Did you know that the state fish of South Dakota is walleye? Swimming in the many lakes and rivers across the state, walleye are often found in the Missouri River and glacial lakes. With so many amazing lakes in South Dakota, it can be hard to choose a favorite, so we polled our readers on our
Only In South Dakota Facebook page. Now we know where 15 of the most beautiful lakes in the Mount Rushmore State can be found. So let’s get cracking, and explore these treasured waters that beckon us.
1. Sylvan Lake
The overall reader favorite is Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. It is peaceful, affording the opportunity to fish, swim, rent small boats, and hike the trails in the Black Hills. And it was featured in a National Treasure movie. Dine at Sylvan Lake Lodge after your day at the lake.
2. Angostura Reservoir
Angostura Reservoir sits on the Cheyenne River. Enjoy the sunsets, clear water, and sandy beaches. Come and swim, boat, fish, and camp. The Angostura Resort here offers a marina, a restaurant, and a store. There is a small fee per vehicle, and you can rent a canoe.
3. Pactola Lake
At Pactola Lake, take in the breathtaking views, and even ride your horse. Pactola is the largest and deepest reservoir in the Black Hills National Forest. There is a full-service marina, groceries, a campground, and a swim beach. Record numbers of lake trout are caught here.
4. Lake Kampeska
Lake Kampeska is an inland glacial lake near Watertown. Witness amazing sunsets and sunrises. Sandy Shore Recreation Area, on the lake, allows for fishing, boating, swimming, use of a boat launch, and camping.
5. Big Stone Lake
At the Minnesota border, Big Stone Lake is peaceful and offers great fishing and sunset views. Fish for walleye and perch, go swimming or boating, and reserve a campsite at Hartford Beach State Park.
6. Pelican Lake
Pelican Lake, in Watertown, is a popular stop for migrating waterfowl - including pelicans. Fish, and ride your horse. In the winter, enjoy cross-country skiing trails, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. Pelican Lake Recreation Area offers camping and hiking, with a nominal fee charged per vehicle.
7. Oakwood Lakes
Eight connected glacial lakes are the highlight of Oakwood Lakes State Park in Bruce. Many activities are available: hiking, swimming, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, camping, and boating. Visit the log cabin built in 1869 and stay for the sunsets.
8. Dry Lake
Dry Lake, located in Florence, is at an elevation of 1,742 feet. Our readers appreciate the boating and pretty sunsets at this lake. Also, try your hand at fishing these waters.
9. Hipple Lake
Visit Hipple Lake, found in Pierre, for fishing and kayaking. The small lake, off the Missouri River, is part of the Farm Island Recreation Area. Enjoy picnics and campsites right on the lake and hiking trails on Farm Island.
10. Lake Poinsett
One of the largest lakes in the state, near Arlington, Poinsett has superb sunsets. Fish for walleye, northern, perch, and bass – by boat or from the shore will do the job. Camp by the lake in the Lake Poinsett Recreation Area. Stop by the Lake Poinsett Visitor Center and Museum.
11. Lake Oahe
Lake Oahe, the fourth largest reservoir in the U.S. by volume, lies on the Missouri River. If you are lucky, you could see bison wading near Moreau River. Recreation areas – 51 of them – allow you to camp, hunt, hike, fish, boat, water ski, bird watch, and swim.
12. Roy Lake
Roy Lake is a focal point of Roy Lake State Park. Take the bridge to the island. See beautiful sunsets and pick out a campsite. Hike the trails, swim, fish, or rent a kayak.
13. Lake Cochrane
Clear, clean, family-friendly Lake Cochrane, is in eastern South Dakota. It is a hot spot for boating, and fishing for walleye, bass, and bluegill. The lake was named for Byron Cochrane who settled at the lake in the 1870s.
14. Legion Lake
Legion Lake, also inside Custer State Park, features great views, great fishing, and great meals at Legion Lake Lodge. Hike the Black Hills, swim, or rent a cabin or a kayak.
15. Deerfield Lake
Peaceful Deerfield Lake in the Black Hills is ideal for your non-motorized boats. Bring your kayak to this hidden gem in Deerfield. You will feel like you are off-the-beaten path, with smooth, clear water for fishing and paddleboarding. Bring along your hiking boots, too.
Let’s get out there and discover these 15 most beautiful lakes, selected by our readers, in our beloved South Dakota. Whether you want to go kayaking, swimming, fishing, hiking, or just feel like relaxing on the beach, these lakes have a little bit of everything for you. Join our
South Dakota Nature Lovers Facebook group to discover more epic photographs like these and share your own. For more of the most beautiful lakes in South Dakota, read our articles about Bismarck Lake and Sheridan Lake.
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