Richmond Lake, South Dakota, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Midwest - South Dakota - Glacial Lakes & Prairies Region -

Also known as:  Richmond Reservoir

Richmond Lake turned 75 years old in 2012. Built near Aberdeen during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression of the 1930s, Richmond Lake was one of 657 lakes built in South Dakota by the WPA. The government effort provided paid work to the unemployed while meeting the need for better water storage for local agricultural use. During one of the hottest summers ever recorded in South Dakota, the workers constructed an earthen dam across Foote Creek to capture the flow of Foote and a couple of unnamed tributaries on a 1000-acre parcel set aside for that use. The resulting lake was full by the spring of 1937 and covered about 840 acres with precious water.

The drought was soon over, but Richmond Lake remains as one of the biggest recreational attractions in the area. WPA efforts also planted thousands of trees along the reservoir’s shoreline and built a youth camp that is still in use by area youth groups. Other areas were designated as recreational land; a three-unit state park now offers a full complement of recreational activities to visitors.

No lake would be complete without a swimming beach. Richmond Lake has that, along with fishing docks, campground, camping cabins, boat launch, playground and picnic area. There is even a fishing pole check-out for those new to angling to be used at the fishing dock. Two boat launch ramps are located at the east park section near the dam. All types of boating are enjoyed at Richmond lake, including water sports such as water skiing, tubing and jet skiing. Sailing, sail-boarding, canoeing and kayaking are also popular. Some areas along the two arms of the forked reservoir are marked as no-wake areas and in times of high water, the entire reservoir may be designated a no-wake area to protect the shoreline.

Walleye are regularly planted in the lake; northern pike, largemouth bass, perch, crappie, bluegill, catfish and bullheads are also regularly caught. Fish habitat in the way of artificial reefs were added in 2000 to increase the numbers of largemouth bass and panfish. Ice fishing is generally quite productive, making Richmond Lake a year-round attraction. A South Dakota fishing license is needed, and creel limits are enforced.

A third area of the state park on the northern shore of Richmond Lake caters to nature lovers and those who enjoy the out-of-doors. Among the 18,000 trees planted here so long ago by the WPA, miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails are marked. A disk golf course encourages locals to try out this relatively new sport. This natural area, called the Forest Drive Unit, offers a year-round warming shelter, cross-country skiing and snowmobile trails.

The lake and parks are under the supervision of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department which is always looking for ways to improve facilities when funds become available. They are assisted by a group of local property owners called the Richmond Lake Association; the association holds clean-up days, monitors water conditions, encourages healthy lake management practices, and sponsors events such as fishing tournaments, boat parades and holiday activities. About 200 lakefront homes along the shoreline and another 25 or so seasonal cottages enjoy the lake in all seasons.

Surprisingly, not too many people outside of the immediate area have discovered Richmond Lake. Most visitors come from Aberdeen, about five miles away, or around Brown County. A few lucky visitors from other areas have discovered the sole resort property on the lake and book rooms at the lovely inn. Others arrange for wedding receptions and family events at the resort restaurant. Accommodations for family reunions and events can also be arranged at the Youth Camp on weeks when there are no campers scheduled. A few bed-and-breakfasts and private rentals round out lodgings near the lake. Aberdeen of course offers several hotels and small motels.

Visitors to northeastern South Dakota will find that Aberdeen has a number of interesting attraction worth a visit. City-owned Wylie Park contains an amusement park geared to young children called Storybook Land. Visitors enjoy riding the miniature train around the park and visiting native animals at the Wylie Park Zoo. The park also includes Lake Minne-Eho, which permits fishing only by those 16 and under, the Land of Oz (the author of the famous book, L. Frank Baum lived in Aberdeen for a time), the Wizards Balloon Ride, Land of Oz carousel, a go-kart track, miniature golf, a full campground, and many other attractions.

The Aberdeen Aquatic Center has swimming pools and a water and splash park. The Aberdeen Area Arts Council coordinates a full schedule of artistic endeavors. Theater performances at the historic 1927 Capitol Theater are produced by the Aberdeen Community Theater group. And Northern State University’s three gallery locations in the city allow appreciative patrons to purchase original artwork.

The Dacotah Prairie Museum encourages visitors to explore the geology and natural history of the prairie, enjoy the Hatterscheidt Wildlife Gallery featuring over 40 species of animals mounted and displayed in a full-scale mural, and explore the world’s largest collection of independent telephone and telegraph materials in the United States. Visitors will see an ever-changing display of short-time exhibits featuring a variety of subjects. Tours can even be arranged in Aberdeen for groups of ten or more to visit local Hutterite communities to explore the industrious culture of this self-sustaining religious sect. And Aberdeen offers all types of shopping, eating establishments, and evening entertainment to round out the day after an afternoon on Richmond Lake.

Real estate can sometimes be found available on Richmond Lake, both with lake frontage and with lake views. Few rentals are available at the lake itself, but there are cabins for rent at the campground and all types of lodgings nearby. Richmond Lake would love to have you come and celebrate its continued recreational opportunities. Bring the kids, check out a fishing rod at the fishing dock, and cast your lot with the many who are just now discovering all Richmond Lake has to offer.

Things to do at Richmond Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Jet Skiing
  • Water Skiing
  • Tubing
  • Golf
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • Museum
  • Playground
  • Amusement Park
  • Miniature Golf
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Richmond Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

Richmond Lake Photo Gallery

Richmond Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks

Surface Area: 840 acres

Shoreline Length: 20 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,361 feet

Average Depth: 9 feet

Maximum Depth: 24 feet

Water Volume: 12,435 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1937

Drainage Area: 103,000 sq. miles

Trophic State: Hypereutrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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