- The fourth largest manmade lake runs north to south in the middle of South Dakota, crossing over into North Dakota.
- This artificial reservoir of Lake Oahe is the deepest lake and the biggest lake in South Dakota.
- The lake is named after the Oahe Mission which was once located where the lake now stands.
South Dakota is known for Mount Rushmore and the badlands, but are there any sizeable lakes in the state? Yes! Actually, the fourth largest manmade lake runs north to south in the middle of the state crossing over into North Dakota. Lake Oahe is the biggest lake in South Dakota but is it the deepest? Some small lakes can be remarkably deep. Read on to discover all about the deepest lake in South Dakota.
What Is The Deepest Lake In South Dakota?
The deepest lake in South Dakota is Lake Oahe. This artificial reservoir is the deepest lake and the biggest lake in South Dakota. It stretches from Bismark, ND down to Pierre, SD. The lake extends about 231 miles from end to end.
How Deep Is The Deepest Lake In South Dakota?
The deepest lake in South Dakota is 205 feet deep at the deepest point. Lake Oahe varies by deepness with shallower depths near the shoreline and some of the deepest spots near the Oahe Dam.
How Did Lake Oahe Get Its Name?
The lake is named after the Oahe Mission which was once located where the lake now stands. Back in 1872, Thomas Riggs started the Oahe Mission starting with a church/school that was built on the Missouri River across from Fort Sully. They then relocated to an area that was about five miles north of the current-day Oahe Dam. The mission served the Native Americans including later building the Oahe Industrial School where there was room for 50 girls to attend school. This area along the Missouri River became the best site to build the Oahe Reservoir and therefore the name was given.
Where Is Lake Oahe, South Dakota Located On A Map?
Lake Oake begins in central South Dakota, just north of Pierre, and extends nearly as far north as Bismarck, North Dakota. South Dakota is bordered by Wyoming and Montana to the west, North Dakota to the north, Minnesota and Iowa to the east, and Nebraska to the south.
What Happened To The Indian Reservations Along The Oahe Reservoir?
There were two large Indian Reservations along where the Oahe now stands. Both groups were forced to relocate when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation started building the reservoir and dams along the Missouri River. The Standing Rock Reservation and the Cheyenne River Reservation had to start all over, losing their land to the new reservoir project. The western shoreline of Lake Oahe is currently occupied by both reservations today. Some areas along the lake are private land while others host 51 recreational areas open to the public.
Is Lake Oahe A Recreational Lake?
Yes! There are many parks and recreation areas along the lake that people can visit to enjoy the great outdoors. Near Pierre, SD is the East Shore Recreation Area, West Shore, Tailrace, and Downstream Recreational Areas. The Oahe Lake is a recreational lake for boating, swimming, camping, and fishing. The fishing is excellent in the lake with northerns, walleye, and channel catfish. The lake is also stocked with Chinook salmon and reproduces at the Whitlock Bay Spawning Station, 18 miles west of Mobridge, SD.
Are There Any Fishing Records From Lake Oahe?
Yes! There are plenty of “big fish” in Lake Oahe with many records recently being broken in the past couple of years. There have been many bowfish and spearing records as well but for the traditional “hook and line” records from Oahe, here are the current records:
- Smallmouth Bass: 7 pounds 4 ounces, Troy Diede, July 16, 2021
- Atlantic Salmon: 6 pounds 11 ounces, Casey Buechler, July 14, 2020
- Burbot (cod-like fish): 12 pounds 7 ounces, Joshua Bible, March 11, 2019
- Chinook Salmon: 31 pounds 8 ounces, Darrick Koch, July 29, 2016
- Gizzard Shad: 4 pounds 12 ounces, Brad Dietz, January 14, 2006
How Does The Deepest Lake In South Dakota Compare To The Deepest Lake In The US?
The deepest lake in South Dakota is 205 feet deep while the deepest lake in the US is 1,943 feet. That makes it 1,738 feet deeper (give or take depending on lake levels). Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in the US. It is located in the Cascade Mountains in southcentral Oregon, about 100 miles east of the coast. The crazy thing about Crater Lake is that it is at the top of a collapsed volcano. Scientists believe that Mount Mazama was a volcano that erupted nearly 7,700 years ago causing a gaping hole at the surface of the volcano. At the time the native people were the Makalaks with the tradition of stories being passed on orally. The story of the day that Mazama erupted has been passed on to its ancestors the Klamath Indians.
How Deep Is Sylvan Lake In Custer State Park?
Many tourists and locals are familiar with Sylvan Lake and its rock formations as the backdrop of many a family vacation. Sylvan Lake is located in Custer State Park about five miles from Mount Rushmore. There is an amazing swimming beach as well as non-motorized boating for a peaceful day at the lake. Most of the lake is around 12 feet deep but the deepest spot on Sylvan Lake is 30 feet.
What Is The Wildlife Loop At Custer State Park?
If you are visiting Sylvan Lake make time to drive the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. While you might see some bald eagles or herons around the lake, the Wildlife Loop has frequent sightings of bison, elk, pronghorn, coyotes, and bighorn sheep. Remember to keep your distance from these wild animals but with your camera set on zoom, you should be able to capture some amazing pictures.
For another incredible experience mark your calendars for the fall for the annual Buffalo Roundup. Every year cowboys and cowgirls ride horseback to corral the 1,300 bison for sorting testing and branding. An arts and crafts fair is also a part of the event. You can bring your lawn chairs and sit back and watch from the viewing area as hundreds of bison stomp by. Want a bigger thrill? You can apply to ride in the round-up if you are experienced and can bring your own horse. Maybe plan for a few days at the lake after a two-day vigorous ride!
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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Where is the deepest lake in South Dakota?
The deepest lake in South Dakota is Lake Oahe. This man-made reservoir is the deepest lake and the biggest lake in South Dakota. It stretches from Bismark, ND down to Pierre, SD. The lake extends about 231 miles from end to end.
How does the deepest lake in South Dakota compare to the deepest lake in the US?
The deepest lake in South Dakota is 205 feet deep while the deepest lake in the US is 1,943 feet. That makes it 1,738 feet deeper (give or take depending on lake levels). Crater Lake in Oregon is the deepest lake in the US. It is located in the Cascade Mountains in southcentral Oregon, about 100 miles east of the coast.
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- National Parks Service, Available here: https://www.nps.gov/crla/planyourvisit/upload/History-508.pdf
- Black Hills Badlands, Available here: https://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/places/sylvan-lake
- South Dakota Game, Fish and Wildlife, Available here: https://gfp.sd.gov/buffalo-roundup
- South Dakota Game, Fish and Wildlife, Available here: https://gfp.sd.gov/parks/detail/oahe-downstream-recreation-area/
- ARCGIS, Available here: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/5ae93ccb872944eb880193522a2709dd