11 Amazing Recreational Lakes near Sioux Falls, SD

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Sioux Falls has access to a fantastic range of lakes and reservoirs. Very few cities in the US have a selection with so few activity restrictions.

Almost all of the options on the list allow swimming, boating, fishing, and camping, giving you plenty of choices.

What’s more, in winter, many of the lakes and reservoirs open up for ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, so these are not just summer spots.

Whether you’re into lakeside camping, big bass fishing, or kayaking, there are plenty of options.

Check out what Sioux Falls has to offer!

Lakes near Sioux Falls:

  1. Wall Lake
  2. Lake Alvin
  3. East Vermillion Lake
  4. Brant Lake
  5. Lake Madison
  6. Lake Herman
  7. Split Rock Creek
  8. Lake Shetek
  9. Lake Benton
  10. Oakwood Lakes
  11. Lewis and Clark Lake
Lakes near Sioux Falls South Dakota Comparison Table
Comparison Table

1. Wall Lake

  • Website: Wall Lake
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 12 miles (20 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

A little more than 11 miles west of downtown Sioux Falls, Wall Lake offers residents of Minnehaha County a swimming beach and various water activities. 

Wall Lake Park has picnic areas, a playground, and convenient access to the beach on the southeastern shore of this 207-acre lake. 

Those wishing to fish with a boat should drive less than a mile west of this 25-acre park to the public boat ramp on the south side of the lake. 

With a maximum depth of 34 feet and an average depth of 11 feet, Wall Lake can accommodate larger watercraft along the lake’s 2.9-mile shoreline. During the busiest summer weekends, parking lots may fill quickly. 

Anglers can expect to find walleye, northern pike, yellow bullhead, white crappie, and yellow perch in the lake. 

Although winters in this area have the potential to be brutal, a new annual event takes place at this lake in February. The Annual Ice Hole Festival began a few years ago as an ice dive for a couple of friends. The event now draws scuba divers willing to challenge their skills in the cold water. 

2. Lake Alvin

Small Lake and a Beach
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Alvin
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 14 miles (25 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Hiking, Biking

Lake Alvin is located slightly more than 13 miles southeast of downtown. Created after workers built a dam at Nine Mile Creek’s lower end in 1954, this artificial lake was completely filled in 1957. 

The primary access point for this 105-acre body of water is Lake Alvin State Recreation Area, a 59-acre park that is less than two miles from the Big Sioux River that serves as the state border with Iowa.

Visitors may use Lake Alvin throughout the year, though the park’s water systems may shut down between October and April due to colder weather. 

Those hoping to come to the lake during the off-season should pack the necessary goods and plan accordingly. 

Top activities at the park include birdwatching, picnicking, swimming, paddleboarding, boating, and fishing. 

The trees and surrounding valley offer some protection from the wind, an added benefit for canoeing and kayaking.

Anglers should try their luck when visiting this lake. Popular catches are walleye, crappie, northern pike, bullhead, catfish, and perch. 

3. East Vermillion Lake

Lake and a red truck in South Dakota
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: East Vermillion Lake
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 27 miles (35 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

A large reservoir 25 miles northwest of downtown, the 512-acre East Vermillion Lake has a reputation for clear water and good fishing. 

Crews built a dam to impound water along the East Fork of the Vermillion River in 1958. The resulting reservoir has become a popular destination for those in the region who enjoy camping and fishing. 

The Lake Vermillion Recreation Area provides year-round access to the lake and other wildlife. Cabins and campsites offer an ideal starting point for anglers who wish to stay overnight. 

Beaches are popular gathering spots for summertime swimmers. Spring and fall visitors will enjoy migratory birds. Running water will not be available for most of the period between November and the end of April.

Fishing is great along East Vermillion Lake. Those who cast a line can expect to find bluegill, largemouth bass, yellow bullhead, white crappie, walleye, channel catfish, northern pike, and yellow perch. 

4. Brant Lake

Lake sunset in South Dakota
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Brant Lake
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 40 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

Brant Lake may be reached after taking a 37-mile drive north of Sioux Falls. The easternmost of four natural chain lakes dating to the end of the last Ice Age, the basin of this 1,037-acre body of water was most likely carved by receding glaciers. 

The lake is named to recognize the one-time presence of snow geese known as “white Brant” that once frequented the area during the fall and spring migratory seasons. 

Although private landowners have shoreline access along most of the lake, the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks has developed public access points along the west, south, and east areas of the lake

The West Brant Access Area has a large parking lot, ramp, dock, and multiple areas for shore fishing. 

The East Brant Access Area has similar facilities. Those who want to cast a line from the land may also choose from a few basic locations along the south shore.

Water tends to be generally clearer in this lake than in the other chain lakes. Fish to catch include bass, crappie, yellow perch, walleye, and northern pike.

5. Lake Madison

Man waterskiing during sunset
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Madison
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 47 miles (50 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing

Approximately 45 miles northwest of downtown, Lake Madison is the largest of the four chain lakes. Lake County recently established the Scott Pedersen Memorial Park along the upper south shore of this 2,800-acre natural lake as a location with beach access. 

Another public area along the lake’s south-central shore that includes waterfront activities is Walker’s Point Recreation Area, a state-managed site with camping and boating facilities. Note that the road offering access to Walker’s Point is dirt and gravel, and may become very muddy during periods of extended rain or snow. 

Visitors to Lake Madison and the surrounding area will enjoy bird watching, with March to October being the best season. Cackling geese, marsh wren, ruddy duck, Virginia rail, and great horned owl are commonly viewed. 

While swimming, canoeing, and kayaking are summertime activities, the lake is a great year-round spot for fishing. Perch, crappie, walleye, bullhead, and northern pike are common. 

