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Stockade Lake - Photo by SD Tourism Stockade Lake - Photo by SD Tourism

Location & Climate

'Banana Belt' Weather

Decades ago, a Sioux Falls TV weatherman dubbed the Rushmore Region the "Banana Belt," because on many winter days when eastern South Dakota endured below-freezing temperatures, the Black Hills basked in 45-degree warmth. The name stuck, happily.

The Rushmore Region of South Dakota can best be described as high, dry and moderate. The region has less snow than Denver, warmer winters than Minneapolis and more sunshine than Miami.

Location and geology combine to create a region that is protected from many of the winter weather systems originating in Canada and the Northwest. In addition, warm air brought in by downsloping Chinook winds can create surprisingly warm winter days.

Elevations in the Rushmore Region range from 3,022 feet above sea level in Belle Fourche to 5,318 feet in Custer. Harney Peak in Custer State Park is 7,244 feet, the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains.

Rapid City

January July Annual
Average Temperature (degrees F)
22.3 72.2 46.6
Precipitation (inches)
0.4 2 16.6
Snowfall (inches)
5.3 - 39.8
Average Relative Humidity %
58 61.5 68.5
Average Wind Speed (mph)
10.7 10.1 11.2

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