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First Day Hikes set for New Year's Day

South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks (GFP) encourages those with New Year’s resolutions on health and happiness to kick off 2019 with a First Day Hike at a state park. On Jan. 1, all 50 states will be participating in the seventh annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with a guided outdoor exploration.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks,” said South Dakota state park director Katie Ceroll. “First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with a walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks.”

The sponsored hikes range from less than one mile journeys to longer, more intense workouts, depending on the state and terrain. South Dakota is offering seven hikes across the state.

• First Day 5K and Pet Stroll, Lewis and Clark Recreation Area near Yankton, 10 a.m. CST

• First Day Hike, Custer State Park near Custer, 10 a.m. MST

• First Day Hike, Oakwood Lakes State Park near Brookings, 1 p.m. CST

• First Day Snowshoe Hike, George S. Mickelson Trail, 1 p.m. MST. Pre-registration required: 605.384.3896

• First Hike, Good Earth State Park near Sioux Falls, 2 p.m. CST

• Winter Wonderland Nature Hike, Big Sioux Recreation Area near Brandon, 2 p.m. CST

• Winter Woods Walk, Newton Hills State Park near Canton, 2 p.m. CST

First Day Hikes originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, thousands of Americans participated in both traditional hikes and new experiences in many parks.

All participants are encouraged to log their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes.

Adventures in Nature program begins Jan. 15 at Wind Cave

 Wind Cave National Park staff invite you and your children to explore the natural world by taking part in the Adventures in Nature programs. These free, interactive programs are offered at the park visitor center every other Tuesday beginning Jan. 15 through April 9.

“While the program is geared for ages 4 to 10, all children are welcome to attend and take part,” said Park Superintendent Vidal Dávila. “This year’s theme is ‘Everything is Connected,’ and our staff is looking forward to helping the next generation of park stewards make connections with the natural world here at Wind Cave.”

Children will be grouped according to their age to explore hands-on activities with their peers. Topics vary each week but will always include activities, crafts, and a short hike or outdoor activity tied to the day’s concept. Registration starts at 9:45 a.m. with programs running from 10 a.m. to noon.

Parents are encouraged, but not required, to RSVP to ensure enough materials will be available for every child. The park can be reached at 605-745-1134 or at wica_interpretation@nps.gov. Calling ahead allows staff to alert participants in the event of bad weather or road conditions. In case of bad weather, the program many be canceled. Call the park at the above number or visit the park’s Facebook page for program status.

New this year will be an assortment of objects and other materials for younger children to explore with an adult while siblings take part in the main activities. Older children can also attend and participate directly or assist the younger children in their explorations and activities.

The first program will focus on habitats and feature many of the wildlife that make their home at the park. For a complete listing of this year’s programs visit www.nps.gov/wica/forkids and click on the Adventures in Nature link.

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