Burke Lake Recreation Area is a great place with plenty of forested shoreline, lots of outdoor activities and 15 campsites for RVs or motorhomes. Located two miles east of Burke, South Dakota, the recreation area is situated along side Burke Lake in a forested prairie landscape. The natural lake was formed from glacial activity hundreds of centuries in the past and is named for former Congressman Charles H. Burke.
The area surrounding Burke Lake Recreation Area was once the ancestral lands of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. The tribe also known as the People of the End Village, played a key role in protecting the nearby Pipestone Quarry. The tribe made first contact with European fur traders in the late 1790s and were mentioned in the journey of Lewis and Clarke on their Discovery Expedition. In 1858, the tribe entered into the Treaty of Washington that opened lands to settlers. Today the tribe resides on a reservation nearby the recreation area.
Burke Lake Recreation Area is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts with a plethora of activities for all seasons. Summer brings water sports like boating, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing into play. Winter and fall is best for hunting, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and sledding.
Weather at Burke Lake Recreation Area is superb for RVing with summer time temperatures in the mid-80s and up to three inches of rain per month. Winter time is accompanied by temperatures in the mid-20s along with up to eight inches of snow.
Motorhomes can access Burke Lake Recreation Area from several entrance points. If you are traveling east from Burke you have two choices. The first choice is to navigate U.S. Highway 18 southward until you reach County Road 8. The drive along Highway 18 is not difficult, although you may encounter high winds, undulating prairie terrain and washboard along the gravel road. The entrance point you will reach is on the southwestern portion of the recreation area.
The second option from Burke is to travel east on County Road 36. The county road travels over undulating prairie terrain until you reach the northern entrance point in the recreation area. If you are traveling northwest from Herrick, you will navigate U.S. Highway 18 until you reach County Road 29. The drive along Highway 18 is not difficult but you might have problems with high winds and the undulating prairie terrain which can be steep between hills.
Once inside the recreation area there is one gravel road that travels from the southwest and southeast to the northern portion of the recreation area. RVs will find congestion around the boat ramp which is south of the campground. There is also congestion near the day use areas which are located in the southern portion of the recreation area. While driving in the recreation area please adhere to all speed limits. Beware that you will need to share the road within the recreation area with pedestrians, bicyclists, and children playing in the campground.
The Burke Lake Recreation Area Campground is situated along one loop on a gravel road and consists of 15 back-in campsites that do not offer any type of services. The campsites are within a well-forested area. RVs can expect plenty of privacy and shade. The campground is an easy walk to Burke Lake. Each campsite is furnished with a fire ring, picnic table and gravel parking pad which may require leveling. RVs are limited in size to 45 feet in length, although each campsite may not accommodate larger rigs.
There is not a dump station available at the recreation area. Motorhomes can dump holding tanks at several locations within Burke. RVs are encouraged to fill their water tanks while dumping. Other facilities within the campground include vault toilets and water spigots. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Pets must restrained at all times on a 10-foot leash or shorter. Although the campground is open all year round, water services will be turned off from October until April.
Spring and fall bring out the best times to go bird watching at Burke Lake Recreation Area. The grassy prairie landscape is perfect to spot pheasants, turkeys, and sage grouse roaming the plains. Many duck and geese species will migrate to the area in the fall and spring months. Other birds you can expect to see are red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, barn owls, and there are sandhill and whooping cranes. For the best viewing options bring your binoculars in your RV with you.
Many hunters with motorhomes will make Burke Lake Recreation Area their base camp. When the prairie landscape turns to a burnt orange there is excellent hunting opportunities within the surrounding area and the 206-acre recreation area. While hunting in the area you will have plenty of chance for wild pheasant, turkey, mourning doves, numerous species of ducks and geese. There are also options for white-tail deer. Please check the South Dakota hunting regulations about hunting seasons and bag limits.
Pack your winter sports gear when you travel to Burke Lake Recreation Area in your camper or trailer. The recreation area offers excellent terrain for sledding and sliding down the undulating prairie landscape on an inner tube. Other options include snowshoeing along the West Shoreline Hiking Trail. The moderate trail offers a challenging landscape with a sufficient snow pack and beautiful wintery scenery for your eyes to enjoy. Another place for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing within the recreation area is the gravel road that travels through to several day use areas which are perfect to warm up and eat lunch.
Burke Lake Recreation Area is a hot bed for water sports during the summer months. If you towed your boat behind your motorhome you can launch at the boat ramp that is south of the campground. Many people take advantage of the high prairie winds with their sail boats. The 25-acre lake is ideal for fishing and pulling inner tubes with a motorized water craft. You can also take advantage of the scenery by paddling in a kayak in the lake. There is plenty of shoreline to take advantage of if you want to go swimming too.
Bring your hiking boots in your campervan when you travel to Burke Lake Recreation Area. There is plenty of prairie terrain to explore within the 206-acre recreation area. You can stroll along the shoreline for a perfect look at the lake and surrounding scenery. The West Shoreline Hiking Trail is ideal for moderate hikers that want a challenging trail that is less than one mile one way. Access to the trail head is easy and starts from the campground.
The fishing at the 25-acre Burke Lake is plentiful. The lake is only eight feet deep so take some lighter tackle with you and bobbing from a boat or kayak is an excellent idea. There are opportunities to catch numerous species of fish including small and large mouth black bass, yellow perch, northern pike, yellow bullhead, and there is lots more pan fish to be caught. Check South Dakota fishing regulations for bag and size limits.