- Lake Andes is a natural, shallow prairie lake whose water supply depends entirely on natural runoff. The lake has a length in excess of ten miles and a width of over one and one-half miles when full. Lake levels periodically rise and fall, with the entire lake going dry about once every twenty years.
This was a lake the Sioux Indians knew well, for they frequently made camp here during their pursuit of migrating herds of buffalo and flocks of waterfowl. Around the turn of the century, as white settlements were becoming firmly established, the lake became well-known as a fine place to fish. Several resorts were built near the shoreline to accommodate visitors who arrived near the lake by train.
Nesting waterfowl species include wood duck, blue-winged teal, mallard, gadwall, and northern pintail. Other summer residents include white pelicans, western grebes, and Forster's and black terns. During migration, thousands of Canada geese and mallards can be observed with lesser numbers of canvasbacks, redheads, bufflehead, and ruddy ducks.
Two dikes separate Lake Andes into three separate units, but the lack of a permanent water supply allows very little manipulation of water levels to encourage growth of aquatic foods or assure duck broods of adequate water in drier years. Only the Owens Bay marsh and three adjacent man-made ponds, fed primarily by the waters from a free-flowing well, permit effective manipulation of water levels to maximize the area for the benefit of wildlife.