6. Lake Herman

  • Website: Lake Herman
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 54 miles (55 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing 

Slightly more than 50 miles northwest of Sioux Falls, Lake Herman is another glacial chain lake in the area. 

Visitors wishing to experience this 1,350-acre lake near the city of Madison will find camping and recreation facilities at Lake Herman State Park on the eastern shore. 

Prairie grasses and native oak woodlands share space with camping areas and trails. A well-maintained boat launch near the park’s entrance provides easy lake access. 

Visitors to the park will see the log cabin Herman Luce built in 1871 after settling here, a small structure that also briefly served as a US Land Office for the region. 

Those who stay overnight at the park have praised the upkeep of facilities, as well as the ability to see wildlife and enjoy nature. Similar to other state parks in this area, access to running water is seasonal. 

A simple boat launch that does not require park admission fees is available directly across the lake from the state park, accessible after a drive along a dirt road. 

Wherever one enters Lake Herman, they should expect a lake full of yellow bullhead, yellow perch, white crappie, walleye, and northern pike. 

7. Split Rock Creek

Split Rock Creek State Park
Source: flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Website: Split Rock Creek
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 42 miles (45 min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

A little more than 40 miles northeast of downtown, a trip into neighboring Minnesota allows for a visit to the 1,303-acre Split Rock Creek

A lake area was created to expand the creek for water recreation activities after the Works Progress Administration built a large dam in 1938 out of locally-quarried Sioux Quartzite. The lake immediately attracted waterfowl and other woodland wildlife. 

Split Rock Creek State Park offers a variety of activities for visitors. Camping, hiking, horse trails, and great areas for bird and wildlife viewing are available. 

A seasonal swimming beach attracts a lot of interest, and the park’s concessionaire rents kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards. 

Fishing is a top reason for many people who come to Split Rock Creek. Anglers cast their lines for largemouth bass, yellow bullhead, white crappie, northern pike, catfish, and walleye.

8. Lake Shetek

Lake Shetek Causeway
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lake Shetek
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 92 miles (1h 40min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking

A 92-mile drive northeast of the city, Lake Shetek serves as the Des Moines River’s headwaters and is southwestern Minnesota’s largest lake, covering 3,596 acres. 

Similar to other lakes in this area of the prairie, Lake Shetek is relatively shallow, with its deepest point at only 10 feet. 

“Shetek” is the Ojibwe word for a bird that is often spotted in this region during the summer and fall, the “pelican.” 

The 1,108-acre Lake Shetek State Park offers public access along the lake’s southeastern shore for camping, fishing, swimming, hiking, and biking. 

The Koch Cabin illustrates the challenges pioneer settlers faced. Forests and old fields preserve the landscape and offer a place for mink, fox, beaver, coyote, and deer to congregate. 

The park has amenities similar to those found at Split Rock Creek. Fishing for bullhead, crappie, and walleye is generally good. 

9. Lake Benton

Starry night on a lake in minnesota
Source: unsplash
  • Website: Lake Benton
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 71 miles (1h 20min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing

Lake Benton is a drive of 70 to 85 miles, depending on the route taken, northeast of Sioux Falls. 

The municipality of Lake Benton provides a number of parks with access points for this lake, which averages approximately 2,800 acres. Seasonal adjustments due to melting ice and other factors affect the current size of the lake. 

Year-round access makes Lake Benton a popular destination for both boating during warmer months and wintertime ice fishing. 

Some of the nearby parks – such as Hole in the Mountain Park and Norwegian Creek Park – have a variety of campsites available for those who want to make an overnight trip.

Lake Benton is best known for walleye and is one of the top destinations in the state for this fish. Bluegill, black crappie, northern pike, and yellow perch are also harvested. 

10. Oakwood Lakes

Oakwood Lakes State Park
Source: flickr/CC BY 2.0
  • Website: Oakwood Lakes
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 77 miles (1h 15min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Fishing

Located 77 miles north of the city, Oakwood Lakes is the name given to eight glacial lakes in close proximity, with many now connected. 

These include Round Lake, Johnson Lake, Lake Oakwood, Lake Tetonkaha, and a few sloughs. Their combined area is approximately 2,164 acres.

Oakwood Lakes State Park offers year-round access to many of these lakes. Hiking and swimming are common in warmer months, with cross-country skiing and ice fishing taking place during the winter. Amenities are similar to other nearby state parks. 

Anglers will find walleye, northern pike, yellow perch, and yellow bullhead. 

11. Lewis and Clark Lake

Lewis and Clark Lake Marina
Source: dreamstime
  • Website: Lewis and Clark Lake
  • Distance from Sioux Falls: 98 miles (1h 40min)
  • Activities: Fishing, Swimming, Boating, Kayaking, Canoeing, Picnics, Camping, Hiking, Biking, Wakeboarding, Water Skiing, Tubing, Sailing, Cross-Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Fishing

Residents of Sioux Falls can visit Lewis and Clark Lake by traveling approximately 100 miles southwest of the city. 

This 31,400-acre section of the Missouri River was impounded by the Gavins Point Dam in 1957 to generate hydroelectric power and provide recreation opportunities.

A variety of parks and preserves are located along Lewis and Clark Lake. A popular resort park, the Lewis and Clark Recreation Area includes a marina, three campgrounds, and sandy beaches. 

Tabor State Lakeside Use Area is one of the other access points provided by South Dakota. A drive across the Missouri River allows visitors to enjoy the amenities available at the Lewis and Clark State Recreation Area in Nebraska.

Commonly caught fish include sauger, walleye, bass, catfish, and crappie.