Pickerel Lake Recreation Area

Pickerel Lake Recreation Area, located in the northeast corner of South Dakota, is home to the deepest natural lake in South Dakota.

More than 20,000 ago, glaciers covered northeast South Dakota. As the glaciers receded, they pushed against the earth, shaping the landscape and leaving huge depressions behind. These craters later filled with groundwater to form lakes. Pickerel Lake, with its maximum depth of 43 feet, is the deepest glacier-formed lake in South Dakota.

Pickerel Lake, once known as Lake Tamahe (meaning “catch long fish with spear”) by the Dakota Sioux, is an excellent fishing lake. Walleye, large and smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch, white bass, crappies, and bluegill thrive in Lake Pickerel’s cool, spring-fed waters.

Pickerel Lake Recreation Area contains campgrounds on both sides of the lake. The campgrounds, named East Pickerel and West Pickerel, each contain a swimming beach, playground, showers, and a hiking trail. The two campsites are within easy driving distance, so visitors are able to enjoy what both sides of Pickerel Lake have to offer.

The Glacial Mounds Trail, named for its distinctive, glacier-shaped formations, is located on East Pickerel. The Glacial Mounds Trail is a .75-mile trail offering breathtaking views of Pickerel Lake and native prairie lands. The Ponderosa Hiking Trail, an easy one-mile trail located on West Pickerel, provides visitors with the opportunity to experience the sights, sounds, and smells of a pine forest. The trails at Pickerel Lake Recreation Area contain smaller, glacier-formed depressions called sloughs and potholes. Depending on the time of year, these depressions fill with water and are a haven for wildlife.

Visitors to Pickerel Lake Recreation Area can camp at the site’s two campgrounds. Electrical and non-electrical campsites and wheelchair-accessible campsites are available at each campground; fully accessible cabins are available at West Pickerel. Lodging can also be obtained in surrounding communities.

While in the area, visitors are sure to enjoy nearby Fort Sisseton and Sica Hollow State Parks and the Waubay National Wildlife Refuge.

Park Schedule & Rates

  • Open year-round
  • Camping: 77 sites (61 electrical – $12/site for non-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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