'Be ready for a wilderness experience': five spots for paddling South Dakota's waters

“We’ve got folks more than ever coming in,” said Ken Kopetsky, resident kayaking junkie at Kopetsky’s Ace Hardware in Yankton. “We started really seeing an uptick beginning last summer.”

Even South Dakota state officials told the public they’ve seen more interest in hunting, fishing permits — as well as use of state waterways.

“Visitation has been on the rise,” Kevin Robling, secretary of Game, Fish, and Parks told a commission in April. “COVID-19 actually got people outdoors. it was a great boom, a great opportunity.”

From coming face-to-face with the granite wall on man-made Legion Lake in Custer State Park or navigating under a canopy of near-horizontal Cottonwoods along the Big Sioux, South Dakota’s waterways afford out-of-the-mainstream views and experiences of the state’s natural bounty.

So Forum News Service connected with avid paddlers, public officials, and even dunked a boat or two in the waters from the Wyoming to Iowa border to find four spots you can access to keep cool during these coming hot months.

Deerfield Lake

When GFP considered removing a “no-wake” restriction on the remote reservoir (there are no natural lakes in the Black Hills),

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