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:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Pease Creek Recreation Area, Geddes SD, June 9-10, 2013

The following is a guest narrative from Patricia, a reader of this blog, who lives in Omaha and  paddles on the lakes of South Dakota.

I camped in the recreation area and was able to go paddling twice: Sunday evening and Monday morning.  Pease Creek is an inlet off Lake Francis Case, which is formed by the Missouri River behind the Fort Randall Dam.  There is a boat ramp that was used heavily by motorboats, but most must have headed out for the big water because I saw very few boats.
Sunday evening late I headed to the right from the ramp, following the east shoreline.  I heard lots of birds and crickets, but did not see many birds save for a bluejay and a goldfinch couple who followed me along the shore partway.  The most interesting sights for me were the fantastic figures formed by the bare dead trees and the interesting large rocks.  These last were both along the water's edge and in precarious positions in the tree roots.

The inlet eventually narrowed and began to meander, making a big S curve.  I wanted to keep going but the sun was below the bluffs on the west shore, so I knew my time was growing short. I finally turned back reluctantly, promising myself I would come straight back here in the morning.
I had a surprise coming back: there was a small island in the inlet, to the west, that I missed on the way out.  It blended in so well with the bluff behind it on my left that I didn't see it, since the setting sun caused me to look mostly to the right on the way out.
The last striking visual I had was the sun highlighting some tall bluffs where the inlet touches the lake.
Fast forward to the next morning when I was on the water by 6:30 am (this doesn't always happen).  There was only one boat trailer in the parking lot then; when I returned about 9:30, the lot was full.  Instead of taking in the scenery this time, I made a beeline to last night's turn around.  It took me about forty minutes to get back to that point; it took me only another two minutes to reach the end of the open water.  I had quit one bend short of where the rocks made the creek impassable.
I then proceeded back, hugging the west shoreline this time.  It was not as wooded or rocky, and I saw more birds flying about.  The structure of the bluffs was visible and a lesson in geology and plant life.
A solitary coot flew in and landed nearby, which I considered to be unusual behavior.  I usually see coots in large groups, and they are generally flying away from me.  My first thought was that Ernest Thompson Seton would have given this fellow a quaint descriptive name and written a story about how he came to be there by himself.
A large bay on the west had an interesting feature, tall dead trees with clumps of sticks lodged in their branches.  As I came closer, I noticed a heron perched on top and realized the sticks were probably nests.  I stopped approaching then, and backed up as quietly as I could because I didn't want to disturb any birds.  It was the closest I've ever gotten to a heron and very exciting.

I finished up following the west shore and cut across the inlet to return to the boat ramp.  The breeze was just beginning to pick up along with the boat traffic (all very nice and friendly), so it was a good time to head back, pack up the tent and drive home.  Mapquest claims that Pease Creek Recreation Area is two and a half hours from Sioux Falls; I wish it were that close to Omaha.

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