110 votes

Sylvan Lake

Custer State Park, South Dakota USA

Free to Visit
Open Now
Fri 12a-11:59p
  • Pet Friendly
  • Public
  • Wifi
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“Perfect place to kick back and day dream”

Sylvan Lake, known as the "crown jewel" of Custer State Park, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Created in 1881 when Theodore Reder built a dam across Sunday Gulch, it offers picnic areas, rock climbing, small rental boats, swimming, and hiking trails. It is also popular as a starting point for excursions to Harney Peak and The Needles. A hotel was operated on the shore of the lake in the early 20th century.

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Reviewed by

  • 6 Reviews
  • 64 Helpful
May 23, 2014
Rated 5.0

Gorgeous. A must see if driving through Custer State Park.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by

  • 14 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
July 24, 2018
Rated 4.0

A very beautiful stop! We drove through here twice while in the area. Both times there was a wedding going on so it was extra crowded and we decided not stay. I would imagine it is a great place to spend the day.

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Reviewed by

  • 23 Reviews
  • 39 Helpful
January 30, 2018
Rated 5.0

Absolutely beautiful lake and area! Besides swimming, make sure to check out all the hiking trails, even if you just do the trail around the lake. And look for the rock that was used in National Treasure 2!

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Reviewed by

  • 26 Reviews
  • 6 Helpful
April 28, 2017
Rated 5.0

This lake is the best lake i have seen so far. Not so big, but it amazes me how this one was made into a very beautiful scenic lake. If I was going to get married. i would like my wedding pictures taken in this lake. Amazingly beautiful. This lake is a must-see.

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Reviewed by

  • 9 Reviews
  • 6 Helpful
June 27, 2016

Beautiful and fun stop to get out and refresh, let the kids explore and stretch legs etc. We walked around the lake (it's a one mile loop) and had fun exploring through the rocks etc. The kids loved swimming and had a great time. The boat rentals are a bit steep for the size of the lake. Definitely drive from there down through Needles highway. It has awesome views!

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Reviewed by
Joel Schat

  • Photographer
  • 237 Reviews
  • 478 Helpful
October 01, 2014
Rated 5.0

I was pleasantly surprised with this location! Not necessarily for photography reasons.. but just because it was so absolutely relaxing! Swimming is awesome and there is a ton of exploring and a few places to rent kayak's and such! Definitely worth a stop :)

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Sylvan Lake

Custer State Park
South Dakota


Open 24 hours today
  • Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm

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  • Parking
  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
Max Length
27 ft
  • Tent Sites
  • Showers
  • Rec Facilities
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