South Dakota state parks are offering an additional incentive for people to get out and enjoy hiking trails this fall with the Creatures of the Night Hike and Seek contest.
"The cool thing is the signs are reflective," said District Park Manager John Bame in describing the activity.
Trails at 27 state parks, including Lake Herman State Park, are marked with informational signs about five nocturnal animals. Near each sign, a second sign with a graphic of the animal is mounted in its natural habitat.
"You have to search for that animal," Bame explained. However, hikers will be able to spot them without moving off the trail. "You can, without a doubt, see them from the sign."
At Lake Herman, the signs are posted along the Luce trail, with the first sign adjacent to the family cemetery.
"This sign will direct you to travel the trail and look for clues along the way which will help you find five animals that spend most of their life out in the night," Bame indicated.
He suggests using a flashlight if hiking during the early-evening hours since the signs are reflective.
"I, personally, set up the trail and can say some of the spots are easy and some are tough," he said. "I encourage everyone to come out and get some fresh air and try out the hike. It is educational and a lot of fun."
To qualify for the prize drawing, hikers need to take a selfie with the Hike and Seek rules sign. As they find they other five signs along the trail, they need to keep track of the code word from each sign. After completing the trek, they need to submit the selfie and five code words to email@example.com.
All ages can participate in this contest, which runs through October, but hikers can only submit one entry from each of the 27 park locations. One entry from each location will be randomly selected by Nov. 9.
To receive the prize, participants must include their mailing address. The state website indicates winners will receive a gift set containing a constellation throw blanket, a combination lantern/flashlight and a large zippered tote bag.
Bame said fall is an ideal time for camping, too. The mild days and cool evenings are ideal for camp fires.
"You can put on a jacket or sweater and roast marshmallows and have a good time," he said.
In addition, fall has its own special beauty with leaves turning colors. He noted that some dark red is beginning to creep in at Lake Herman State Park.
Too, more campsites are open, making it easy to get a spot. Electrical sites can be rented for $26 per night and cabins can be rented for $55 per night.
"We do keep our facilities open as late as we can," Bame said, adding that there are heaters in the shower houses. "The electricity is always on."
However, the dump station will be closing shortly.
Bame also wants people to know that annual park stickers are now available for 2021; they are good through May 2022. The cost is $36 and they are available at Classic Corner and One Stop in Madison.
"I like getting them for Christmas gifts as most have not gotten one yet," Bame shared.
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