your paddlesports destination

Lake Yankton in South Dakota

Trip Overview

This is a small flat water lake that is great for kayaking or canoing for recreation. Fishing from kayaks and canoes is excellent. From tip to tip this lake is only about 1.84 miles long, and is surrounded by three campgrounds (Chief White Crane, Cottonwood, and Pierson Ranch), also has a disc golf course for those interested.

There is a large lake (Lewis and Clark) to the west (100 yds away), and the Missouri river to the south (30yds away). Both very paddlable. I've not been on the lake ONE TIME that I have not seen wildlife in abundance.

Since this lake is on the NE/SD border, I've added some words from Nebraska's state park site:

Cottonwood Lake [Otherwise known as Lake Yankton] is located adjacent to Gavins Point Dam. The lake has 250 acres of water and is divided by the Nebraska/South Dakota Border. The Lake was created as a diversion channel of the Missouri River when Gavins Point Dam (Lewis and Clark Lake) was being constructed. The lake allows boating, but with electric motors only.

The Nebraska State Game and Parks Commission lists the lake as stocked with Bluegill, Channel Catfish, Crappie, Largemouth Bass, and Walleye. Anglers please note, there is a 15 inch size limit on Largemouth Bass in Lake Yankton. The lake is good fishing, and often is neglected due to the presence of Lewis and Clarke Lake and the Missouri River very close by.

Cottonwood Lake has facilities for primitive camping, picnicking, and parking. There are however a great deal of additional facilities near Lewis and Clark Lake."



No Fee's to use the lake.
There are fees to get into Pierson Ranch and Chief White Crane campgrounds if you are camping.


Leave Yankton, SD to the west on Highway 52 (West 8th Street) and go about 3.5 miles to a Gas Station/Tackle shop called Captain Norms, turn South and follow the road. You can launch anywhere on the lake you like, but there are two boat docs, one on the far west side and one on the southeast side of the lake.


Used Google earth! Lake at 42d51'19.11"N 97d28'06.67"W

Chief White Crane Recreation Area website

  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water
  • Group Rates: No

Locations on this Trip