Laframboise Island Nature Area is a splendid place surrounded by the Missouri River with lots of activities for every type of outdoor enthusiast. Located just minutes from Pierre, South Dakota, the nature area is situated on the Missouri River and offers RVers a chance to get in touch with nature. The nature area was created in 2002 but the island came to fame when Lewis and Clarke mentioned the island in their journal as Bad Humor Island. According to the journals of the Corps of Discovery, the expedition had a problem with the Teton Sioux while on the island. In 1817, the island was named after Joseph La Framboise, where he built a fort along the mouth of the Bad River which is west of the island. During the 1960s, the island was included in the Corps of Engineers’ Big Bend Project which changed the direction of the Missouri River forever.
The area surrounding Pierre was once the homeland of numerous Plains Indian Tribes including the Teton Sioux, Lower Brule Sioux, and the Cheyenne River Sioux. The tribes first had encounters with European fur traders in the late 1790s as many fur trading posts sprung up along the Missouri River. The tribes were mentioned in the journals of the Corps of Discovery journals including Laframboise Island known as Bad Humor Island. Folklore tales suggest the island is inhabited by spirits and is haunted.
Today, Laframboise Island Nature Area is packed with outdoor activities on the island and the Missouri River. RVers will be thrilled stretching their legs on one of the many hiking and biking trails available in the park. Other activities include water sports, fishing, and winter sports like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There is no campground at the nature area for RVs but you can find a campsite at the nearby Farm Island Recreation Area.
Weather at Laframboise Island Nature Area brings summer time temperatures in the high 80s accompanied by up to four inches of rain. Winter time brings sufficient snowfall for fun with up to seven inches per month along with temperatures in the 20s.
RVers can access Laframboise Island Nature Area from Poplar Avenue in southwest Pierre. Traveling through Pierre can be challenging for motorhomes along U.S. Highway 14 that travels through the city limits. While driving in the city you can expect plenty of congestion during rush hour along the highway. You will need to exit at Poplar Avenue and drive southwest until you cross a bridge that connects the island that is surrounded by the Missouri River. The bridge can be difficult for large campervans, campers, or trailers to maneuver because of the narrow two-lane bridge that travels over the river and the two fishing piers that are offered on the bridge. You can also expect congestion near the boat ramp as you enter the nature area. Once inside the nature area there is only one road that has a turn-around loop at the end. You will find congestion within the park because of parking issues and day use areas along the road. When driving inside the nature area you should be prepared to share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists, and numerous day users. Please adhere to all posted speed limits for safety issues.
On the way to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, or Devil’s Tower, the gated, multiple award-winning Belvidere East/Exit 170 KOA campground is family and pet-friendly. RV sites offer full hookups, cable, and Wi-Fi. Campground amenities include restrooms and showers, laundry facilities, a solar-heated pool, a game room, bike rentals, a dog park, and a pizza café. on-site, propane and firewood are available for purchase. Activities include bird, waterfowl and wildlife watching, and touring nearby attractions like the historic 1880 Town and Wall Drug.
The Farm Island Recreation Area East Campground is situated along one loop and contains 14 back-in campsites that offer electric hookups for RVs, campers, and trailers. Most campsites offer plenty of shade and privacy for RVs. Each campsite is furnished with a fire ring, picnic table and gravel parking pad that may require leveling. Rigs are limited to 65 feet in length. There is no dump station at the recreation area. You can dump your holding tank in numerous locations within Pierre. Other amenities within the campground include water spigots and vault toilets. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained at all times by a 10-foot leash. Although the campground is open year round, there is no water service from October 1st through April 30th.
There is no campground at Laframboise Island Nature Area for RVers to enjoy. You can find campsites nearby at Farm Island Recreation Area, which is just south of the island. Once at Farm Island Recreation Area Main Campground you will find 69 back-in campsites with electric hookups for RVs. The campground does not offer much privacy or shade at the campsites. Each campsite is furnished with a fire ring, picnic table, and a gravel parking pad which may require leveling. Rigs are limited to 65 feet in length and each campsite may not accommodate larger rigs. There is no dump station located within the campground and RVs can empty their holding tanks in several places within Pierre. Other facilities at the campground include an amphitheater, a playground, flush and vault toilets, and water spigots. Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained at all times by a 10-foot leash. Although the campground is open year round, there is no water service from October to April.
One of the best things to do in Laframboise Island Nature Area is to go wildlife watching. Bring your binoculars for the best views without scaring the wildlife. While on the island you can expect to see a variety of birds from hawks and bald eagles to woodpeckers and kingfishers to swans and herons. Take a walk along the Laframboise Island Trail and take a seat at one of the many benches for your best wildlife watching options.
Winter sports are plentiful at Laframboise Island Nature Area when the snow starts to fly. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are very popular during the winter season at the island. There are four specific trails you can try with cross-country skiing being the best along the eight-mile Laframboise Island Trail. Snowshoeing is best along the Forest Trail and the River Trail where you can learn more about Lewis and Clark through the many interpretive signs along the mile-long trail.
Pack your hiking boots in your RV when you travel to Laframboise Island Nature Area. There are four exciting trails to hike at the nature area including the River, Prairie, Forest and Laframboise Island Trail. Families will be thrilled with the interpretive signs about Lewis and Clark on the easy River Trail, and the forest is perfect for hiking in the trees during the fall when the leaves turn from green to orange to red to gold. The eight-mile loop of the Laframboise Island Trail is ideal for more advanced hikers, and the Prairie Trail takes you through a pristine prairie landscape on the island.
Biking at Laframboise Island Nature Area is ideal for all levels of bike riders. All four of the trails are open for biking with the River Trail being the most popular. More experienced riders will like peddling along the eight-mile long Laframboise Island Trail which takes you through a variety of ecosystems and natural landscape. The terrain is not difficult but can be challenging for less experienced peddlers. Always beware when sharing the trails with hikers.
Many RVers will take advantage of the boat ramp and launch into the Missouri River. Sailing is perfect along this stretch of the river with consistent winds and plenty of water to cruise. Once out on the water you will have splendid views of Pierre and the beautiful scenery on Laframboise Island. There are also opportunities for water skiing on the river and many people will launch a kayak or canoe and paddle around the island’s shoreline looking for ghostly features mentioned be Lewis and Clarke.
You should really take your fishing pole with you in your rig when you visit Laframboise Island Nature Area. Situated in the middle of Missouri River, you will have plenty of options for shoreline fishing, and there is a fishing dock that is ideal for catching big channel catfish in the river. The boat ramp offers opportunities for fishing directly on the river for walleye, catfish, trout, and a variety of large and small mouth bass. Please check the South Dakota fishing regulations for bag and size limits.