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, July 08, 2013

Platte Creek Recreation Area; June 19, 2013

The following is another guest narrative from Patricia, a reader of this blog, who lives in Omaha and  paddles on the lakes of South Dakota.
Platte Creek is an inlet on the east side of Lake Francis Case, southwest of Platte SD.  According to MapQuest, it's about 150 miles or two and a half hours from Sioux Falls.  I camped there on a Wednesday night and went paddling that afternoon.  I was eager to be outdoors, and so forgot to check the weather, which included 20 mph winds; otherwise I might have not made the trip.  But having driven up from Omaha, I decided to see how far I could get.  There was a nice boat ramp with light traffic on it and I started out with some reservations, as the wind was pushing me nicely along, which meant I would be facing into it on my return.
The banks were less wooded and more open ground.  Near the campground there were lots of yucca plants, which for some reason always make me think of Day of the Triffids, the sci-fi classic movie.
There were huge rocks along some of the shoreline, which quickly turned into pasture land.  I saw many small herds of cattle either moving along the shore or coming into the water for a drink.

A very curious sight was this flock of Canadian geese with one domestic white goose tagging 
As I rounded the large S-bend, I could feel the wind and the waves pick me up a couple of times and lift me forward.  It was exhilarating but I couldn't forget that it wouldn't be that easy coming back.  Water conditions settled a bit after the turn and I came upon a cluster of farm buildings on the shore with dead trees in the water and heron nests.

However, the most interesting tree had to be a dead stump on the other side of the creek.  I say that because my attention was drawn to a noisy squabble between a grackle and two kingbirds over it.  The grackle had possession and the kingbirds were dive bombing and trying to drive him away.

Past the farm, the water thinned down to a small creek with more trees on each side.  The winds subsided in the shelter of the land and trees, and the bug activity picked up.

I turned around when the combination of biting flies, shallow water, and concerns about the return trip finally overcame my curiosity.  I could see trucks on a road above as I made my turn.

On the way back, I spotted a white egret on the shore, but couldn't get too close as I was conserving my energy for the paddle back to the ramp.
It was a wrestling match once I emerged from the narrow to the wider part of the water.  I don't have any pictures coming back as I didn't dare stop paddling for fear I would fall back.  The waves looked about 12-18" to me and the wind was strong.  Coming around the bend, I checked my progress against the large rocks on the shore, and sometimes there wasn't any change. 

Eventually I did work my way back to the ramp.  I wasn't soaked by the waves but I was wetter than usual.  (My kayak is a sit-on version with drain holes, so it's natural for some waves to get in.) I set out at 4:15, turned around about 5:45, and was back at the dock by 7:45.  In retrospect, I would probably paddle this trip again, but only with less wind.  I would also book campsite 33E; it's close to the shore and has a small beach of its own, where I think I could tie my boat up and not have to bother with unloading at the ramp.

One benefit of the hard work paddling: I slept well that night.

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