Cow Creek Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

Cow Creek Recreation Area is located in central South Dakota, outside of the town of Pierre. The recreation area is situated around the Lake Oahe Reservoir. The park offers a variety of activities for nature enthusiasts, including water sports such as swimming, boating, and fishing, so make sure that you bring your equipment when you come to camp here. The lake has 2,000 miles of shoreline, so you're sure to find a fun and unique vantage point to enjoy the water along.

Cow Creek Recreation Area has other activities than just water-based ones. It is a popular area for mountain bikers to come, and hikers can also enjoy the area. Amateur and professional photographers will have opportunities to document their journey with photos of the flora and fauna in the area, including some of the same views that Lewis and Clark saw on their trek documenting the western reaches of the country.

Cow Creek Recreation Area has RV camping sites both along the shoreline and in the campground, and both offer their own distinct advantages. Shoreline camping has a great deal of privacy and is closer to the water, while camping in the campground is nearer to the amenities such as restroom facilities.

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Transportation in Cow Creek Recreation Area

Driving

Cow Creek Recreation Area is a park in Pierre, South Dakota, in the central part of the state. It is located northwest of Pierre by approximately 5 miles. The recreation area is off of Cow Creek Road, near Cow Creek and the Missouri River. You can access areas of the park throughout the year, but some amenities and facilities are closed between the beginning of October and the end of April. While the park is straightforward to get to from Pierre, you will want to be cautious when driving in the winter weather as South Dakota can get severe weather during the winter months.

When you check in at the park office in Cow Creek Recreation Area, you may want to get directions to your camping spot, although most of the camping spaces are on the main camping loop. The main camping area is further from the water, so you may not have as great of a view as the sites closer to the lake.

You can bring your boat and water equipment to Cow Creek Recreation Area to use in the lake. Many day-use visitors may have the same idea, so you may struggle to find a parking space. The campsites for your RV or camping trailer are largely back-in spots, which may pose a challenge for some drivers so exercise caution.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Cow Creek Recreation Area

Campsites in Cow Creek Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Cow Creek Recreation Area Campground

Cow Creek Recreation Area has two major sections to the campground that you can reserve a campsite at: a secluded area along the water or a campsite further back from the water and closer to amenities such as the restrooms. Some of the campsites offer electrical hookups, and there is a dump station to be used for sanitary wastes. There are also cabins that you can rent if you do not come to the recreation area with an RV.

The campground offers running water, including drinking water, and vault toilets. After you have gone fishing, the campground also has a fish cleaning station. If you want to enjoy the recreation area with your friends and family, there is a picnic shelter that you all can eat at. Certain amenities are not available in the campground all year, with running water being turned off during the winter months from October 1 to April 30.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Cow Creek Recreation Area

In-Season

Swimming

When you visit Cow Creek Recreation Area during the summer months, plan on spending hours of fun in the sun enjoying the water. Many people come to have fun swimming and reclining along the shoreline, so don't be surprised that you are not the only ones there. Many visitors and locals come to the reservoir, Lake Oahe Reservoir, to soak up some sun and partake of the delights of the outdoors as day use visitors.

Boating

At the Cow Creek Recreation Area, you can enjoy boating on the picturesque Lake Oahe Reservoir. The lake is sizeable, with over 2,000 miles of shoreline, and you can take part in boating activities or sailing fun on the water. Make sure you pack your kayak or canoe and a life vest in your camping trailer or RV to take out on the water, or if you prefer, your powered boat. You can check to see if your jet skis are allowed in the park as well.

Fishing

When you come to Cow Creek Recreation Area, you are all lined up for excellent fishing opportunities in the Lake Oahe Reservoir off of the Missouri River, so you will want to bring your fishing rod and tackle box with you in your RV. When you come to the park to fish, you are going to need to have a valid South Dakota fishing license in order to fish here, which you can get online prior to your trip.

Off-Season

Biking

A major activity that people take part in at the Cow Creek Recreation Area is mountain biking. The area is filled with trails that both hikers and bikers can enjoy, and it is explored by locals, campers, and day-use visitors. Make sure you bring your mountain bike on your RV along with your helmet so you can hit the trails. You will have the opportunity to explore the rolling hills and flat prairies of the park on your bike.

Viewing Wildlife

One of the main activities that visitors enjoy when they come to Cow Creek Recreation Area is bird watching, but you can also take the opportunity to enjoy other native wildlife, as well as the plants that grow wild around the recreation area. Bring your binoculars in your camping trailer and get ready to check out the sights. Many people also enjoy bringing their cameras to take photographs of the flora and fauna they see.

Picnicking

Whether you are relaxing by your RV or spending the afternoon along the banks of the Missouri River, you can enjoy quite a picnic at Cow Creek Recreation Area, so plan accordingly and pack your picnic basket and a blanket to enjoy the sights. Many of the campsites around the recreation area have picnic tables, so you will not have far to go to set up shop and take a load off with your family and friends.

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