State Parks

Photo © SD Tourism

Lake Thompson Recreation Area

/userdocs/Lake Thompson Recreation Area

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 the 1980s, the area was a 9,000-acre marsh. Heavy rains and snowmelt in the mid-80s filled the lake to over 20 feet deep. The lake is so distinct it was designated as a National Natural Landmark.

Laura Ingalls Wilder called the area around DeSmet her home. Lake Thompson itself is also mentioned as one of the Twin Lakes in her books, including By the Shores of Silver Lake and The Long Winter.

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  • Basketball
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseshoes
  • Swimming
  • Volleyball
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Upcoming Events

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  • Daily: $8 per vehicle
  • Annual: $36 first vehicle | $18 for second vehicle | $80 transferable license
  • Campsites - electrical: $26 per night
  • Campsites - non-electrical: $15 per night
  • Cabins: $55 per night
  • Lodge: $280
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Park Specs

Open: Year-round. Between Oct. 1 and April 30, showers, flush toilets and other water systems may be closed. Please contact the park directly for current status. Vault toilets usually remain open.

Park Size: 103 campsites and 5 cabins (4 sleeps 4 people, 1 sleeps 5 people)


6 miles southwest of Lake Preston off US Hwy 14

Nearest Town: Lake Preston

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Make Reservations

Make reservation online or call 1.800.710.2267.

Contact Info

Lake Thompson Recreation Area
21176 Flood Club Road
Lake Preston, SD 57249
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  • Beach
  • Boat Ramp
  • Campground
  • Camping cabins
  • Drinking water
  • Dump station
  • Electric campsites
  • Fish cleaning station
  • Fishing pole checkout
  • Flush toilets/showers
  • Game checkout
  • Lodge
  • Playground
  • Ski beach
  • Vault toilets
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Park Rating

Modern Lodging

The group lodge at Lake Thompson offers increased comforts in an outdoor setting any time of the year.
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ADA / Accessible

  • Camping Cabins
  • Camping Site
  • Hiking Trails
  • Lodge
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GPS Coordinates

Latitude: 44.32347
Longitude: -97.43463
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Additional Info

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