Fort Sisseton Historic State Park is a history buff's paradise with restored buildings, a lake side setting, and 14 campsites including 10 with electric hookups for motorhomes. Located 10 miles southwest of Lake City, South Dakota, the historic state park is situated near Kettle Lake and the historic grounds of Fort Sisseton. The fort was constructed in 1864 to aid in the protection of the Dakota Territories and was abandoned in 1889. The fort became worn down until the 1930s when several of the buildings were restored. In 1960, the fort was designated a historic state park and was listed as a Historic District on the National Register Historic Places in 1973.
The area surrounding Fort Sisseton Historic State Park was once the homeland of the Wahpeton-Sisseton Sioux Tribe. The tribe first encountered Europeans in the 1790s that were trapping furs in the area. The tribe signed on to the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty which opened the area up to settlers which created conflict with the tribe. The tribe currently lives on a reservation that is 30 miles away. Today there are 15 buildings within the historic state park that are completely restored.
Fort Sisseton Historic State Park features plenty of activities and attractions for RVers to enjoy. Options for fun include living history presentations, walking the grounds of the historic fort, fishing, hiking, boating on Kettle Lake, and snowshoeing. There are two premier festivals at the state park in June and December which are must-see events while visiting.
Weather at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park is ideal for RVers. Summer time brings temperatures in the 80s along with up to four inches of rain per month. Winter time ushers in temperatures in the 20s accompanied by plenty of snow with up to 11 inches per month.
RVers can access Fort Sisseton Historic State Park from County Road 5 which travels north and south through the South Dakota Glacial Lakes Area. If you are traveling southwest from Lake City you will navigate along South Dakota State Highway 10 which meanders around numerous lakes in the area until you reach the junction with County Road 5. Throughout your drive along County Road 5 and State Highway 10 you will encounter plenty of slow going with curves and the undulating prairie terrain. During your drive you might experience strong prairie winds which will hamper your traveling speed. If you are driving from Eden you will take County Road 3 west until you reach the intersection with County Road 5. The drive along County Road 3 is somewhat straight with little or no curves to hamper your traveling. You might encounter high prairie winds along the drive which can be dangerous at times.
Once you arrive at the historic state park you will follow the park road into the campground area. When inside the state park you can expect congestion before you reach the campground when passing by the fort’s grounds parking lots for day visitors. The campground road is tight with little room to navigate larger rigs. In the southern portion of the state park you will find a boat ramp where you can expect congestion too. While driving within the historic state park please adhere to all posted speed limits. Beware of sharing the road with bicyclists, pedestrians, children playing near the campground, and horses used during living history presentations.
The Fort Sisseton Historic State Park Campground is situated along one loop and contains 14 campsites including back-in 10 campsites with 30 amp electric hookups. The campground is located a few steps away from the historical fort grounds and offers some privacy and shade at each campsite. Each campsite features a fire ring, picnic table, and gravel parking pad which may require leveling. RVs and motorhomes are limited to 45 feet in length and not all campsites can accommodate larger rigs. There is no dump station within the historic state park. The nearest dump station can be found 10 miles away in Lake City. You are encouraged to fill your water tank while dumping your holding tank in Lake City. Other facilities within the campground include flush and vault toilets, showers, and water spigots. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained by a six-foot leash at all times. The campground generally turns water service off in the park from October to April each year.
Bird watching at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park is fabulous so you should pack your binoculars in your RV for the best viewing. There are more than 300 bird species that live or migrate through the northeastern South Dakota Glacial Lakes Area. You will find plenty of wetlands within the state park to enjoy watching bird species like yellow-billed cuckoos, snowy owls, red-legged hawks, western sandpipers, green heron, whooping cranes, and plenty of migrating species of ducks and geese.
Don’t worry if you forgot to pack your snowshoes in your motorhome because there are snowshoe rentals on-site. There is perfect prairie terrain in Fort Sisseton Historic State Park for snowshoeing. You can follow the quarter-mile Andrew Jackson Fisk Historic Trail through the 15 restored buildings and structures of the state park that is complete with interpretive signs. Another option is to try the longer Fort Sisseton Trail that lakes you through frozen wetlands. If that’s not enough try a sleigh ride during the park’s annual Frontier Christmas festival in December.
Hiking is a perfect thing to do in Fort Sisseton Historic State Park. The trails are not difficult and are great for families to spend a few hours checking out the natural side of the historic state park. The longer Fort Sisseton Trail has you traveling on a boardwalk through stellar wetlands that are packed with wildlife. The Andrew Jackson Fisk Historic Trail takes you through the old fort’s ground with interpretive signs at each building to help you learn more about the historical significance of the old fort.
The biggest attraction at Fort Sisseton Historic State Park is the restored 1864 fort’s buildings and structures. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the fort’s ground features 15 buildings and structures. There are splendid guided tours during the summer months and you will find plenty of living history complete with soldiers, Indians, and settlers. Another great time to visit the historic state park is in December when Frontier Christmas takes center stage with sleigh rides, crafts, and living history exhibits.
One of the more relaxing things to do in Fort Sisseton Historic State Park is to go out on Kettle Lake. There is a boat ramp to help you launch your watercraft whether you have a motorized boat, kayak, or canoe. While you are on the lake you can watch for more than 300 species of birds and fishing from a boat is always the best way to catch that dream fish. If you don’t have a canoe or kayak you can rent one on-site.
Make sure you pack your rod and reel in your rig before traveling to Fort Sisseton Historic State Park. Once you get your line wet at Kettle Lake you will be amazed at the results. The lake has a plentiful supply of walleye and yellow perch for you to catch within the 3,000 acres of water surface. There are also opportunities to catch black bullhead, black crappie, and northern pike. Don’t worry if you forget your fishing pole because you can rent one at the state park. Always check the fishing regulations in South Dakota for bag and size limits before dipping your line in the water.