Blog & Tools

UPTIME powers Great Bear Recreation Park all year long

A wedding at Great Bear Recreation Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Great Bear Recreation Park hosts events year-round, including weddings in the summer.

Great Bear Ski Valley’s 2024 snow season was over in 35 days after an unseasonably warm winter, but thanks in part to SDN Communications, the UPTIME lasts year-round at the recreation area.

From hosting weddings and other events to its hiking trails, Great Bear is much more than skiing and snowboarding.

“Our facility is awesome. We have the right people in place to take care of guests. And tech is the backbone behind all of it,” Great Bear General Manager Dan Grider said.

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A year ago, the tech backbone at Great Bear Recreation Park was weak, however. Grider shared his pain points with SDN Communications, from lack of connectivity in certain areas of the chalet to increased use of the network by employees and guests.

“They asked, ‘What can (SDN) do to help?’” said Megan Greenfield, Great Bear's Network Account Executive at SDN Communications.

“One of the great things about SDN's service is that our sales engineers can take a look at any situation and offer a solution."

A dog walks on a trail at Great Bear Recreation Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Great Bear Recreation Park has miles of hiking paths, some of which are used as cross country ski trails in the winter.

'If you don't (have connectivity), people will go elsewhere'

SDN mapped out new locations for additional wireless access points in those hard-to-reach places in the concrete building. SDN also increased the bandwidth to ensure everyone at the park could stay connected. An upgraded network and firewall add to the security.

“The whole park is accessible for phones, tablets and laptops. Not just in the winter but in the summer, too,” Grider said.

Last year Great Bear hosted 32 events, Grider said, without actively promoting the facility as an event site. Now with a salesforce in place, he hopes to see the number of events increase. Knowing that in today’s world, nearly every event requires technology to share some type of audio and video, he said Great Bear is up to the task.

“Connectivity and security are everything. We have that. And you have to have it. If you don’t, people will go elsewhere,” he said.

Wedding at Great Bear Recreation Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The back deck at Great Bear Recreation Park is shown set up for a summer wedding.

Great Bear has 'to keep growing'

Of the 220 acres that make up the park, only 20 are used for the ski area. The remaining space includes a walking trail that’s used by avid hikers as well as daycare field trips, Grider said. People come out to work their hunting dogs or hold picnics. Cross-country skiing trails can also be found during the snow season. A 24/7 high-definition webcam shows weather at the park and viewers can watch the Great Bear team make snow, and sometimes local news stations share the webcam, too.

Grider has been part of Great Bear since the mid-1990s. Major improvements were made in 2000 with an addition to the existing chalet, as well as the bunny hill and train park. Grider said the work isn’t done, however. A Sioux Falls Parks & Recreation survey in the last few years asked residents what they wanted to see more of in the community; outdoor recreation was at the top, Grider said, and Great Bear fits the bill. There are opportunities to add to the amenities at the park and continue to improve both the guest and team member experiences, he said.

Skier at Great Bear Recreation Park
Great Bear offers skiing, snowboarding and tubing.

“We provide a product that is a great experience,” Grider said. “If we’re not growing, we’re falling behind — in the team, in infrastructure, everything. We have to keep growing and we’ve been able to do that.”

For more information about holding events at Great Bear, visit