Lake Poinsett Recreation Area

Lake Poinsett Recreation Area, northeast of Arlington, South Dakota, is home to Lake Poinsett, South Dakota’s second largest natural lake. Visitors to Lake Poinsett Recreation Area can enjoy swimming, jet skiing, boating, and fishing on 8,500 acres of clear, pristine waters.

Joseph Nicollet and John Fremont first explored the area surrounding the lake in 1838. Joel Poinsett, former U.S. Secretary of War under President Van Buren, was instrumental in promoting the Nicollet and Fremont expedition, and is the namesake of Lake Poinsett. Poinsett, also a physician and botanist, is famous for retrieving beautiful, winter-blooming plants from Mexico and bringing the specimens into the States. By 1836, these flowering plants were widely known as “poinsettias.”

Summer visitors to Lake Poinsett Recreation Area can enjoy warm and breezy daytime temperatures in the 80s, just right for fun on the water. When the sun sets, nighttime temperatures are in the 60s, perfect for waterfront camping. In addition to fishing and water activities, visitors can enjoy hiking, basketball, and sand volleyball, and can play golf on a course overlooking the lake.

At Lake Poinsett Recreation Area, the fun doesn’t stop when summer ends. Open year round, the recreation area is a haven for skiers, ice fishermen, and snowmobilers. Groomed cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails run throughout the park.

Lake Poinsett Recreation Area has two campgrounds with 112 camping sites and is equipped with comfort stations. Waterfront camping sites and waterfront views are available. Lodging may also be found in nearby Watertown, South Dakota.

While in the area, visitors are sure to enjoy the South Dakota Art Museum, Bramble Park Zoo and Discovery Center, and Oakwood Lakes State Park.

Park Schedule & Rates

  • Open year-round
  • Camping:  112 sites (108 electrical).
  • Cabins: 2 cabins. Sleeps four.
  • Showers. Water. Dump station.
  • Contact park for current rates and availability.

Park Contact Information

Categories: Eastern SD, State Parks

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