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Boating, Swimming, Kayaking and Diving

South Dakota a destination for water sports? It’s true — the Pierre–Fort Pierre area has abundant opportunities for swimming, sailing, jetskiing and other water-bound activities.

Water sports center around the area’s two major lakes, Oahe and Sharpe. With more than 2,200 miles of shoreline along its 231-mile length, Lake Oahe has plenty of room for waterskiing, windsurfing, sailing, jetskiing and other outdoor water sports. The Farm Island Recreation Area, located on the river four miles east of Pierre, offers all of these activities, with waterskiing a particular favorite.

Sailboats, motorboats, canoes, jet skis, kayaks, paddleboats: Vessels of all kinds are welcome on the waters of the Pierre area.

Paddleboats and canoes are available for rent at the Farm Island Recreation Area; local vendors also rent out the craft, plus kayaks, paddles, and life jackets.

Larger craft — at least 18 feet, with 50 horsepower outboard motors — are recommended on Lake Oahe because of the lake’s size and the possibility of high winds.

Boaters should observe all signs and posted warnings on Pierre area lakes. Due to fluctuating water levels, submerged objects pose some hazard. Play it safe, and proceed with caution at all times.

More than three dozen boat ramps dot the shores of Lake Oahe and Lake Sharpe; access to Lake Oahe sites depends on the reservoir’s water levels. Clink on the area map link for the locations of area boat ramps. For updated information on possible ramp closings, visit http://gfp.sd.gov/fishing-boating/boating/default.aspx

The cool, clean waters of our lakes and ponds are open to swimmers during warm weather. Along the Missouri River, Lake Oahe and Lake Sharpe, inviting sandy beaches are zoned for swimming. With no lifeguard on duty, swim at your own risk, observe all signs and posted warnings, and be alert to abrupt drop-offs and changes in lake bottom characteristics.

Swimmers enjoy the public pools in Fort Pierre and at Griffin Park, located along the river, in Pierre. Pierre Aquatic Center’s indoor pool makes swimming a year-round sport. The Aquatic Center features a water slide, diving board, spray toys and an eight-lane, 25-yard pool. Locker rooms and showers are available in the complex, which includes the Pierre YMCA, a fully outfitted gym with racquetball courts, an indoor track, weights, and treadmills and other exercise equipment.

The Pierre area has many opportunities to hit the river in a kayak. Whether you're interested in a sunset tour with the Capitol in the background on the beautiful Missouri River, or a six-day trip on a river without a motor boat in sight on a remote river, Pierre is the place to come. Don't worry about cooking, packing and pitching a tent--you worry about relaxing. But you may need to paddle a little!

Interested more in what is under water? Sign up to become a certified diver. Scuba certification dives are done on Lake Oahe and in the Oahe tail waters, providing students with the best possible dive experience. Lake Oahe is over 250 miles long, giving students plenty of room to explore.

Call (605) 773-7445 or visit click here for hours, fees and other information about the Pierre Aquatic Center.

Learn more about water sports in South Dakota state parks by visiting http://gfp.sd.gov/.

For maps or information about the Missouri River, contact
• Missouri National Recreational River, (402) 667-2550 or www.nps.gov/mnrr
• Missouri River Information Center, 1-866-285-3219 (toll-free)