Chief White Crane Recreation Area

Quick Facts

Chief White Crane Recreation Area

South Dakota

(605) 668-2985

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Located on the shores of Lake Yankton, Chief White Crane is in close proximity to the Missouri River and Gavins Point Dam. Visitors enjoy fishing, boating, hiking along the lake shore, and swimming. The park was named for Chief White Crane, who met with Lewis and Clark in this area in 1804. The park has an abundance of large, mature cottonwood trees that provide excellent shade for the campground and attract roosting bald eagles during the winter. With its 146 campsites and ten camping cabins, Chief White Crane is a great place for groups to gather to spend the weekend. Visitors can catch bass, northern pike, walleye, and panfish in the lake. The roosting bald eagles are a popular feature of the park. Many bald eagles spend their winters below dams on the Missouri River dams where they are able to catch fish and prey on waterfowl attracted to the open water. The birds usually feed in the morning and rest in their roosting trees in the afternoon. Bald eagles will abandon their roosts if disturbed by humans. For this reason, the Department of Game, Fish and Parks prohibits motorized traffic in state recreation areas with winter bald eagle roosts. Walkers and cross-country skiers are allowed in these areas but must refrain from disturbing roosting bald eagles.

Map of Chief White Crane Rec. Area (SD)

Latitude, Longitude: 42.856970, -97.456450

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Activities

  • Boating

    There are two boat ramps for launching, as well as canoe and kayak rentals. Lake Yankton offers a calm setting for boating. There is a swimming beach but there is no lifeguard on duty.

  • Bicycling

    The area is linked to the nearby Lewis and Clark Recreation area with a bike path.

  • Camping

    There is one campground with 146 campsites, which is open from May-September. There are also ten cabins, each of which can accommodate four people. The cabins are open from April-October. The campsites have access to flush toilets and showers, drinking water, a dump station, and vault toilets. There are waterfront and electrical sites available.

  • Fishing

    The are two boat ramps for launching. There are also fish-cleaning stations and an accessible fishing dock. The area is home to bass, northern pike, walleye, and panfish. A fishing license is required.

  • Hiking

    There is a trail along the water that provides visitors with excellent opportunities for watching for bald eagles.

  • Picnicking

    There is a picnic shelter with a table and there is also a playground.

  • RVing

    The campground is open to RVs and has a dump station.

  • Water Sports

    There is a public swimming beach near the park. The beach does not have a lifeguard.

  • Wildlife Watching

    In South Dakota, many bald eagles spend their winters below the Missouri River dams where they are able to catch fish and prey on waterfowl attracted to the open water. They typically perch within 50 feet of the riverbank in tall cottonwood trees. The birds usually feed in the morning and rest in their roosting trees in the afternoon. Bald eagles will abandon their roosts if disturbed by humans. For this reason, the Department of Game, Fish and Parks prohibits motorized traffic in state recreation areas with winter bald eagle roosts. Walkers and cross-country skiers are allowed in these areas but must refrain from disturbing roosting bald eagles.

Seasonality/Weather

The park is open year-round, but vehicle traffic is prohibited November 1 through March 31 due to bald eagle nesting.

Directions

Driving

Located 5 miles W of Yankton off SD Hwy 52.

Flying

The closest airports are in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (59 miles away) and Sioux City, Iowa, which is 61 miles away from Yankton.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(605) 668-2985

Campground reservations

(800) 710-2267

Links