of 5.6 percent.

Barring any major tropical storm activity in the Gulf Coast region, AAA expects the South Dakota average price of self-serve regular gasoline to be between $2.70 and $2.80 per gallon during this holiday weekend. Today’s AAA Fuel Gauge Report (www.AAAFuelGaugeReport.com) shows the South Dakota average at $2.747, about 13 cents more than on Aug. 26, 2009.

AAA today projected the number of Americans traveling nationwide this Labor Day weekend will increase 9.9 percent from Labor Day of 2009, with approximately 34.4 million travelers taking a trip at least 50 miles away from home. Last year, 31.3 million Americans traveled during the Labor Day holiday. The 2010 Labor Day holiday travel period is defined as Thursday, September 2 to Monday, September 6.

“While media reports on the state of the U.S. economy are mixed, many Americans are apparently still interested in taking one more trip before the summer travel season comes to a close,” said Mark Madeja, spokesman for AAA South Dakota. “AAA travel agents are continuing to report strong increases in the number of travelers making advanced reservations. Hotel, car and vacation package reservations for the upcoming Labor Day weekend are up more than ten percent compared to last year. ”

The increase in travel for Labor Day appears to be the result of economic improvement over the past year. While job growth and home sales have been disappointing, gross domestic product, household net worth and consumer confidence have increased and consumer debt has decreased. The U.S. travel industry began to gain traction in the fourth quarter of 2009 and that momentum has carried over into this year.

“In addition to economic data, the date of the Labor Day holiday is another variable considered in the forecast,” Madeja said. “The earlier the holiday falls in September, the more people tend to travel. Although the growth in Labor Day travel is predicted to be strong, had the holiday fallen earlier in the month, the forecasted number of travelers would likely be even higher.”

Trips by automobile are expected to increase in popularity across the country with 91 percent of travelers, or 31.4 million people, reaching their destination by driving. This is an increase of 10.3 percent from last Labor Day when 28.5 million travelers went by motor vehicle. Leisure air travel is expected to account for just five percent of overall travel with 1.62 million holiday flyers. This is an increase of 4.6 percent from one year ago when 1.54 million flew. Trips by other modes, including rail, bus and watercraft, will be the dominant means of travel used by four percent of all travelers.

Today’s national average price for self-serve regular unleaded stands at $2.688, AAA says, six cents above the price one year ago. The auto club expects the national average to stay within the $2.65 to $2.75 range over the long holiday weekend.

Based on a survey of traveler intentions, the average distance traveled by Americans this Labor Day holiday weekend is expected to be 635 miles, slightly less than one year ago (645 miles). Median spending is expected to be $697 this Labor Day, nearly $50 more than last year when median spending was estimated at $650. Travelers say dining (63 percent), shopping (47 percent) and visiting with friends and relatives (43 percent) are the top three activities they’ll engage in during the upcoming holiday.

According to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index, airfares over the Labor Day holiday weekend are expected to increase nine percent from last year with the lowest round-trip rates moving up to $179 for the top 40 U.S. air routes. Weekend daily car rental rates will increase seven percent to an average of $46. Hotel rates for AAA Three Diamond-rated lodgings are expected to increase six percent from a year ago with travelers spending an average of $139 per night compared to $132 last year. Travelers planning to stay at AAA Two Diamond hotels can expect to pay two percent more at an average cost of $102 per night.

AAA offers a variety of travel planning tools including free TourBook travel guides and maps for members and the TripTik Travel Planner, also available free to travelers at AAA.com. Three iPhone apps offer access to AAA products and services on the go. The AAA TripTik Mobile app provides gas prices, directions and information on hotels, restaurants and attractions. The AAA Discounts app, which has been downloaded more than 880,000 times, uses GPS technology to acquire a user’s location and displays

AAA’s projections are based on economic forecasting and research by IHS Global Insight. The Boston-based economic research and consulting firm teamed with AAA in 2009 to jointly analyze travel trends during major holidays. AAA has been reporting on holiday travel trends for more than two decades. The complete AAA / IHS Global Insight 2010 Labor Day holiday forecast can be found at AAA.com/news.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 52 million members (89,650 in South Dakota) with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA South Dakota can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

SD MISSOURI RIVER FISHING/HUNTING REPORT – August 27, 2010

SD MISSOURI RIVER FISHING/HUNTING REPORT – August 27, 2010

Provided by: Great Lakes of SD Tourism Association

Karen Kern, Executive Director

karen@sdgreatlakes.org

When you’re fishing in Central South Dakota, please patronize the local bait shops, resorts and all businesses. For a listing of Great Lakes Tourism Association members go to www.sdgreatlakes.org

Lake Oahe

In the Pollock area the bite is going strong and there is plenty of room for more people. It’s the time to get up there and catch some of those walleye.  Lots of limits coming in.  Anglers are using crawlers with most fishing being done around 20-28 feet.  Some smallmouth are also being caught.

At Mobridge the best bite of the year is on. Anglers are using bottom bouncers as well as crawlers and spinners in anywhere from 14-20 foot depths.

At Akaska the fishing is very good with anglers fishing in the 10-20 foot depths. Anglers are pulling plugs and also using crawlers.

At Gettysburg fishing has been good.  Walleye are being caught in 17-28 depths mainly using crawlers. Resorts are seeing a lot of fish limits coming in. If you’re looking for smallmouth action, now is the time to be out on the water. They are catching the smallmouth on crawlers and leeches – many anglers get them along with the walleye and they are fighters.

