Swan Creek Recreation Area
Guide

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Introduction

Located along rolling prairie bluffs on the shore of Lake Oahe in South Dakota, Swan Creek Recreation Area is a fishing party's dream. Not only is it a great place to soak up the majesty and endless skies of the South Dakota Prairie, but it also gives you access to the full 231-mile length of Lake Oahe. Whether you are dreaming of hooking a Chinook Salmon without driving your rig all the way to the west coast or just want to enjoy the wide open spaces, Swan Creek is an ideal spot. In July and August, average highs can hang around 85 degrees.

Swan Creek is a great spot for RVs. The 26 campsites have electric hookups and drinking water. There are outhouses and, most importantly, a boat ramp for getting out on the water. There are two separate campgrounds, both along the waterfront. Swan Creek Recreation Area is a bit remote, but it enjoys exceptionally easy accessibility for RVs. It is also one of South Dakota's state parks located along the legendary Lewis and Clarke Trail. Follow in the footsteps of those great explorers, soak up the prairie sun and reel in the catch of the lifetime at this cozy, peaceful idyll.

RV Rentals in Swan Creek Recreation Area

Transportation in Swan Creek Recreation Area

Driving

One of the great things about RVing in the prairies is the ease of driving. Elevation and windy roads are unheard of in this part of the country, and driving hazards are rare. Winter does, however,  have a tendency to be a bit nasty. Be ready for icy conditions on fairly small, remote country roads. At any time of year, keep an eye out for deer. The village of Akaska is about nine miles east. If anything, the biggest danger out here is falling asleep driving along some of the long, perfectly straight roads.

Parking

Parking at Swan Creek Recreation Area is a dream. Roads within the park are as straight and flat as they are on the way in. There is ample parking space near the boat launch of both campgrounds. The west boat launch has especially ample parking space for a large number of rigs with boat trailers.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Swan Creek Recreation Area

Campsites in Swan Creek Recreation Area

Reservations camping

Swan Creek Recreation Area West

This campground is located 500 yards west past the East Campground along the western shore of the peninsula on which Swan Creek Recreation Area is located. Each site has electric hookups and a picnic table. Some of the services are located back down the road at the East Campground, including the new shower hut. What this campground does have in close proximity to outhouses, water spigots, and a fish-cleaning station. The campground is also adjacent to the largest parking lot in the recreation area. As with the rest of the recreation area, this campground is open year round, but water is not available from October to April. The campsites are located closer to one another than need be, but the sites are generally clean, quiet and pet- and family-friendly.

Swan Creek Recreation Area East

This campground provides easy access to a boat launch a few hundred yards south, at the tip of the peninsula. Drinking water, 50-amp hookups, and a dump station are available on site. Vault toilets and a newly built shower hut are also nearby. One nice thing about Swan Creek Recreation Area is that it is open year round, although water is not available from October to April.

Pets are welcome and there are plenty of barbecue facilities for all. Akaska, nine miles up the road, offers basic services including gas, a convenience store, and a diner. Swan Creek Recreation Area is a very clean, quiet, and family-friendly campground. You will likely meet a few campers who return year after year. The one issue is that, despite the wide open spaces, the campsites are arranged very close to one another.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Swan Creek Recreation Area

In-Season

Swimming

If you don't have a boat or just want to cool off from the bright prairie sun, the peninsula on which Swan Creek Recreation Area is located gives you plenty of shoreline from which to refresh yourself in Lake Oahe's cooling waters. Swim out to the small island off the tip of the peninsula and explore it before heading back to the campsite for lunch. There are sandbars near each boat launch which are the easiest places to swim or relax by the water. So don't forget to pack your swim suit and sunscreen in your campervan.

Boating and Waterskiing

If fishing isn't your thing but you still want to get out on the water, Lake Oahe is more than big enough for everyone. Whether you are into cruising along enjoying the scenery or want to kick it up a notch with some waterskiing or wakeboarding, this is the perfect place. Swan Creek Recreation Area enjoys a great location at the lake's mid-point for exploring what Oahe has to offer. From here you can spend days or weeks uncovering the lake's secrets.

Fishing

Lake Oahe is a huge reservoir behind the Oahe Dam on the Missouri river. About 230 miles long, it is the fourth largest reservoir in the USA. Swan Creek Recreation Area has two boat launches giving you unrestricted access to the lake. Try your luck casting or trawling for walleye, northern pike, channel catfish, or smallmouth bass. Chinook salmon, native to the Pacific Northwest, are artificially stocked in the lake for a unique prairie angling experience.

Off-Season

Picnicking

Swan Creek Recreation Area has ample space to find a secluded spot for a nice family picnic. Barbecue facilities are also provided although you will need to bring your own charcoal. The village of Akaska is only nine miles away in case you need to pick anything up. Drinking water is available on site. Consider bringing your own form of sunshade at the height of summer. What better way to round off a day by the lake than barbecuing your catch with your loved ones while taking in a prairie sunset.

Hiking

Although the area does not have a lot of maintained trails, wandering around the prairie bluffs is a great way to clear the mind, commune with nature, and forget your worries. There is a good chance of spotting wildlife like deer or coyotes. A stroll along the lakeside is also a great way to soak up the sights, especially if you don't happen to have a boat. Bring plenty of water in summer and don't forget the sunscreen in your rig.

Bird Watching

Get those binoculars out of your camper or trailer. The area around lake Oahe is great for birdwatching as the terrain is very open and the visibility is usually impeccable. Bring your binoculars and a keen and you have a fair shot at spotting rare gems like a Clark's grebe or a least bittern. Other exciting species include the Ovenbird, Bobolink, Green Heron, American Redstart, Hooded Merganser, Stilt Sandpiper, Bell's Vireo, Palm Warbler, Whip-poor-will, Eastern Screech-Owl, and Red-Bellied Woodpecker.

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