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Pactola Lake, Silver City

Pactola Lake is the largest reservoir in the Black Hills of South Dakota, United States; it was created by the construction of the Pactola Dam. It was started on 25 November 1952. Contrary to popular belief there is no town at the bottom of Pactola Lake. The Bureau of Reclamation clear cut and cleaned the lake bottom before it filled. The few buildings still there by the time the dam was finished on August 15, 1956 were moved or auctioned off. The only structure under the water is the old Civilian Conservation Corp camp dynamite bunker.

The lake is located on Rapid Creek in Pennington County, South Dakota. The lake provides the water supply for the Rapid City Metro Area. It is owned and operated by the US Bureau of Reclamation, with the various recreational facilities operated by the US Forest Service, and is one of the recreational areas of Black Hills National Forest. Boating and fishing are very popular, with a walk-in fly fishing area located on Rapid Creek below the dam.

Facilities include a marina, improved swimming beach, campgrounds and group campground on the south shore, campgrounds and a handicapped fishing path on the north shore, and various picnic and overlook areas. In the summer, the USFS operates a visitor center on the dam, immediately off US Highway 385. The dam across Rapid Creek is very large, and was enlarged following the Black Hills Flood of 1972; lake water levels vary enormously, as the lake is used for flood control, domestic water, streamflow maintenance, and irrigation.

Pactola Lake is accessible via US Highway 385 north from Hill City, South Dakota and Sheridan Lake Forks or south from Lead and Deadwood; or via the Rimrock Highway (also known as SD Highway 44), from Rapid City, South Dakota. Fees are charged in summertime for all facilities. Boating (both power and sail), fishing, swimming, and other outdoor activities are popular in the summer; in wintertime, ice-fishing, ice-skating, and some cross-country skiing is popular.

The small town of Silver City is located at the upstream end of the lake; downstream on Rimrock Highway and Rapid Creek are the communities of Johnson Siding, Hisega, Upper Hisega, Placerville, and Big Bend.
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Pactola Lake Reviews

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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
43 reviews
  • We passed this lake on our way from Keystone to Spearfish. We stopped on our way back because it was so pretty. The view of the lake from the visitor center is stunning.  more »
  • We hiked and sat and just enjoyed the view.Such a lovely setting and the flag in the Island was a great touch to such a beautiful lake!!  more »
  • First family outing at Pactola. Rented pontoon with tube for the day. Staff was amazing! Pizza was DELICIOUS! Just a GREAT experience, see you next year!
  • Just stopped to sight see and use the facilities on our way to Mt Rushmore. Nice picturesque lake surrounded by the Blackhills. Would like to boat and fish here...maybe next trip.

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