The choppy badlands of Wyoming are to the west, the sweeping South Dakota plains are to the east, and one of the largest reservoirs in the state is at your feet. That combination, along with some first-class facilities for your motorhome, makes the Angostura Recreation Area an excellent RV camping place.
Even in a sun-splashed South Dakota summer, the water at Lake Angostura usually stays below a crisp 65 degrees. So, RVers can enjoy miles of sandy beaches and a refreshing swim. Lake Angostura is also one of the largest bodies of water in the South Dakota/Wyoming/Nebraska Tri-State area. That means plenty of room for boating and other water activities. Moreover, since the Angostura Recreation Area is at a confluence of geographic zones, the hiking and wildlife-viewing opportunities are excellent as well. This park also includes some unexpected fun activities, like a world-class disc golf course.
Finally, the Angostura Recreation Area has over 150 RV campsites. Many of them have electrical hookups, and others are larger pull-through sites. The four RV campgrounds have lots of other amenities as well. So, pack your rig, drive into the park, and stay awhile.
Angostura Recreation Area is just off Highway 18/Highway 385, which is the main drag between Rapid City and central Nebraska. For the most part, this route is a four-lane divided highway that’s very well maintained even in winter and offers good visibility. If you approach from the north, you pass near the famous Black Hills. If you come from the south, your RV passes through some protected forests and grasslands. Either way, it’s an easy and scenic drive.
The park itself is basically a long swimming beach that hugs the eastern shore of Lake Angostura. Therefore, the park roads are wide and flat. The major park road is paved and clear almost all year long. This park is basically designed just for RV campers. There is plenty of large vehicle parking near the marina, the main swimming area, and the major hiking trailheads.
The northernmost campground has 22 mostly back-in sites. All the back-in sites have electrical hookups. There are two pull-through sites right on the water’s edge. Other than those two sites, most of the sites are away from the lake and behind a thick stand of trees. So, there’s not much wind. Campground amenities include a restroom and shower area, several vault toilets, a number of drinking water spigots, an RV dump station, and a children’s play area. All running water facilities in the park sometimes shut down between October and March.
This slightly-larger RV campground has 63 back-in sites arrayed in two oblong loops. Most of these sites have electricity hookups. RV campers can probably hear the water but not see it. It’s close to the water’s edge but trees limit the wind. This campground is also close to the main hiking/biking trail interchange. Amenities at the Cascade Campground include an amphitheater, children’s play area, and two restroom and shower areas.
The best lakeside RV campground has 22 back-in sites. Nearly all of them are close to the water, and nearly all of them have electricity hookups. There are a few trees at Hat Creek, but not as many. So, get ready to enjoy scenic views and deal with the breeze. Hat Creek is also a great outdoor activity campground. The campground has a fishing pier, boat launch that’s even open during low water periods, a sheltered picnic area, and a fish cleaning station. Other amenities include a children’s play area, restroom and shower area, numerous drinking water spigots, and several vault toilets.
The southernmost campground is across an inlet from Hat Creek. It has 43 back-in electrified RV parking spots. It’s rather far from the lake, at least in comparison with the other three campgrounds, but three paved trails connect Horsehead and the lake. Campground amenities include a restroom and shower area, children’s play area, and drinking water spigots.
Walleye are perhaps the most difficult fish in South Dakota to catch and also the best table fish in the Northern Great Plains. So, they are challenging to find, put up a good fight, and rewarding to haul into the boat. Lake Angostura is one of the best walleye spots in the Mount Rushmore State. Most anglers use simple bait, like minnows. Out in deeper water, try a different kind of bait, like a crankbait or jig. The large lake supports a very diverse native fishing population, including not only walleye but also crappie, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, perch, northern pike, and bluegill.
For most people, a day of boating on Lake Angostura begins and ends at the Angostura Resort. It has 155 boat slips in three different locations along the lake’s eastern shoreline. The main marina area has a very cool floating convenience store, a nice restaurant, and a swimming pool. An artificial reef marks the border of the marina area. Beyond that point, powered watercraft can go full throttle almost all over the lake. There are a number of other cartop and ramp boat launches throughout the park. These other launches are ideal for caones, kayaks, and other unpowered craft. Try to paddle out early in the morning or late in the afternoon to catch a sunrise or sunset. You’ll be glad you did.
The nine-hole, par-36 disc golf course is quite literally carved out of the wilderness. Watch out for cacti and tics. But if you wanted a manicured golf course, you probably would not have come to this part of South Dakota. Other than those obstructions, the course is mostly clear and well-kept. There are some trees here and there, but the course is generally open, rolling hills. That terrain, and the occasional challenges, make it a lot of fun to play. The course is pretty windy. Depending on the wind direction, your score could be really low or really high.
A wide and well-marked mountain bike trail begins at the Day Use area and runs almost the entire length of the park. It’s also suitable for horseback riding and hiking. To the north, a much shorter trail leads to a scenic overlook in a wooded area. The overlook offers great views of the lake as well as the surrounding hills and grasslands. During the winter, the hiking trail becomes a snowshoe trail, and part of the camp road is open to snowmobiles. Snowmobiling over the beaches is pretty cool as well.
Spring and fall migratory seasons are a great time to see birds. Lake Angostura is not only the largest body of water in this area. It’s one of the only bodies of water in this area. That fact, along with the many trees, make Lake Angostura a popular stopping-off point for birds on their way to and from the Black Hills. Near the reservoir, look for horned grebe, eared grebe, western grebe, blue grosbeak, migrant songbirds, gulls and terns, waterfowl, and sparrows. In nearby Shep’s Canyon, look for bald eagle, canyon wren, and eastern screech owls. You might also see Pinyon Jays, Red-necked Grebe, Black and White-winged scoters, black-legged Kittiwakes, and Pacific and Red-throated loons. With so much to see don't forget to pack those binoculars in your campervan.
Fall and winter usually mean hunting in the South Dakota forests and grasslands. Check with park rangers about bag limits and seasons. Most people use rifles, but there are also some archer hunters around.