Pelican Lake Recreation Area

Quick Facts

Pelican Lake Recreation Area

South Dakota

(605) 882-5200

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Nestled among a grove of conifer trees, campers can enjoy the shade while still being close to the sandy beach, prairie trails, and the boat dock at Pelican Lake Recreation Area. Naturalists enjoy the migrating birds and vast numbers of prairie grasses and wildflowers. Winter enthusiasts appreciate the park's cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing, and ice fishing.

Pelican Lake offers a good number of campsites on the waterfront as well as two cabins with lake views. A comfort station is located in the primary campground and a playground is near the swimming beach. The park is also located in prime pheasant hunting area, making it a popular camping and use area each fall among sportsmen.

Map of Pelican Lake Rec. Area (SD)

Latitude, Longitude: 44.901722, -97.120902

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Activities

  • Boating

    A boat ramp provides access to Pelican Lake.

  • Bicycling

    There are two trails for bicyclers in the park: the Observation Tower Trail and the Pelican Prairie Trail. The .75-mile Observation Tower Trail winds through prairie, tree belts, and along wetlands. An observation tower is located along the trail at an inlet to Pelican Lake and is a nice stop to view the lake, shorebirds, and waterfowl.

    The Pelican Prairie Trail is 5.2 miles in length. It encompasses the east portion of the park and winds through gently rolling prairie and in and around tree belts. During certain times of the year, wildflowers such as the pasque flower can be observed from the trail. The trail offers scenic views of Lake Pelican and in different locations along the trail the skyline of the City of Watertown can be seen in the distance. The possibility for viewing birds and wildlife also exists along the route.

  • Camping

    Pelican Lake offers a good number of campsites on the waterfront as well as two cabins with lake views. A comfort station is located in the primary campground and a playground is near the swimming beach. In total, there are 76 campsites, two cabins (each sleeps four people) and six horse camp sites.

  • Fishing

    With a license, visitors can catch walleye, northern pike, perch, and bullheads in the lake. Visitors also enjoy ice-fishing on the lake.

  • Hiking

    There are two hiking trails in the park: the Observation Tower Trail and the Pelican Prairie Trail. The .75-mile Observation Tower Trail winds through prairie, tree belts, and along wetlands. An observation tower is located along the trail at an inlet to Pelican Lake and is a nice stop to view the lake, shorebirds, and waterfowl.

    The Pelican Prairie Trail is 5.2 miles in length. It encompasses the east portion of the park and winds through gently rolling prairie and in and around tree belts. During certain times of the year, wildflowers such as the pasque flower can be observed from the trail. The trail offers scenic views of Lake Pelican and in different locations along the trail the skyline of the City of Watertown can be seen in the distance. The possibility for viewing birds and wildlife also exists along the route.

  • Horseback Riding

    Horseback riders are welcome on the Pelican Prairie Trail. A trail camp area is located at the trailhead, providing parking, a non-electric camping area, and hitching posts and corrals for horseback riding enthusiasts. Located close to Highway 212, the Pelican multi-use trail is an excellent stopover for horseback riders traveling to and from the Black Hills.

  • Picnicking

    There is a picnic shelter on the shore of the lake.

  • Water Sports

    There is a swimming beach, but no lifeguard.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Pelican Lake is a popular stopping point for migrating waterfowl. Each fall, geese and ducks use the lake's open waters as a resting area. A variety of shore birds spend their entire summer in or near the park. The most noticeable of these birds are the large white pelicans that frequent the lake. Pelicans were so numerous when the region was first settled that the lake was named in their honor. An observation tower on one of the hiking trails gives visitors a bird's-eye view of the area.

  • Winter Sports

    Winter enthusiasts appreciate the park's cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. There is a designated cross-country ski trail, and skiers and snowshoers are also welcome to use the Observation Tower Trail. The 2.4 mile cross-country ski trail winds through trees and prairie and along the shoreline of Pelican Lake. A warming shelter and parking area are available near the trailhead and the trail is packed (groomed) when adequate snow conditions exist.

Seasonality/Weather

The park is open year-round. In the summer, visitors enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, and swimming. Visitors also enjoy winter sports, as well as wildlife viewing in the fall.

Directions

Driving

Located 9 miles SW of Watertown off US Hwy. 212.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(605) 882-5200

Links