(Last Updated On: )

the edge of the water at Oakwood Lakes State Park during autumn

Oakwood Lakes State Park lies nestled within the woodlands and grasslands surrounded by 8 ancient glacial lakes only 40 miles south of Watertown. This serene area has been a popular gathering place for hundreds of years, from the Native Americans to the early homesteaders.

Today this picturesque Eastern South Dakota state park offers guests opportunities for swimming, paddling, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, fishing, camping, bird watching, and picnicking.


Oakwood Lakes State Park is an ideal place to escape to for a few hours or a few days. Here you will discover water activities, scenic picnic areas, camping areas, a playground, horseshoes, basketball and volleyball courts, and a Disc Golf course. And the park provides gaming items that you may check out during your visit. These include golf discs, lawn games, horseshoes, basketballs, soccer balls, and volleyballs.

Visitors to the park during the winter may also enjoy cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Equipment for both of these activities is available for rent inside the park.

Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to Oakwood Lakes State Park:

Boating at Oakwood Lakes State Park

Kayak, canoe, or paddle board while enjoying the lakes during your visit to Oakwood Lakes State Park. Bring your own boat or rent a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard inside the park. A boat launch is conveniently located between the two camping loops for easy access to both Johnson and Tetonkaha lakes.

Swimming at Oakwood Lakes State Park

Oakwood Lakes State Park is perhaps most enjoyed during the summer, at least for guests looking to escape the heat.

The park features a nice beach area along Johnson Lake where guests may enjoy swimming or floating. There are no lifeguards here, so guests should swim at their own risk.

Nearby picnic areas offer a comfortable spot to rest and relax and enjoy the views after.

Hiking at Oakwood Lakes State Park

Oakwood Lakes State Park’s trails follow along the lakes shorelines, through the picturesque woodlands, and across wildflower meadows and mixed grass prairie. These multi-use trails offer guests a closer look at nature, wildlife, and historical sites that lie within the park.

Here are a couple of the trails at Oakwood Lakes State Park:

  • Mortimer’s Shoreline Trail – Moderate 0.25 mile trail that winds along the shoreline and out to the historic Mortimer cabin.
  • The Oakwood Lakes Prairie Trail – This moderate 2.6 mile trail passes through the woodlands and meadows along the lake’s shore. Ancient burial mounds may be seen along this trail.
  • Tetonkaha Trail – This moderate 0.75 mile trail features interpretive stations with information about the area’s history, flora, and fauna.

Biking at Oakwood Lakes State Park

Don’t forget to bring your bicycle with you when you visit Oakwood Lakes State Park. Guests with bicycles may access the Oakwood Lakes Prairie Trail and Mortimer’s Shoreline Trail for an enjoyable ride through the hilly woodlands and along the grassy sections inside the park. You may also ride on the park’s roadways.

Horseback Riding at Oakwood Lakes State Park

Oakwood Lakes State Park features an equestrian camping area and provides access for horses on their 2.6-mile Oakwood Lakes Prairie Trail.

Fishing at Oakwood Lakes State Park

With so much water surrounding Oakwood Lakes State Park it’s no surprise that fishing has been popular in this area for hundreds of years (and even longer!). Today you may catch Northern pike, bluehead, perch, and walleye from your boat, fishing pier, or along the lake’s shore. The accessible fishing pier is located on Lake Tetonkaha and some of the hiking trails allow for convenient access along the lake’s shoreline.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a fishing pole, you can check one out inside the park. Just make sure you remember to pick up a South Dakota fishing license ahead of time.

Birding at Oakwood Lakes State Park

Take a quiet walk through the woods and along the lakes inside Oakwood Lakes State Park. You’ll be awed by the variety of birds that may be observed here. Depending upon when you visit you may see White Pelicans, Eastern Bluebirds, Red-tailed Hawks, Prairie Falcons, Bald Eagles, Sedge Wrens, Snow Geese, Green Herons, Great Egrets, American Woodcocks, Black-billed Cuckoos, American Bitterns, Northern Cardinals, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers.

Nature and Wildlife at Oakwood Lakes State Park

Oakwood Lakes State Park lies nestled within the woodlands and open meadows near eight glacially created lakes. This picturesque area is home to many species of wildlife including birds, squirrels, deer, rabbits, prairie dogs, raccoons, antelope, foxes, otters, beavers, turtles, snakes, and lizards.


Pets are allowed at Oakwood Lakes State Park as long as they are supervised and leashed. Pets are not permitted inside park buildings or in the beach area.


Oakwood Lakes State Park features 145 campsites, 6 camping cabins, and 6 horse campsites nestled within the woodlands near the lake. All campsites and cabins are available year round and each site has a picnic table and fire ring.

Restrooms (flush and vault toilets), showers, and drinking water are located within the campground.

The rustic camping cabins have one large room with bunk beds, electricity, heat, and air conditioning. Each cabin sleeps up to 4 guests. The Horse Camp is located near the equestrian trails. All campsites in this area are primitive.

During the off-season (between Oct 1 and April 30) water is turned off inside the park. Vault toilets are still accessible during that time.

Park Location

Oakwood Lakes State Park
20247 S Oakwood Shoreline Dr
Bruce, SD 57220
Phone: 605.627.5441

Park Website



Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Oakwood Lakes State Park: