Mina Lake Recreation Area is a perfect place to take your camper with plenty of shoreline, activities galore, and 37 campsites offering electrical hookups. Located 11 miles west of Aberdeen, South Dakota, the recreation area is situated on the shoreline of the horseshoe-shaped Mina Lake. Mina Lake was created in 1934 after the construction of an earthen dam which was one of the first in South Dakota. Mina Lake was originally named after a Lakota term called Shake Maza which translates to “shaped like a horseshoe.” The recreation area became part of the state park system in South Dakota in 1969.
Mina Lake Recreation Area was once the ancestral homeland of the Arikara and Wahpeton Sisseton Oyate Indian Tribes. The tribes first encountered European fur trappers in the 1820s when trading posts were constructed to help sell the furs. The tribes entered into the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 and 1868 but with the encroachment of settlers into the Northern Plains much conflict sprung up between the Plains Indian Tribes and settlers. The nearby town of Aberdeen, South Dakota was incorporated in 1882 and was serviced by the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railroad also known as the Milwaukee Road.
Today, Mina Lake Recreation Area is an ideal place to visit in your rig with plenty of outdoor activities like water sports, hiking, fishing, and there is a swimming beach. In the winter you can indulge in winter sports like snowshoeing. The campground provides electrical hookups and is situated on the shoreline allowing for easy access to Mina Lake. There are several day use areas for picnicking that include a children’s playground.
The weather at Mina Lake Recreation Area is ideal for camping in your rig with summer time temperatures in the mid-80s with up to three inches of rain per month. Winter time brings up to seven inches of snow per month accompanied by temperatures in the mid-20s.
RVers can access Mina Lake Recreation Area at the intersection of County Road 33 and Park Avenue.
Driving east from Aberdeen you will need to navigate U.S. Highway 12 which is a good road with little obstacles for drivers except the undulating prairie landscape and high winds may prohibit your speed. You will travel north at the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and County Road 35 also known as Nesbitt Drive. You will need to maneuver several curves on County Road 35 which follows the shoreline of Lake Parmley while you drive north until you reach State Highway 134 also known as the old Highway 12. Traveling west along State Highway 134 you will cross a bridge where you will then drive south on South Sunset Drive which follows the western shoreline of Lake Parmley. At the junction of south Sunset Drive and Park Avenue you will enter the recreation area. Traveling west from Ipswich you will navigate on U.S. Highway 12 until you reach County Road 15 also known as 370th Avenue. At the junction you will drive north until you reach Old Highway 12 where you will begin to travel east until you reach the junction with County Road 33 where you will then travel south until you reach Park Avenue.
Once inside the park there is one road that travels throughout the recreation area. The campground is in the western portion of the recreation area. As you travel from the campground south along the road you will encounter congestion at several places including the day use areas where you will find parking lots, a boat ramp, picnicking areas, and plenty of people. Be sure to share the road when driving in the recreation area where you will find pedestrians, bicyclists, and children playing. Please adhere to all posted speed limits within the recreation area.
The Mina Lake Recreation Area Campground is situated along one road and one loop with 37 back-in campsites that feature electrical hookups for campers. The campground is located along the shoreline of Mina Lake and is sparsely forested with minimal shade and privacy. Each campsite is furnished with a fire ring, picnic table, and paved parking pad which may require some type of leveling. RVs are limited to 65 in length and not all campsites can accommodate larger rigs. There is a dump station located near the entrance to the recreation area. You are encouraged to fill your water tanks while dumping holding tanks. 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 ten-foot leash at all times. Although the campground is open year round, there is no water service from October 1st until April 30th of each year.
Many hunters will flock to the campground at Mina Lake Recreation Area when hunting season begins. The campground is ideal to make your base camp at with electric hookups for rigs. The surrounding area is packed with plenty of open fields for excellent opportunities to bag a pheasant, wild turkey, mourning doves, and white tailed deer. Check with South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks for hunting seasons, licensing, and bag limits. Always check for permission before hunting on private land.
Wildlife watching and birding are fun things to do in Mina Lake Recreation Area. With plenty of shoreline along the horseshoe shaped lake, the wildlife and birds are plentiful. You can expect to spot red-tailed hawks, blue herons, woodpeckers, egrets, and several species of ducks and geese while you relax on the shoreline of the lake. Animals you can watch in their natural habitat include muskrats, wild turkey, an occasional beaver, white-tailed deer, and mule deer. Fall is the best time of year for wildlife watching when the trees turn a plethora of colors and the prairie grasslands become bright orange.
Winter time at Mina Lake Recreation Area is perfect after the snow starts to fall and accumulate. Snowshoeing is the most popular thing to do in Mina Lake Recreation Area in the winter time. The Shake Maza Interpretive Trail is ideal for first timers using their snowshoes. The trail is flat with little undulating terrain and there are plenty of interpretive to read along the way. There are other stellar areas in the recreation area north of the campground and around the southern day use for more advanced snowshoeing.
Campers with families that like to go hiking will be thrilled with the Shake Maza Interpretive Trail at Mina Lake Recreation Area. While hiking along the three-quarter mile trail you will encounter 19 interpretive signs explaining everything from the trees and plants to the pre-construction landscape and building of the dam to wildlife and Native Indians in the area. The easy hike is ideal to spend an hour or two learning about the unique ecosystem of the recreation area. Whatever hike you choose it would be a shame if you didn't pack those hiking boots in your campervan or trailer.
Mina Lake Recreation Area is a haven for water sport enthusiasts. You can take advantage of the boat ramp to launch your water craft whether you are cruising or sailing the 805-acre lake. Water skiing, jet skiing, and pulling inner tubes is quite popular during the hot summer months. There is ample room on the lake for kayaking and canoeing when you want to paddle around looking for a perfect lunch spot. Swimmers are pleased with the swimming beach area where you will find a protected swimming zone.
One of the more popular things to do in Mina Lake Recreation Area is fishing. Most campers bring a good rod and reel to help catch their dream fish. There is ample shoreline to explore for the perfect spot to dip your line. If you pulled a boat behind your trailer you can launch at the on-site boat ramp. Trolling and shore fishing is best for channel catfish, walleye, bluegill, and black crappie. Please check South Dakota fishing regulations for bag and size limits.