With lots of trees and shady areas, Oahe Downstream Recreation Area offers a perfect getaway experience to those who want to unwind and recharge before diving into the hectic schedules of their daily routines.
Located five miles of Fort Pierre and spreading over 900 acres of land, Oahe Downstream Recreation Area is just the place to lie low, calm down, and treat your mind and body with a number of recreation activities in this oasis of natural beauty. RV campers with a love for green rolling lands, birds, panoramic views, and water will fall in love with this vast and therapeutic retreat.
This fantastic recreation area, located in the heart of South Dakota, came into existence after Engineers built the Oahe Dam in 1948, and harnessed it for electricity production in 1962. Oahe is the fourth largest man made reservoir in the United States and stretches 231 miles in length and connects to the capital cities of South Dakota and North Dakota.
The clean facilities, copious recreational opportunities, and the beach experience makes Oahe Downstream Recreation Area one of the favorite places to visit for regular RV campers and outdoor enthusiast. New campers are also bound to immediately fall in love with its many charms, and how can they not? The view of the park and the experience it offers are simply unforgettable.
Oahe Downstream Recreation Area is situated five miles of Fort Pierre on Highway 1806. The recreation area is to the south of the Oahe Dam. If you’re traveling from afar, the nearest town you’ll find to the recreational area is Pierre. Right by the entrance is the visiting center, and there are pull-thru sites relatively close to the entrance. The trails, the campgrounds, and all the boundaries and different recreation areas are marked properly. Getting to any of the places after checking in is not a problem at all. The rangers are super friendly and accommodating so do not hesitate to approach them if faced with an issue.
The Oahe Downstream Recreation Area houses three expansive campgrounds with modern amenities.
All three campsites collectively offer 205 campsites. Campground 1, campground 2, and campground 3 have parking and camping offices right outside their premises.
Campground 1 & 2 are situated close to one another on the north side of Oahe Downstream Recreational area with Lake Sharpe and the Missouri River to the East of the campground areas. Campgrounds 1 has more than 60 campsites that are spread out and offer more in terms of privacy.
There are a number of pull-thru sites available as well as drive-in campsites. Electric hookups are provided at all campsites with a dump station, potable water, and water spigots in the camping areas.
All three campgrounds also feature a comfort station with a clean shower area with hot water as well as a playground and picnic areas. Campground are accessible to people with disabilities.
The park is open year round for day use while camping is not allowed from November to March for bald eagle winter roosting.
Campground 2 has around a hundred campsites that are closely packed and offer much of the same amenities and facilities as campground 1. The campground has two toilet and shower facilities along with a playground and connects to hiking trails that wind through the park. It is also close to the swimming area for campers that want to enjoy lake side activities.
Campground 3 is situated at the South end of Oahe Downstream Recreational Area and offer campsites directly overlooking Lake Sharpe as well as eight lake facing cabins that come fully furnished and equipped with all the luxuries and amenities available at home. The campground has sheltered cabins, sheltered picnic areas, playgrounds, showers, and flush toilets along with many recreational activities offered close to the site.
The trees, the diverse flora, and the smooth green and hilly terrain of the Oahe Downstream recreation area offer a superior hiking experience. The area has two easy hiking trails, perfect for families and friends out for a vacation. The Cottonwood Path Trail and the Lewis and Clark Trail are both rated as appropriate for people of all ages by the park authorities. The trail offers an imposing view of the humongous body of water below and the splendid sights of bald eagles circling above the cottonwood trees.
RV campers wouldn’t want to leave this haven without fishing. Once you are too physically tired from other recreational activities, take a break and enjoy some relaxing fishing by the pier. The large reservoir is packed with walleye, bass, sauger, trout, salmon, northern pike, channel catfish, and panfish. Make sure you have a license so that you can enjoy the facilities including a fishing dock and a fish cleaning station after your angling adventure.
The diverse species of native birds bring a new opportunity for campers every season. This area of South Dakota is a regular layover for various migratory birds. If you keep an eye out, you might even get to see some of the rarer bird species in the area. However, one bird that is sure to reward the patience of birdwatchers in the downstream area are the bald eagles. During the winters, the eagles are almost always often found perched on the towering trees 50 feet from the riverbank. It’s a perfect chance to get close to these magnificent birds or capture the moment forever with a timely photograph.
There’s not a moment of boredom at Oahe Downstream Recreation Area. Outdoor enthusiast and RV campers will always find something immersive to relax their mind and body. The recreation area offers an archery range, in addition to the rifle and shotgun range. Then there’s the popular nine-hole disc golf course that attracts amateur golfing enthusiasts and allows them to socialize and make some new friends. Other recreation activities include areas for sand volleyball, off-road vehicle trails, and horseshoe pitching.
Located near the main entrance, ‘butterfly garden’ is the perfect place to seek some enlightening activities during the winter months. There are 17 species of native prairie plants in South Dakota’s prairie butterfly garden, along with the common butterfly species of the region. Additionally, there are always fun programs arranged by the authorities for visitors to enjoy.
Oahe Downstream Recreation Area features 400 acres of hilly grassland terrain for thrill seekers to ride their ATVs and UTVs. There’s also a motocross track in the recreation area.
Campers would need to haul the machines to the trail area as there is no direct access path from the campground to the OHV area.