Places to visitWhat's New?

Sylvan Lake: 10 Most Amazing Things to do

Sylvan lake is the most popular Custer state park lake, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, United States. This deep bowl-shaped lake has refreshing clear water with a prominent weed line along the edges. The lake was created in 1891 as a result of the dam’s construction on Sunday Gulch creek by Theodore Reder.

Sylvan lake is situated on Highway 87 along Needles Highway near the southwest side of Black Elk Peak in Dutchess County. It is situated at 6,145 feet’s elevation. This beautiful lake has mesmerizing scenery with a great variety of amenities and offers different types of activities. So you can relax and enjoy here.

The famous Nicolas Cage movie “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” is also filmed at this lake. You will need a Custer state park pass to visit Sylvan lake.

10 most amazing things to do at Sylvan lake

1. Relaxing and sunbathing

Sylvan lake beach is a sandy beach with panoramic views along the shore of a 120-acre crystal-clear lake. You can lie down, relax, and sunbathe at the shore of the lake. The lake has benches and chairs for your comfort. Picnic tables are also there, you can bring your food if you want or have it from the restaurant while enjoying the amazing surrounding.

2. Swimming

You can enjoy swimming in the clear water of Sylvan lake beach but this is open for campers of Sylvan lake beach park only. Outsiders are not allowed. There is a designated swimming lake area at the lake. This place is considered the most beautiful swimming area by some. Be careful since lifeguards are not present here.

3. Fishing

Sylvan lake is an amazing place for fishing. Use your fishing skills here but should have a South Dakota fishing license. Different species of fish like trout, walleye, largemouth bass, carp, catfish, and panfish are present in this lake. Lake’s cold deep water is suitable for trout habitat while the shallow weed bed is suitable for pan fish and largemouth bass.

4. Boating

Photo by Vonpics on Pixabay

Boating is also another good option to do at Sylvan lake beach. Boat ramps in canoes, sailboats, kayaks, rowboats, and electric trollers are available here for you. Gas engines are restricted. You can rent paddle boats or kayaks.

5. Camping

Experience quality camping at the Dutchess county campground at Sylvan lake beach. This campground is at a prime location near Poughkeepsie with a variety of amenities and activities. Hudson valley is also easy to access from this place. Altogether you have a great camping destination where you can enjoy or relax in the lap of nature. Amenities like bathrooms, showers, drinking water, and electricity are there.

6. Recreational activities

Sylvan lake beach park is the main center for joyful, relaxing fun games and recreational activities. There is a playground area for the campus. You can play basketball, volleyball, horseshoe pits, football, baseball, and softball here. You can bring your equipment.

7. Hiking and sightseeing

Hike to the Black Elk Peak (America’s highest point, east of the Rockies) and The Needles from Sylvan lake. Appreciate the beauty and the panoramic views from the peak. Several fine hiking trails go upward to the peak from the bottom of the lake. Harney Peak trail is the challenging and risky one, while the Sunday Gulch trail is a much easier one.

8. Picnicking and staying at the Sylvan lake lodge

lodge at the lake
Photo by Richard Low Hong on Pexels

Sylvan lake lodge is located within a forest of pine and spruce trees at the sides of the hills, beautifully intertwining with the enchanting rugged landscape. This amazing spot atop the sloping hills and beside the lake was advised by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

This stone and timber lodge was built in 1937, and some new wings were added in 1991. Among these 31 cabins are there on the mountain’s side covered with pine and spruce trees. You will have a great dining experience at the lodge. Fresh, locally sourced ingredients elevate the taste of the dish with the beautiful surrounding.

The Lodge has indoor banquet space, a private patio, and lodge meeting rooms for small gatherings. Stay in the lodge or just spent a day picnicking here.

9. Hosting of weddings or other events

Soothing views of Sylvan lake with lush Black Hill forest and tall granite spires altogether serve as a captivating ambiance and stunning backdrop for wedding receptions and other events.

Beautiful decorations on the lakeside lawn make the place look like an exotic location. Enjoy the event with your family and friends at the lake.

10. Visit Sylvan lake shore trail

Sylvan lakeshore trail is the other best place to go if you are visiting Sylvan lake. Sylvan lakeshore trail is a 1-mile hiking trail around the lake forming a complete loop and offering breathtaking scenery and mesmerizing views from any vantage point.

It is an easy, popular hiking trail in the Custer state park, it’s most part is flat but a small area has steps and rocks. It will take 45 minutes to an hour to complete the loop. After climbing over the granite rock formations, you can spot some whitetail deer around the lake.

Some other activities and attractions-

Some other things to do in the nearby area of Sylvan lake beach area are-

Do visit the golf course and if you are a player, enjoy playing on the beautiful golf courses. You can also do rock climbing on the granite rocks present around the sylvan lakeshore trail. Visit Hudson valley trail too.

Visit the Sylvan lake general store which has a convenience store, gift shops, and eateries in it. You can do shopping here. Visit the flea market area and U-pick farms and understand organic farming. Get some information and knowledge about the lake and its related history at the visitor center. Have a visit to churches of all denominations.

Conclusion –

Sylvan lake park is popularly known as the “Crown jewel” of the Custer State park. A famous worth visiting place and a favorite spot for photographers or artists. Plan your next visit to this lake and have a great time. Explore other places like Saskatchewan in North Dakota.


  • Saba

    Saba is a wanderer from heart. She likes to explore new places, region, cultures, and cuisines too. Loves travelling and cooking, works in a company. She shares some of her experience.


Saba is a wanderer from heart. She likes to explore new places, region, cultures, and cuisines too. Loves travelling and cooking, works in a company. She shares some of her experience.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Back to top button