Kayak Sylvan Lake

    Rate this Adventure 2 miles  - Loop Trail

    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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    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
    Handicap Accessible
    Lake
    Picnic Area
    River
    Scenic
    Cliff Jumping
    Swimming Hole

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    Leave No Trace

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

    We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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