Around Spring/Cow Creek the fishing is very good around the Cheyenne Arm, Bush’s Landing, Sutton Bay and Little Bend.  Bait being used is crawlers and spinners or crankbaits in 15-40 feet. Salmon anglers are using primarily artificial bait and herring. The salmon bite is very good and they can be found around 75-100 feet.  For anglers wanting to try out some salmon fishing, now is the time to get in on the action.

Lake Sharpe has seen good walleye fishing in the Pierre area from the Oahe Dam down past Antelope Creek. Anglers are using spinners and crawlers or crankbaits.  Fishing should be good into the fall. At West Bend the fishing is steady for smaller fish with a lot of good rod-bending going on! Best fishing on Lake Sharpe north of Chamberlain is from Iron Nation to the Big Bend Dam in 15-20 feet of water.

Francis Case

Around Chamberlain on Francis Case the fishing is fair to good from Chamberlain to the Big Bend Dam in about the 15-20 foot depths. Anglers are using crankbaits and crawlers and there are limits coming in but you have to look for the fish with a different bite each day. Smallmouth are also biting in this area.

In the Platte area fishing is picking up! Anglers are having good luck south of the bridge around Platte Creek, pulling plugs over submerged trees. Best depth is 35-45 feet. Ramps are open and camping has been very busy.

At the Pickstown and Wagner areas walleye fishing on the lake from South Shore north to Wheeler has been fair. Anglers have seen a crawler bite in 15-22 feet of water. Fishing below the dam has been slow.

Around Lewis & Clark Lake catfish can be caught on stink bait. White bass are being caught by trolling along the face of the dam in 18-24 feet of water, but only a few walleye are being caught.

At Lake Yankton largemouth bass fishing is going well using artificial purple worms with glitter. Take your kids out fishing for an afternoon and get some sunfish using worms.

In the Springfield area they are catching lots of catfish using stink bait.

On the Missouri River they are catching bluegill and crappie on minnows and worms. The catfish bit seems to be the best on stink bait. Drum can be caught on crawdads. Down along the Nebraska Handicapped section, anglers are catching bluegill, channel catfish, flatheads and small mouth bass.

For more information and up-to-the-minute reports on fishing Lake Oahe, please call West Pollock Resort, 605-889-2448; Kemnitz MoRest Motel in Mobridge at 605-845-3668. Call Bob’s Resort at 605-765-2500 or South Whitlock Resort at 605-765-9762 in Gettysburg. On the lower end of Lake Oahe, call Spring Creek Resort at 605-224-8336 and Lake Oahe/Lake Sharpe call Carl’s Bait Shop at 605-223-9453. On Lake Francis Case, contact the Platte Chamber of Commerce at 888-297-8175, and Fort Randall Bait & Tackle at 605-487-7760 in Pickstown. On Lewis & Clark contact Captain Norms Bait Shop at 605-665-4271.

*Please remember that the fishing conditions in our great state change constantly and this report is simply a guideline.*

Labor Day Weekend Events Wrap Up Summer

From the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks:

PIERRE, S.D. – Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the summer, and South Dakota State Parks invite you to come out and enjoy special weekend events.

  • Over the River and Through the Woods hike, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area near Yankton, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. CDT. Take an evening hike along the Gavin’s Point Nature Trail. Info: 605-668-2985
  • Southern Hills Triathlon, Angostura Recreation Area near Hot Springs, Sept. 4, at 7 a.m. MDT. Athletes can participate in a kids’ triathlon, sprint triathlon, Olympic distance triathlon, or duathlon. There is a fee to participate in the event and individuals or teams may enter. Participants can register online at www.active.com . Info: 605-745-4463 or 605-745-3494.
  • Pie Iron Cooking is a Piece of Cake, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area near Yankton, Sept. 4, at 4 p.m. CDT. Learn the basics of Dutch oven cooking, from starting a fire to using pie irons. Info: 605-668-2985
  • All Campers’ Potluck, Indian Creek Recreation Area near Mobridge, Sept. 4, at 5:30 p.m. CDT. The entire campground is invited to a potluck. Entertainment will be provided by a DJ. Info: 605-845-7112
  • Campsite Decorating Contest, Oakwood Lakes State Park near Volga and Lake Poinsett Recreation Area near Arlington, Sept. 4-5. Campers, bring supplies to decorate your campsites! Judging takes place at 5 p.m. CDT Saturday. Prizes for all! Info: 605-627-5441
  • Kids Bicycle Parades, Sept. 5, at 9:30 a.m. CDT at North Point Recreation Area and 11:30 a.m. CDT at Randall Creek Recreation both near Pickstown. Kids need to bring only their bikes, as decorations will be provided for these end-of-the-summer events! Info: 605-487-7046.
  • Palisades Amazing Family Dash, Palisades State Park near Garretson, Sept. 5, at 10 a.m. CDT. Can your family make it in this fast-paced race? The real challenge is, before you can travel to your next location, you’ll need to complete a special task. Teams must include children younger than 17 and at least one adult. Prizes will be awarded to the top three teams. Pre-registration is not required. Info: 605-594-3824.

For more information on the South Dakota State Parks, please visit www.gfp.sd.gov or call 605-773-3391. To learn about park programs in your area, contact your local state park office.