We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Beautiful lake”
Review of Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake
Book In Advance
More Info
and up
Custer State Park Safari Jeep Small-Group Tour
Ranked #5 of 38 things to do in Custer
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Popular lake in Custer State Park.
2 reviews
“Beautiful lake”
Reviewed June 5, 2013

After driving through Custer State Park, we took the Needles Highway and stopped at the lake. There are hiking trails, fishing, a gorgeous lodge all on-site. Would absolutely recommend a stop here!

Visited May 2013
Thank Jason F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

1,345 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Korean first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Loveland, Colorado
Level 6 Contributor
318 reviews
110 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 715 helpful votes
“Sylvan Lake is not to be missed if you are near Custer, S.D.”
Reviewed June 2, 2013

It took two tries, but we finally got a good look at this natural and man made marvel. We were doing the usual touristy things in the Black Hills, but Sylvan Lake is a breathtaking site not to be missed if you are in the area.

A huge rock formation and a little help from man has provided one of the most scenic lakes I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. The relatively small man-made dam is barely distinguishable among the gigantic rocks and the combination of blue water and skies is breathtaking.

This lake is at about 7200 feet, so when we visited the first day it was cold, rainy and very windy, and this was around June 1. Fortunately we returned the next day and were rewarded with blue skies and lighter winds.

Be sure to take the trail around the lake. It is not that difficult and there is only one spot where you have to climb among the rocks, but it is manageable. Don't miss the portion of the rock formation that is man-made, you cannot tell unless you get very close to the base. On the other side, fishermen were pulling in gorgeous looking trout, so the lake is functional. There is also a restaurant on the south side.

Directions are to go through Custer to Highway 89 and then north to the lake. Please be advised that as of June 1, 2013 there is heavy construction with long delays on that highway. An alternate route is to go east off of 16/385 just south of the Mt. Rushmore turnoff. This road is also under construction and very steep and winding, but the payoff is certainly worth it. Once in the area, there is a restroom right by the parking lot.

NOTE: If you visit Custer State Park (the southern part), this area is also located in the Park, so keep your windshield tag because it is good for 7 days. Otherwise you will have to pay.

Visited June 2013
3 Thank Goatesians
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cozad, Nebraska
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 1, 2013

Stopped here on my bike ride to hill city. This is one beautiful lake. Took some great photos and walked some steep trails. Will return here to do some fishing .

Visited May 2013
1 Thank Michael H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Decatur, Illinois
Level 6 Contributor
299 reviews
147 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
“great place for a stroll”
Reviewed June 1, 2013

This is a small lake that you can walk around. The walk is very easy and very pretty. This is on the Needles scenic byway. A great place for a break and stretch your legs.

Visited May 2013
Thank carlinda6665
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 6 Contributor
197 reviews
114 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
“Very scenic”
Reviewed June 1, 2013

Sylvan Lake is but one small piece of the greater area and though it is very scenic and definately worth visiting, there is so much more to see in the area. When we visited the area was being prepared for a wedding with rows of white folding chairs by the edge of the lake on a perfect sunny day. Lucky couple!

Visited September 2012
1 Thank Paul M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Been to Sylvan Lake? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing