Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Guided tours
Backcountry camping
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

Sylvan Lake is located in the northern part of Custer State Park and the summer destination for those seeking cool waters for kayaking, swimming, and fishing. While the area may be somewhat congested, it is a must-see along any adventure. The park is very family friendly, and those driving in should be cognizant of pedestrians meandering through the area because the road to the parking lots travels directly adjacent to the lake itself.

The lake has one small developed beach for those wishing to take a swim; a dock creates access for canoes and kayaks; and a trail completely circumnavigates the lake. The trail offers a glimpse into the Black Hills area. It begins in the area occupied by tourists and visitors, then it transitions into the rocky towers reaching up through the trees, and it eventually leads to a brief bouldering opportunity on the backside of the lake. At the rear of the lake the trail takes on a rocky nature and may be difficult for some to climb, but the remainder of the trail is easily accessible. The Sunday Gulch Trail, which is rated as a moderate to difficult trail, has its trailhead hidden back in the trees at the back end of the lake. The trail then wraps back around on a fairly flat surface along the treeline. At its conclusion, the beginning of the trail peers back toward the lake and the beautiful rock formations, and this has set the scene for many picturesque weddings. 

Other ameneties occupying the site include the parking lots, Sylvan Lake Lodge, Sylvan Lake Resort and General Store.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

Park entrance fee

Open Year-round



Scenic lake nestled in the Black Hills.


Popular attraction that draws large crowds.


Vault toilet
Bird watching
Near lake or river
Potable water
Covered picnic areas
Family friendly


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Custer State Park, South Dakota


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