Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sleeping Outside in a State Park

This area is filled with numerous state parks where a family can sleep in a cabin, park a camper or pitch a tent. Those same state parks offer a variety of different activities to do whether it is boating, fishing, swimming or roasting marshmallows at a campfire.
Near Madison there are two state areas where campers can have some enjoyment.
The diversity of Lake Herman State Park west of Madison makes that a popular destination. There is lake access, trails that lead through grass prairie, wetlands and historic sites, bird watching, canoe and kayak rentals, disc golf and a swimming beach. There is also a restored 1871 cabin and cemetery. The cabin is a designated National Historic structure. There are family-oriented nature programs each weekend during the summer.
There are 72 camping sites; 69 have electrical pedestals and three are tent sites with no electricity.
Park Manager Vicki Seger said what makes Lake Herman State Park a spot for campers it is close to Madison and other attractions, as well as being a beautiful place to enjoy.
On the east side of Madison is Walker’s Point Recreation Area. It is located on Lake Madison, has canoe rentals and is also near Madison attractions.
There are 42 electrical campsites and one tent site.
Seger said Walker’s Point Recreation Area is a place for mostly water sports, but the staff also provides family-oriented nature programs every weekend.
“It is close to Madison and other area attractions with easy lake access,” she said.
Lake Vermillion Recreation Area
Straight south of Montrose is the Lake Vermillion Recreation Area.
Here, campers can be involved in fishing, boating, swimming and observing nature. The recreation area is near Palisades State Park, Big Sioux Recreation Area, Beaver Creek Nature Area, and the Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls.
There are 66 campsites, with 62 having electrical hook ups. There are also five camping cabins. There is a 400-foot swimming beach and 200-foot water ski beach. In addition, those in the recreation area can observe 175 different species of birds and wildflowers.
Lake Vermillion is the largest watershed within 30 miles of Sioux Falls.
“In the time I have been here, the park has grown in popularity and in size,” said Derek Dorr, who is entering his 10th summer as park manager. “The lake has a large variety of fish and provides the ability for water sports during the summer months. The Rec Area is made up of two campgrounds, providing a wonderful view from both sides of the lake.”
Dorr said the reason people like to camp at the spot is because Lake Vermillion is close enough to Sioux Falls to make a day trip, but far enough away to escape everyday life. “It is quiet, clean and well-maintained,” he said.
According to Dorr, the 512-acre lake was created in 1958 by impounding waters from the east fork of the Vermillion River. At the time, it was the largest project that the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks had ever undertaken.
“The lake features clear waters and abundant fish, and is a popular fishing destination for anglers year around,” Dorr said. “The size and shape of the river also make it a popular attraction for skiers and jet skiers alike.”
Lake Thompson Recreation Area
South of Lake Preston is the Lake Thompson Recreation Area. The park consists of 300 acres and the area has been documented and written about by Laura Ingalls Wilder in several of her books, according to Park Manager John Christensen.
There are 97 electrical sites and six without electricity, as well as four camping cabins and a five-bedroom group lodge. The main attraction is fishing, but there are other activities including hiking, biking and park programs. The lake has risen approximately three feet this Spring because of the average snowfall and timely Fall and Spring rains. The lake is registered as a Natural Landmark by the National Park Service due to its rising and receding waters in the past, present and future, according to Christensen.
Lake Thompson is also one of the largest natural lakes in South Dakota.
Christensen said people camp at Lake Thompson Recreation Area because of the proximity to Lake Thompson. In addition, campers like the family-based atmosphere and the short drive to Laura Ingalls Wilder activities and facilities in DeSmet.
“People like to get away from the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life and camping seems to be a great cure and break for all involved,” Christensen said.

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