Lakes in South Dakota :- South Dakota is an incredible state that boasts mesmerizing natural landscapes. From the grasslands of the Great Plains, vast acres of verdant forests, and impressive Badlands to the towering cliffs of the Black Hills, the state has it all.
It’s also home to a variety of stunning lakes, some of which offer abundant recreational activities while others are perfect for soaking in a tranquil vibe.
Planning a lakeside outing in this beautiful state?
Choose from our list of the best lakes in South Dakota: –
Sylvan Lake #1
Nestled in the stunning Black Hills, Sylvan Lake is one of the most picturesque lakes in South Dakota.
With azure waters surrounded by towering granite cliffs, fascinating rock formations, and pine trees, it looks straight out of a postcard.
It’s the most notable attraction in Cluster State Park and offers plenty of fun recreational activities. You can go paddle-boarding, swim, or enjoy hiking around the lake.
Boat rentals are also available but only non-motorised boating is allowed here.
From beaches to a general store, you’ll find ample amenities for a comfortable outing.
Lewis and Clark Lake #2
Located on the South Dakota and Nebraska border, Lewis and Clark Lake is a large lake named after the famous explorers who passed through the area.
The lake has a stunning backdrop of hills and bluffs. There are numerous sandy beaches, campgrounds, and marinas here.
From boating, and swimming to camping, there are plenty of activities to indulge in.
The lake abounds with species such as northern pike and yellow perch which makes fishing a popular activity.
Looking for some more adventure?
There are various hiking trails in the surrounding hills and bluffs. You may even spot wildlife here.
Lake Oahe #3
Whether you are a nature lover or an adventure junkie, this lake won’t disappoint. Sprawled across 370,000 acres, Lake Oahe is the largest lake in the state.
It features a shoreline of around 2,250 miles and has around 50 state parks around it. The beautiful scenery and abundant outdoor recreational activities draw millions of visitors every year to this stunning natural attraction.
If you’re an avid boater, you’ll love to explore the sandy beaches, secluded coves, and cliffs around as you navigate through the lake’s clear waters.
Love spending time amidst nature?
Head to the Oahe Downstream Recreation Area where you may spot butterflies and bald eagles.
Looking for some adventure?
There are various hiking trails in Indian Creek Recreational Area where you can sweat it out and also spot wildlife such as raccoons, wild turkeys, and deer.
Anglers can fish for species like walleye, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and little pike that are abundant in the lake.
Lake Poinsett #4
Soak up the sun, play a round of golf, go swimming, kayaking, or camping, there is no dearth of fun activities to indulge in at this impressive lake.
Lake Poinsett is one of the most popular lakes in the country. It’s sprawled across 3,000 acres and is named after Joel Poinsett, a former US Secretary of War.
You can swim and relax at Arlington Beach. The lake abounds with fish such as crappie, walleye, smallmouth bass, channel catfish, and northern pike which draws many anglers too.
Camping is another popular activity here. There are two campgrounds with more than 112 campsites. If you’re looking for more comfort, book one of the cabins at Arlington Beach Resort.
Want to explore further?
Visit The Lake Poinsett Visitor Center and Museum.
Big Stone Lake #5
Located on the border of north-eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota, Big Stone Lake is a long freshwater lake. The beach’s shoreline is lined by scenic rocky bluffs and timber.
Going for 26 miles, the lake offers plenty of opportunities for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and picnicking.
It is well-stocked with fish including bluegill, white crappie, northern pike, largemouth bass, walleye, channel catfish, and yellow perch, which makes fishing a popular activity here.
Looking for some adventure?
You can hike on the numerous trails around that offer stunning views of the lake from the hills. The lake is easily accessible through Hartford Beach State Park.
Wish to spend the night?
There are various well-kept campgrounds around.
Pactola Lake #6
Lush forests and rugged cliffs surround the crystal-clear waters of Pactola Lake. Nestled deep in the Blue Hills National Forest area, it is sprawled across 800 acres and is around 150 feet deep.
Featuring 14 miles of shoreline, the lake is a haven for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike.
Enjoy boating, picnicking, sunbathing, and more at this stunning place. With the abundance of fish such as rainbow trout, largemouth bass, northern pike, lake trout, and bluegill in the lake, fishing is also popular here.
You’ll also find a rich variety of flora and fauna in the area.
Thrill seekers can go cliff-jumping from the western side of the lake. If you are interested in exploring the underwater world, you can also go scuba diving.
Got some more time on your hands?
Explore the various exhibits at the visitor center.
Iron Creek Lake #7
If you’re looking for some solace, head to Iron Creek Lake. Perched on the west side of Spearfish Canyon in the Blue Hills, this pristine lake offers scenic views and a serene environment.
You can picnic on its shores, swim, kayak, go paddle-boarding, or birdwatching, there is something here for everyone.
You won’t find large crowds here which makes it perfect for a peaceful outing.
Love to hike?
Check out the Old Baldy Trail on the lake’s southern side. You can also explore Big Hills Trail on its northern side.
Anglers can try to catch fish like rainbow trout, brown trout, and yellow perch. If you want to spend more time, book one of the numerous cabins for a memorable vacation.
Lake Sharpe #8
Spanning five counties, Lake Sharpe is one of the largest lakes in South Dakota. It takes its name from former state governor Merrill Q. Sharpe and draws locals and tourists alike.
The lake’s western shore is in the Lower Brule Indian Reservation and its east side lies in the Crow Creek Indian Reservation.
You can enjoy boating, explore the many beautiful waterfront pathways, fish for walleye, and more, there’s a plethora of recreational activities to enjoy here.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife such as elk, coyotes, mule deer, bison, and wild turkeys.
There are ample amenities by the lake such as picnic shelters, swimming areas, and camping grounds too.
Lake Thompson #9
Spread across 16,000 acres, Lake Thompson is one of the largest natural lakes in South Dakota. Featuring a shoreline of 70 kilometres, it offers a host of recreational activities to enjoy.
The Lake Thompson Recreation Area is located on the lake’s northeast shoreline. You can go swimming and water-skiing from the beach, play in the playground, or fish for walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and sunfish in the lake, there is something here for every taste.
If you’re an avid hiker, explore the numerous hiking trails around.
Want to make a multi-day vacation out of your visit?
This year-round destination is home to over 100 campsites and numerous cabins.
So, start with the one that attracts you the most and get ready for an epic lakeside outing in South Dakota.
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Q. How many lakes are in South Dakota?
South Dakota is home to 131 lakes.
Q. What is the largest lake in South Dakota?
Spread across an area of 369,917 acres, Lake Oahe is the largest lake in South Dakota.
Q. Does South Dakota have any lakes?
South Dakota has plenty of artificial and natural lakes.