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Kayak Sylvan Lake

Custer, South Dakota

4.0/5
based on 1 reviews

Details

Distance

2 miles

Route Type

Loop

Description

Added by Michael Wigle

Sylvan lake is one of the best places to cool off while visiting South Dakota's infamous Black Hills. The incredible rock formations that surround the reservoir offer countless viewpoints and an epic backdrop filled with outdoor activities.

There are a few reservoirs within the hot and dry Black Hills of South Dakota. The water here comes from the harsh winter month's snowpack or frequent afternoon thunderstorms. Sylvan Lake in the town of Custer offers many activities thanks to it's unique and rugged terrain. Hiking, biking, rock climbing, camping, kayaking, paddle board, swimming, and cliff-jumping can all be done in a single day.

Full disclosure, this lake fills up like crazy late afternoons and on weekends during the summer. Best time to visit is midweek just before noon when it's still plenty hot outside.

The town of Custer is about an hour drive from Rapid City just before the Crazy Horse Monument. Take Route 385 into Sunday Gulch for 30 miles and make a left onto Route 87 for 6 miles to the Sylvan Lake Lodge entrance. At the lodge you can rent a paddle board or kayak if you don't have your own.

From there head out onto the lake and enjoy the rocks. There are a few coves, some islands, some hard to reach cliffs that are only accessible by boat. Most of the large boulders drop vertically into deep water (always check before you jump) so diving is a great activity here.

When you finish at Sylvan Lake, the best place to refuel is the Silver Dollar Saloon about 12 minutes back up 385 in Hill City. This is about as authentic as biker bars get in the Black Hills and it typically lacks tourist crowds. Grab a prime rib hoagie and a cold beer to top you off before your next adventure.

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Features

Stand Up Paddle
Rock Climbing
Canoeing
Chillin
Fishing
Photography
Kayaking
Swimming
Hiking
Adult Beverages
Bathrooms
Beach
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Groups
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Cliff Jumping
Swimming Hole
ADA Accessible

Reviews

Great spot in Custer. While a popular spot, getting out on the lake to kayak or hiking around the lake are great ways to see different views. Also nearby hiking trails to Cathedral Spires should not be missed.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Nearby

Hike Sunday Gulch Loop

Hiking to Harney Peak

Camp at Sylvan Lake Campground

Hike to Poet's Table

Hike to Little Devil's Tower in the Black Hills

Drive Needles Highway in Custer State Park

Go Great Places in South Dakota

In the Mount Rushmore state, travels to South Dakota are full of one-of-a-kind adventure with wide-open spaces as endless as the horizons. Between legendary landscapes and scenic drives, you can always find space that shifts life into park. When you’re ready, go great places.

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