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Lake Thompson Recreation Area

Lake Thompson

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.

Home to Laura Ingalls Wilder

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.

Restrictions / Safety

DOT Road Report

Lake Thompson Recreation Area

21176 Flood Club Road
Lake Preston, SD 57249

GPS Coordinates

Lat: 44.323468
Long: -97.434631


Make a camping reservation



Lodging Info

Facilities / Services

  • 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


Fishing License Required

  • Walleye
  • Northern pike
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Bass

ADA / Accessible

  • Campsites (16E)
  • Camping Cabins (1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Lodge
  • Hiking Trail

Park Specs


Northeastern South Dakota: 6 miles southwest of Lake Preston off US Hwy 14 


Location Map
Campground map
Trail map and guide
Walking map

Area Attractions

Nearest Town

Lake Preston


Camping fees are subject to sales tax.

Park entrance license required year-round


Camping Cabins: