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:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Beaver Lake - May 2007

Beaver Lake – May 8, 2007

This morning I returned to Beaver Lake, located just off Interstate 90 on the edge of Humbolt. Readers should refer to the preceding Beaver Lake narrative for exact directions. It is on 259th Street, just east of the Humbolt School and is 32 miles from my eastside Sioux Falls home. My preferred route to the lake is west on Highway 42 to Highway 19, and then north to Humbolt.


Unlike previous ventures on Beaver Lake, the surface this morning when I arrived at 10:30 a.m. was nearly mirror calm. Later on there was a light wind, but the paddling was easy and there were only small waves at times. This is a large open lake, and wind conditions vary a great deal across the water. A decent launching area is maintained by the SD Game, Fish, and Parks: a vault toilet, a good approach and parking area, and a dock.


It was very quiet this morning on the lake, and a cacophony of bird calls was constant. There was virtually no wind to diminish the sounds of the birds.


The southern shore line of the lake is generally wooded, along with the large island in the eastern part of the lake. Even though the lake is quite full from recent rains, there are high banks along much of the lake.


I came across lots of nesting ducks and geese. In addition, I saw great blue herons and pelicans. Often ducks would fly up out of the reeds along the shore as my kayak approached. One large goose flew out across the water at me and then went back ashore and paced me until stopped by a fence. The goose wanted to ensure that I got the message that human presence was unwanted.


With the calm water, I was able to easily cruise around the large wooded island to observe more bird life. I did not see any mammals out today along the shore line. The spring vegetation was lush and presented a pleasing view as I moved along the shore line.


It took me about 90 minutes to cruise the circumference of the lake. Sometimes I would put some muscle into the paddle, but I would also just drift along at times trying to get a photograph of a large bird. The lake was deserted this morning until the end of my cruise; as I approached the dock, a guy in a canoe with an electric motor silently passed by.


This was my first cruise of the year. I have been out of the country for the past several weeks, and I was anxious to get out on the water. With all the rain we have experienced lately, rivers are running a bit fast and deep. Lakes, however, always provide a great opportunity for the lone paddler to enjoy a cruise without having to arrange for a shuttle or worry about swollen rivers. When the winds are relatively calm, Beaver Lake is a great nearby place for a nice cruise. Readers should be aware, however, that this can be a very windy lake with big waves.



Anonymous said...

Jay -

Glad to see you're back in the water.

I visted Beaver Lake two weeks ago. It was a very windy day with extreme waves. I actually enjoyed plowing across the center of the lake with large waves.

May kayaking partner & myself both agreed that this was a great lake to explore.


Jay Heath said...

Well, Steven, as you can see from my earlier narrative on Beaver Lake, I have always found it windy with big waves as well. I would feel more secure in my larger kayak with rudder and watertight compartments.It is also better to be out on the water with someone else in the event of a capsize.

All in all, I enjoyed the tranquile cruise this time a bit more than I did the last couple of times. It is a nice lake to visit: close, varied waters and landscape, and plenty of waterfowl to watch.

Next week I plan on returning to Splitrock Creek at Garretson to check out the cliff swallows.

Best regards,


Danny said...

Your driving directions are a huge plus for finding these lakes. Thanks again.

Danny said...

We paddled this lake on a very windy day in our Sea Eagle 330, which is an inflatable kayak. It's practically immune from chop and plows through waves as though they aren't even there. It's great because your center of gravity is very, very low and all of your buoyancy is on the side of the vessel. It's pretty neat.

About the only drawback to the design is that it doesn't track as well as a traditional kayak. After spending a few years with the boat, I've mastered keeping it on the straights with no problems.

Jay Heath said...

Hi Danny, I have appreciated your comments. By posting remarks to old narratives, however, you run the probability that the comments will be overlooked. Also, posting this far back means that other readers are likely to miss your observations. Many people just read the latest post for a body of water.

Your observations regarding the various lakes are a nice addition, and I encourage you to continue offering your comments.