The weather in the Black Hills can be unpredictable for sure and can average temps can vary by 10 degrees depending on the community. But the four distinct seasons we enjoy here in the great outdoors are some of the best reasons for living in the Black Hills. And some of the best reasons for taking your vacation here — any time of the year!
The Black Hills sit like an island on the prairie and the elevation difference between the region and the surrounding plains make for a milder climate, one more similar to the front-range of Colorado vs. the rest of the Dakotas or Minnesota. Our winters are warmer than the neighboring regions which means we can actually enjoy outdoor wintertime fun and our summers are cooler. While towns in South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Minnesota make the lists for some of the nation's coldest; not one from the Black Hills is included or close to.
Because our weather varies from one community to the next, the averages below are from Rapid City unless otherwise noted. Rapid City's weather typically falls in the middle between towns like Custer and Lead, which sit in the highest elevations, to Spearfish and Hot Springs. The average swing from Rapid's average is 5˚ either way.
Daytime highs during the month of March average 47˚ with a low of 22˚, high of 56˚/ low of 31˚ in April with May enjoying an average high of 66˚ and a low of 42˚. Overnight temperatures are still chilly, especially in Black Hills communities, where the lows averaging 20˚ or more are made.
Late spring is western South Dakota’s rainy season, when the area receives over a third of its annual moisture. Precipitation in May comes mostly in short rain showers and this is typically the wettest month. March is one of the driest but usually late March and sometimes even April snow showers can dump sizeable amounts. The ski town of Lead averages 66 in of snow during these two months!
June sees an average high of 76˚ with a low of 51˚; July averages a high of 85˚ with a low of 51˚; August has an average high of 84˚ with a low of 56˚
Mid-summer around the Black Hills is warm and dry with plenty of sunshine. Rapid City sees an average of 20 clear to partly cloudy days and 75 percent of its possible sunshine in June. Humidity levels are low, and there is usually a breeze during the day, so even the hottest days are still comfortable. Early mornings are cool, so a jacket or sweater may be needed for outdoor activities. At night temps drop quite a bit as can be seen in the greater difference between the avg. high and low.
Sunny, mild days and cool nights are typical during the autumn months of September and October. September sees an average high of 73˚ with a low of 45˚; October averages a high of 60˚ and a low of 34˚; November sees an avg. high of 47˚ with a low of 23˚. The average first freeze in Rapid City is October 4 and late August through September in the Black Hills.
The first significant snowfall of the season is usually in October, although higher elevations sometimes receive snow as early as September. Occasional cold fronts moving through the area can bring blustery northwest winds.
December and January both see avg. daytime highs of 38˚ with lows of 13˚; February warms up one degree with a high of 39˚ and a low of 14˚. During these months, towns like Lead see an average of 25+ inches of snow which draws many ski and snowmobile enthusiasts from all around. Average yearly snowfall in the Black Hills is over 200 inches annually, mostly occurring at elevations above 5,000 feet and typically between the months of November and April.
Visit the National Weather Service for more up to date weather information.