Lake Thompson Recreation Area

Quick Facts

Lake Thompson Recreation Area

South Dakota

(605) 847-4893

Map Directions

Things To Do


This lake has opportunities for fishing and water recreation, as well as camping facilities. It is mentioned in many of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, including "By the Shores of Silver Lake" and "The Long Winter". She called it Twin Lakes. Originally called Dry Woods Lake by American Indians, the lake was renamed for Jacob Thompson, Secretary of the Interior under President James Buchanan. In the 1930s, the lake was completely dry and used for pasture. In 1980s, the area was a 9,000-acre marsh. Heavy rains and snowmelt in the mid 1980s filled the lake to over 20 feet deep and it now covers 18,000 acres in Kingsbury County. The lake is so distinct that it was designated as a National Natural Landmark. In addition to campsites and camping cabins, there is a group rental lodge. The camping cabins have spectacular views of the lake. Visitors can catch a variety of fish species.

Map of Lake Thompson Rec. Area (SD)

Latitude, Longitude: 44.287978, -97.472763



  • Boating

    A boat ramp provides access to the lake.

  • Bicycling

    The Park Tour Trail is open to bicycling. It is a 1.25 miles trail that follows the shore of the lake and passes through the campgrounds.

  • Camping

    Lake Thompson offers 103 campsites, 97 of which are electrical. Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table. Four camping cabins offer breathtaking views of the lake. The accessible group rental lodge, a newly remodeled farmhouse, is perfect for large group reunions, family functions, or hunting trips. The five-bedroom facility includes a comfortable living room, dining room, kitchen with major appliances, two full bathrooms with showers and an outdoor deck with gas grill. Nearby electrical sites are available for those in the group that wish to camp.

  • Fishing

    With a fishing license, fishers can catch walleye, northern pike, crappie, perch, and bass. There is a fish cleaning station.

  • Hiking

    The Park Tour Trail is a 1.25 miles trail that follows the shore of the lake and passes through the campgrounds.

  • Picnicking

    There is a picnic shelter.

  • RVing

    RVs are welcome in the campground.

  • Water Sports

    There is a swimming beach without a lifeguard. There is also a beach for water skiers.


The park is open year-round, with most facilities geared towards summer use. The cabins provide a nice winter escape.



Located 6 miles SW of Lake Preston off US Hwy. 14

Phone Numbers


(605) 847-4893

Campground reservations

(800) 710-2267