In the Mideastern section of South Dakota, you can find the 19-acre Sandy Shore Recreation Area. Even though it is South Dakota’s smallest state park, it has plenty to keep you busy for the day or even for a week. The park is open all year long and has showers and water available from May through September. Sandy Shore is built around the 5,250-acre Lake Kampeska, which is a glacial lake that was known as the “Lake of the Shining Shells” to the Dakota Indians many years ago. John Fremont discovered the area when exploring the Dakota Territory in 1838 and it was named “lake country of the coteau prairie” by Fremont and his partner, Joseph Nicollet.
Today, Sandy Shore Recreation Area, on the banks of Lake Kampeska, offers swimming, boating, skiing, and other water sports as well as RV, tent, and cabin camping for your convenience if you want to stay. The 17 campsites range from 68 to 80 feet long so you can find a spot to fit no matter how large your camper or RV is. The fishing is reportedly good all year long and includes sunfish, bass, pike, walleye, catfish, bluegill, crappie, and carp. And if it is beautiful scenery you are looking for, Sandy Shore is the place to be. In fact, well-known painter Terry Redlin featured many of the landmarks of the area in his paintings such as the homes along the lake and the lodge.
On South Lake Drive in Watertown South Dakota, Sandy Shore Recreation Area is a fabulous place to spend the day. Located in Mideast South Dakota, this family park is easily accessible from anywhere in the country. Just off of Interstate 29 on State Highway 212, you will pass the Watertown Municipal Airport before you reach the park. The roads to the park are generally well-kept and easy to maneuver but if you are driving a large RV, you may need to take it easy when you get closer to the park. The streets get narrower and rockier as you enter the park so you will need to watch for potholes and low hanging branches.
It is best if you just park the rig and trailer at the campsite and walk or bike to wherever you want to go in the park. Since it is a small park, you should be able to get just about anywhere you want without having to drive. However, if you do need to drive, there are a couple of parking lots where you can park the trailer or camper. If you are going boating, the parking lots by the boat docks are large enough for you to easily park your trailer while you are out for the day.
There are 17 campsites in the Sandy Shore Recreation Area Campsite. Each of these sites includes electricity, a fire pit, picnic table, and lantern pole. The pad lengths range from 68 to 80 feet long except for sites one and two, which are tent sites that are only 15 feet long. There is one ADA-accessible campsite, which is site number nine. The campground is right across the street from the beach and there is drinking water access near campsites one, five, and 11. The showers and restrooms are both located by campsite 10 and there is a playground, picnic area, and vault toilets at the end of the parking lot. Pets are welcome as long as they are on a leash or restrained at all times.
Some of the campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the discretion of the campground or park host. If you cannot find a park employee, follow the instructions on the card located on the pole at the campsite you choose.
Whether you are using your phone or a camera, you should be sure you get plenty of pictures of the beautiful scenery in Sandy Shore Recreation Area. The lake itself has a beauty of its own and you will find many different waterfowl and other critters to get shots of to share on Facebook. Get some selfies at the beach, in the lake, and at the campground with your friends and family and make it a point to get some shots of the sunset on the lake as it is beautiful any time of the year.
You cannot go to a beautiful park like Sandy Shore and not get out and explore so don’t spend all your time sitting by the rig at the campsite. There are several trails at the park, including the orange loop, which is a 14-mile loop that takes you around the entire lake. You will leave the park and go through other parks such as Jackson, Stokes Thomas, and Memorial Parks. This trail will give you a thorough view of Lake Kampeska and the area around it.
Lake Kampeska is managed by South Dakota as a Smallmouth Bass and Walleye fishery so you can find plenty of them in the lake. A good lure or jig can help you catch one of the many panfish or gamefish while some cut bait or earthworms can help you land a lunker catfish big enough for dinner. Most of the fish in the lake are over 14 inches long and catfish have been known to reach over 20 pounds, which would make a nice catfish dinner for everyone.
You don’t need a river to go floating. All you need is water and something to float on. And with a lake as big as this, there is plenty of water space for everyone. Pack the rafts or inner tubes in the camper or attach the kayaks to the top of the rig and head to Sandy Shore Recreation Area for a float trip that will take you from one part of the park to the other. After a day on the water, you will be ready to head back to the campsite for a nice relaxing evening around the campfire.
The long beach along Lake Kampeska is where the park got the name Sandy Shore Recreation Area. With several miles of clear water along the fine sandy beach, there is plenty of space to lay out a blanket, stand up an umbrella, and spend the day swimming and sunbathing before heading back to the camper or RV for a night of BBQ and campfire stories. Toss the rafts and beach toys in the camper before heading to the park so you can enjoy a day of fun in the sun.
If you like boating, be sure to attach the trailer to the RV before heading to the park because the huge Kampeska Lake has plenty of room for any size boat. Whether you have a huge houseboat, sailboat, or a small kayak or canoe, all boats are welcome at Sandy Shore Recreational Area. If you would rather watch, the Annual Kampeska Cup is held in mid-July where you can see sailors from all over the country competing for the prize. This is a fun race sponsored by the Kampeska Yacht Club for the U.S. Sailing handicapped boat race.