In Hot Springs, South Dakota nestled in the Black Hills National Forest along Sheps Canyon Bay, you can find Sheps Canyon Recreation Area. This is one of the newest RV campgrounds on Angostura Reservoir and offers excellent fishing opportunities, access to a boat ramp, swimming, and even a horse camp. The lodge itself was originally the U.S. Army Ordinance Depot from 1942 until 1968 and was located in Provo until it was bought and moved to the park in 1996. The log bunkhouse was originally used as a schoolhouse in Black Hills but is now a cabin for glampers.
Boating, fishing, and swimming are all popular water sports at Sheps Canyon so make sure you hook up the boat trailer before heading out and pack those water toys. Whether you like to jet-ski, wakeboard, or just do some trolling, this huge 4,407-acre reservoir has plenty of room for everyone to do their thing. And with a depth of 75 feet, expect to catch some huge lunkers if you are fishing.
The Angostura Reservoir is a part of the Cheyenne River and has more than 40 miles of shoreline to explore. There are several sandy beaches and hundreds of coves to explore if you head out on a boat, canoe, or kayak. The lake is well-known for its excellent walleye population as well as bass, pike, and sunfish.
In the southwestern corner of South Dakota just six miles from Hot Springs, Sheps Canyon Recreation Area is a hidden oasis of water fun right off Interstate 18. Whether you are coming from across town or across the country, the park is easy to find, and the drive is filled with gorgeous Black Hills and mountains as well. You can even take a cruise by Mount Rushmore on your way, which is right off highway 16A, about an hour north of Sheps Canyon Recreation Area.
After leaving Interstate 18, the roads will get trickier and the closer you get to the park, the narrower and curvier the roads get. Therefore, if you are pulling a camper or driving a large RV, you will need to take it slow and easy. Enjoy the countryside and take pictures of the natural beauty of the Black Hills.
The park roads are well-cared for but the roads heading into the campgrounds are gravel and can have low hanging branches during the spring and summer. It is best to park your rig at your campsite and travel around the park on foot, horseback, or bike. The park is not so big that you will need to drive much but the day-use area where the boat launch is has plenty of space to park your rig and trailer.
The Sheps Canyon Recreation Area Campground has 22 electric sites open year-round. Each campsite has a fire pit with grill, picnic table, and a pad from 55 to 85 feet long. Each campsite provides 50-amp electric hookups and there is a freshwater spigot by the entrance to the campground. There is also a comfort station with restrooms and a shower house in the middle of the campground, but the water is shut off from October until May. You can find a vault toilet between campsites 13 and 14 and there is a self-registration station by the comfort station. The reservoir is within a few feet of the campground and the boat ramp is at the end of the campground road, where you can also find another vault toilet. There is one ADA-accessible site (number 14) but you must provide proof of disability. Dogs are also welcome but must be kept restrained or on a leash at all times.
The Equestrian Campground is open all year long and has 11 campsites with no hookups but they each have a picnic table, fire pit with grill, and a small horse corral. Each of the campsite pads are 75 feet long so you should have no trouble fitting in your RV or camper as well as your horse trailer. There is a potable water hydrant and a vault toilet at the trailhead by campsite six and it is just steps from the Angostura Reservoir where your horse can get a drink as well. Dogs are also welcome but must be kept restrained or on a leash at all times.
It is recommended that you make a reservation but if you did not, some campsites may be available on a day-to-day first-come, first-served basis. However, you should check with a park employee before unpacking.
The main attraction of Sheps Canyon Recreation Area is Angostura Reservoir. It is well-known for its awesome abundance of fish as well as other boating activities. Pack your rafts or innertubes in the RV so you can do some wakeboarding, or you can even waterski. There are many jet-skis on the lake during the summer and you will find that no matter how busy the lake seems, there is always plenty of room for you to find a private cove or gravel bar to spend the day at.
There is a plethora of different aquatic animals from frogs and turtles to fish and crawdads, as well as waterfowl and raptors. The main attraction for fishers has always been the Walleye but you can find just about any kind of fish here such as perch, bass, catfish, pike, and sunfish. Don’t forget to pack your fishing poles in the camper and bring a net because there are some trophy-sized fish in the reservoir that can reach up to 50 pounds or more. If you do forget your poles, you can borrow one from the park.
Bring your pool noodles, rafts, and beach balls so you can spend the day in the water instead of sitting around the RV all day. Sunshine is good for you and you will get a lot of it at Sheps Canyon Recreation Area because there is not much shade so bring sunscreen too. You can play on the beach, sunbathe, or even build a sandcastle if you like. Just remember to be safe because there is no lifeguard so you will be swimming at your own risk.
There are several trails around Sheps Canyon Recreation Area, but most are unnamed and unmarked so you will just have to go exploring to find out where they go. Make sure you bring your cell phone or a GPS device and water just in case you get lost. The majority of the trails branch off the five-mile horse trail and meander along the Cheyenne River and the Angostura Reservoir but there are some that start at the campsite and the day-use area.
The Equestrian Campground is further into the park and has 11 sites where you can keep your horse with you at the campsite in the corrals they provide. The horse trail trailhead is at the end of the Equestrian Campground and takes you along the Angostura Reservoir and by the Cheyenne River. At around two miles into the hike, you will see a dugout where you can take a break and there is an overlook at the end where you can see for miles.
Pack a lunch, grab some grub at one of the fast food joints in town, or use one of the grills available around the park to BBQ the fish you caught. There are picnic tables and BBQ pits all over the park, mostly by the water, where you can enjoy the day with your friends and family. Invite as many as you can fit in the RV if you want because there is plenty of room, especially during the off-season from October until May.