Lakes in South Dakota provide some of the best attractions for outdoor recreation in the state. Running north to southeast down the center of the state, from North Dakota to the Nebraska border, is the section of South Dakota known as the Great Lakes Region. There are numerous South Dakota lakes located in this corridor that includes the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail along the course of the Missouri River. The South Dakota lakes along the northeastern border with Iowa are in the Glacial Lakes Region and include those lakes in South Dakota near the towns of Aberdeen, Watertown, Huron, Milbank, and De Smet. In the southeast corner of the state is the Prairies Region, encompassing some of the most historic sections of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The South Dakota lakes in the western section of the state include the fourteen mountain lakes of the Black Hills where the best fly-fishing for trout can be found.
Set in Custer State Park, the second-largest of the state parks in South Dakota, in the legendary Black Hills, Sylvan Lake is the location of one of the park resorts, the Sylvan Lake Lodge. Rimmed by high, dramatic boulders, it was used for location filming in the movie National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Just a few miles away are Mount Rushmore, the Crazy Horse Memorial, and the famous Black Hills caves.
The town of Lake Preston boasts its namesake lake, as well as Lake Thompson, Lake Henry, and Lake Whitewood. All four of these lakes in South Dakota are excellent for fishing and boating, with plenty of available lodging and camping facilities. Nearby is the town of De Smet, the site of the Ingalls Homestead immortalized by author Laura Ingalls Wilder. There are hiking trails and excellent waterfowl hunting.
Located about halfway between Aberdeen and Brookings, Lake Norden is a small but idyllic lake next to the town of the same name. The region is excellent for fishing and pheasant hunting, and there is a lakeside nature trail to observe geese, ducks, pelicans, egrets, and many other species of bird life, as well as plentiful deer. Other things to do in the Lake Norden area include golfing and visiting a buffalo ranch, and in the winter there is ice fishing and snowmobiling.
Located less than 30 miles west of Sioux Falls, Lake Vermillion is a 512-acre reservoir. Lake Vermillion Recreation Area is known for extremely clear waters, and it is popular for fishing, autumn hunting, swimming, and boating. Boat ramps and lakeside camping areas provide easy access to the abundant walleye, northern pike, crappie, and blue gill.
Named for the Lakota Sioux Mission established in the area in 1874, Lake Oahe is actually a reservoir—the fourth-largest man made reservoir in the country. It is 231 miles long and reaches all the way from the capital city of Pierre to Bismarck North Dakota. The Lewis and Clark Expedition traveled through this region in September and October of 1804 where they encountered Teton Sioux and the Arikara people. Some of the best fishing in the state can found in the Lake Oahe region, and there are numerous places suitable for South Dakota vacations for the entire family.
Lewis and Clark Lake
Lewis and Clark Lake is a 30-mile-long Missouri River reservoir in the southeast Prairies Region near the historic town of Yankton. The reservoir, Givens Point Dam, and Lewis and Clark Lake Recreation Area make it one of the most popular resorts in the state parks system. There is plenty of vacation lodging, camping, and vacation rental cabins to choose from, many of which are on lakeside sandy beaches.
Lake Sharpe is a reservoir created by the construction of the Big Bend Dam, which takes its name from the unique bend in the Missouri River seven miles upstream where the river makes almost a complete 25-mile loop. This section of the river contains one of the largest concentrations of bald eagles in the country. Lake Sharpe attractions include abundant wildlife, including bison herds. State parks and camping areas provide places to stay, and the fishing is excellent.
Lake Francis Case
The nineteen state parks and recreation areas located around Lake Francis Case Reservoir range from highly developed campgrounds and day-use areas to primitive camping sites. Recreation opportunities at Lake Francis Case include fishing, hunting, boating, waterskiing, swimming, bird watching, hiking, and biking.