Special Places to Visit Within the Madison Wetland Management District
1. Coteau Prairie WPA - prairie grasses, wildflowers, wetlands and wildlife abound here. Drive 19 miles east of Watertown on Highway 212. Area is on north side of highway.
2. Sioux Prairie – Owned and operated by The Nature Conservancy, this prairie provides and island of critical upland and wetland habitat in a sea of agriculture. The rolling grassland landscape harbors several seasonal ponds, which provide vital habitat for the diverse plants and animals living here, including more than 200 prairie wildflowers, numerous grassland birds and waterfowl. Drive 1 mile east of Colman on Hwy. 34, then north 3.5 miles on Hwy. 77.
3. Memorial Art Center - Contains an outstanding collection of paintings by world-renowned artist Harvey Dunn depicting pioneer life on the South Dakota prairies. Located on campus at South Dakota State University in Brookings.
4. Paul Errington Memorial Marsh - Public wetlands area dedicated to the memory of Paul Errington, outstanding biologist and writer whose boyhood days were spent in this area. Drive 10 miles west of Brookings on Highway 14 and then 10 miles north on county road.
5. Dry Lake WPA – This, the largest WPA in the district at almost 1500 acres, includes natural lakes and restored native prairie. Drive 3 miles east of Hwy 81 on Hwy. 14, then north 1.5 miles on 457th Ave.
6. Lake Thompson – South Dakota’s largest natural body of water, Lake Thompson is a dramatic example of the effect of wetland drainage on people downstream. Overflow from drained wetlands in the watershed after heavy rains in the early 1980's filled Lake Thompson. After being nearly dry ever since settlement 100 years ago, the lake rose to depths of 24 feet deep, flooding 8,000 acre of adjacent privately owned land.
7. Silver Lake - Referred to in Laura Ingalls Wilder's book “By the Shores of Silver Lake”. Today, the lake is actually a marsh located immediately east of DeSmet of the north side of Highway 14. The Ingalls' home (museum) is open for visitors in DeSmet.
8. Cox WPA – One of the larger tracts of native prairie in the District, this WPA sports a historic wagon trail visible especially after a prescribed burn. Drive 12 miles south of Watertown on Hwy. 81.
9. Madison/Payne WPA, WMD Headquarters - Located 3/4 mile south of the Highway 34 on Highway 19. Visitors welcome Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm. Activities include a visitor center, auto tour, and bike trail extending from Madison.
10. Big Sioux River Dells – The Big Sioux River cuts 40 feet through solid rose quartzite revealing a breathtaking canyon just south of Dell Rapids, SD off Hwy. 115.
Madison Wetland Management District Map