This blog is designed to highlight the paddling opportunities within South Dakota, mainly within a 50-mile radius of Sioux Falls. While Sioux Falls is far from the adventure of coastal regions, there is a certain satisfaction in utilizing the available waterways to observe weather, water conditions, and the landscape along the shoreline. In addition, there is a wealth of animal life on the waters of small South Dakota lakes, rivers, and creeks, including geese, ducks, pelicans, great blue heron, egrets, hawks, owls, perching birds, deer, raccoons, and beaver. Eagles, fox, and coyote are also sometimes spotted.

The sites described are places where I have kayaked over the past few years, mostly in South Dakota but sometimes including locations in Iowa and Minnesota. One of the best sources of information on the accessibility of small lakes is the South Dakota Atlas and Gazetteer, the large map book of South Dakota. Lakes with a public access are generally identified by a boat symbol marking the location of a launching site on public land.

You will notice the menu of paddling locations on the right side of the blog. Each of the postings is linked to one of the areas, and my intention is to provide a continuing review of the places where I paddle. Perhaps these narratives will help readers select waterways of interest to them. Please feel free to offer a comment regarding any of my postings; I would welcome the dialog.

I also maintain a companion blog that describes hiking opportunities within the Sioux Falls area. You can access that blog at:

Monday, June 19, 2006

Silver Lake

Yesterday, Jarett Bies, a Sioux Falls kayaker of far greater skill and experience than me, and I spent an afternoon kayaking Silver Lake, located near Freeman, SD. This fairly large open lake is located along Highway 81, just north of Freeman and is generally circular in shape. There is a public access area on the eastern side of the lake with a concrete launching ramp and a highway rest area on the western side. A fringe of trees borders the lake, and there is an island roughly in the center. It would be fairly easy to land on the island to stroll around a bit, although we did not do that. Wildlife observed on this trip included waterfowl (geese, ducks, and cormorant) and a variety of other bird life.

We first considered launching our touring kayaks at the public access boat ramp, but it was a very windy day with the wind coming out of the west creating two foot high waves rolling into the ramp. There were also large rocks underwater on either side of the ramp. The launch looked a little dicey to me, especially since I was using one of Jarett's touring kayaks for the first time. Instead, we drove over to the rest area along Highway 81, parked the car and carried our kayaks the short distance down to a sandy shore where we could launch out of the wind. Moving out of the launching area, we encountered a pretty good chop just on the verge of forming whitecaps. The wind, however, was blowing out into the lake, and the launch was easy. After getting used to the water conditions, we headed out to the island in the center part of the lake. Throughout the outward part of this trip, we continued to experience choppy conditions. After cruising around the island, we headed over to the southern shore and found ourselves in placid waters where we could just cruise along in the lee of the trees and the higher bank. As so often happens on the prarie lakes, there always seems to be a lee side to the lake where a kayak can cruise along in tranquility.

Silver lake is clearly in agricultural country, and there is not extensive vegetation as might be seen at Grass Lake or along Split Rock Creek. It would seem that birds are the most likely wildlife to be seen on or around this body of water. Since the lake is pretty large, open, and circular, wind is more of a challenge than on some of the other area lakes. Still, Silver Lake offers an opportunity to experience a variety of water conditions and is a pretty easy spot to find. It is only a half hour or so drive from the western edge of Sioux Falls. We did not see any other boats on the lake, even though our trip was on a Sunday afternoon.

I took a couple of photographs of the lauch area at Silver Lake and the kayaks on the shore , and I will insert those photos when I have them developed.

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