Fort Sisseton Historic State Park

At Fort Sisseton State Park, located ten miles southwest of Lake City, visitors are invited to take a stroll back in time to the days of the Old West frontier. This unique South Dakota state park is one of the nation’s best-preserved frontier outposts.

In the 1860s, the army sought protection for settlers to Dakota Territory. The clean, clear waters of the surrounding lakes, the dense forests used for fuel and timber, and the richness of lime and clay in the soil for brick production made the area an ideal site for an outpost, and in 1864 the fort was established.

Originally dubbed Fort Wadsworth, the site was later renamed for the nearby Sisseton Indian Tribe. Abandoned in 1889, the site fell into disrepair. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration began to restore the fort’s buildings, and in 1960 the site was acquired by the South Dakota Parks Department.

The South Dakota Parks Department meticulously restored the frontier outpost. Today, visitors can tour fifteen fully restored stone and brick buildings, including the North Barracks, the guardhouse, the doctor’s building, and the officer’s quarters. “Soldiers” in full costume provide guided tours of the park.

Fort Sisseton State Park hosts many historical programs throughout the year. Each June, Fort Sisseton is a gathering site for re-enactors of black powder riflemen, Native Americans, and artisans who provide demonstrations and performances. During these historical programs, visitors can witness wood-burning stove and open fire cooking demonstrations, and can sample the prepared meals.

The fun and adventure at Fort Sisseton doesn’t stop when summer ends. Each December, visitors can enjoy Fort Sisseton’s Frontier Christmas, complete with classic crafts, sleigh rides, and living-history demonstrations. Snowshoe rental is available for winter guests.

In addition to historic demonstrations, Fort Sisseton’s visitors can enjoy outdoor recreations, including boating, fishing, and hiking. The park’s lake, Lake Kettle, is thick with walleye, northern pike, perch, bass, and crappie and is sure to delight anglers of every skill level. Fort Sisseton also offers boating, canoeing, and fishing equipment rentals.

Sibley Tents, modeled after Native American teepees and used by the Federal Army in the 1850s, are available for rent to visitors seeking a truly historical sleeping experience. Fort Sisseton boasts a traditional campground and four uniquely styled cabins.

Visitors to Fort Sisseton are sure to enjoy nearby Sica Hollow and Roy Lake State Parks. Fort Sully and Fort Randall are other military fort sites located in South Dakota.

Park Schedule & Rates

  • Open year-round
  • Camping: 14 sites (10 electrical).
  • Cabins: 3 cabins. Each sleep six.
  • Showers. Water. Group rentals for special events available.
  • Contact park for current rates and availability.

Park Contact Information


Categories: Eastern SD, State Parks

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