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:

Friday, August 25, 2006

Lake Dimock

Lake Dimock is about 70 miles west of Sioux Falls, near the town of Dimock, South Dakota. Dimock is dominated by a very large Catholic church that rises up out of this small town as a landmark across the prairie. The first impression of this community is that of a small town off the beaten bath, a huge church, and a large cemetery. Dimock is south of Mitchell. From Sioux Falls, the easiest way to get there is to go west on State Highway 42 until it intersects with Highway 37, then go south for five miles to Dimock and then about two miles back east on 270th Street to the first turnoff north past 413th Ave. This is not an easy lake to find; I drove past it without recognizing the turnoff. A sign identifying a state access point is visible, but only after turning north on the entryway to the lake.


One of my sons was enchanted with the notion of visiting Lake Dimock because of the shape of the lake in the Sportsman’s Connection: South Dakota Fishing Map Guide. It took us about an hour and a-half to get there from our eastside Sioux Falls home.


Although the lake is rather small (75 acres), it is varied and has an extensive shoreline. There is a wide part of the lake at the eastern edge; wide enough to provide something of a chop when the wind is blowing. On this portion of the lake there are high banks with cliffs running down to the shoreline. We ran into a group of cattle on the southeastern shore, and we all gazed at each other. We observed lots of bird life on the lake, including great blue heron, ducks, and cormorants. The shoreline of Lake Dimock is very interesting because of the variation observed: from cliffs to marshes, from wide to narrow waters, and a varied airflow off the landscape. An island full of rushes, flowers, grasses, and bushes is situated in the middle of the lake area, and we landed our kayaks to walk around it. There are also a number of boulders in the water, including one very large boulder that sits like a solid island along the northern shore. The lake was created along the bed of the South Fork of Twelvemile Creek, and some trees were evidently submerged when the lake was developed. The stumps of some of these trees are still visible, and we kayaked our way through these remains of a long ago stand of trees that graced the banks of the creek.


An interesting feature of this lake is the many arms that extend in different directions. We went up one little arm of the lake near the dam, and it seems liked an idealized microhabitat for wildlife. We also kayaked up Twelvemile Creek for a mile or so and could have gone on further. This entryway into the lake is about 40-50 feet wide, deep enough for easy kayaking even in August, and filled with interesting deep vegetation along both banks. The creek extends to the west under a bridge. There is another arm of the lake that extends to the south.

There is a very attractive launching point for entry into the lake. A concrete ramp is provided, there is a modern outhouse-type toilet, and a covered shelter for a picnic has been constructed along the spacious parking area. There is even a bench provided out on a point overlooking the lake. These facilities are placed along the southern shore of the lake.


While this is a small lake, it provides a surprising degree of interest for the kayaker. I think that the varied shoreline and the irregular shape of the waterway are major qualities in my satisfaction with this setting. There seems plenty of wildlife available for viewing and a variety of vegetation. I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone taking a kayak to Lake Dimock take advantage of the opportunity to go upstream on Twelvemile Creek. This portion of the creek is like a small river, and there is a lot to see. As usual on South Dakota lakes, we were alone on the water. We went on a Friday the week school begun. Even in late August, the water level was high and we had no trouble moving about the lake. In some spots moving up Twelvemile Creek, there are shallow spots with a mud bottom, but it is pretty easy to avoid getting bogged down there. We spent about two hours on the lake.

I really liked this cruise. It is too bad that it is so far from Sioux Falls, but for people who live in the Mitchell area, especially south of Mitchell, this is a gem of a lake for tranquil paddling. I hope to return there again.

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