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Slyvan lake questions

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Virginia
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57 posts
109 reviews
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Slyvan lake questions

Hi -- We are staying in Custer and plan to do the Needles hiway to Sylvan lake one day. We will have grandkids, 6 and 13 -- if they want to swim, does the lake have a changing area? A sandy beach? Also I read that we'd have to be there by 10AM to get a parking spot! probably not gonna happen with this gang. Are there other options for parking nearby if the lake lot is full.

Thanks for any info -- we will be there week after next, getting excited.

Chicago, Illinois
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1. Re: Slyvan lake questions

I do not know of an actual changing area other than the vault toilets which could be used to change into swim suits. The general store also has washrooms that could be used to change also. There is a sandy beach. Parking can be a hit or miss at Sylvan Lake. It is a very popular area and can get quite crowded. We have always been able to find a parking spot, however, and we have never been there by 10 a.m. At times we have had to park on the side of the road or in the store's parking lot when spots have not been available in the main lake lot.

Rapid City, South...
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2. Re: Slyvan lake questions

There is a rest room by the lake/trailhead parking lot. There is a small sandy beach and a grassy area.

Virginia
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57 posts
109 reviews
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3. Re: Slyvan lake questions

Thanks for the info about Slyvan lake -- we'll be sure to bring our bathing suits.

South Dakota
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4. Re: Slyvan lake questions

Wanted to add that, should you really, truly, not be able to find a parking spot (it sounds like you should be able to), Legion Lake is a nice place to swim. It's not as scenic as Sylvan, but it still has the huge rocks dipping down into the lake that make it pretty. You can change at Legion in the bathrooms in the lodge or in the bathroom located on the beach. There's also a playground on the beach. Like Sylvan, it will be chilly.

Marcellus, New York
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5. Re: Slyvan lake questions

The facilities near the lake don't include changing rooms, as others have noted. We just suited up the kids in the car (towel changing room) and wore our suits there instead. We didn't arrive early but we eventually found parking, although it took a few minutes. Someone eventually left and we swooped in. :).

We had lunch on a picnic table we shared with another family, and we all loved the walk along the lake. It is a bit rough in places, and you I'd suggest you might want decent shoes (Keen sandals were fine, flip flops probably not recommended) but climbing the rocks and looking over the lake was very memorable!

Cedarville, Ohio
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586 posts
86 reviews
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6. Re: Slyvan lake questions

I found Sylvan lake to be overcrowded and noisy. The beach is not that nice. We drove by Legion Lake later that day and wished we had gone there. If you want scenery and hiking go to Sylvan but I don't get it as a family beach. The parking lot is a zoo and the toilet facilities are primitive. It just isn't set up for the crowds of family beach goers that congregate there. I am surprised they encourage swimming there. There are really good waterparks in Rapid City...not sure why this beautiful location is turning into a beach destination.

Denver, CO
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389 posts
19 reviews
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7. Re: Slyvan lake questions

Remember also that this is snowmelt water. It's c-c-o-o-lllld! Quite swimmable (you get used to it fast), but something to think about.

Virginia
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57 posts
109 reviews
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8. Re: Slyvan lake questions

Just got back from our week long trip in the Black Hills. We ended up walking around Sylvan Lake but not swimming. We spent the whole day driving the Needles Hiway and hanging out around Sylvan Lake. The grandkids (and us) loved all the rocks and opportunity to climb around. We took our time walking around the lake and honestly I never saw the beach till we got over to the other side. Its not really visible from the snack bar/grocery area. I agree, not very big but lots of families were there. With all the beauty around Sylvan Lake, it lends itself more to walking rather than swimming.

Apple Valley...
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681 posts
52 reviews
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9. Re: Slyvan lake questions

Glad you enjoyed it! How did the rest of your visit go?

Virginia
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57 posts
109 reviews
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10. Re: Slyvan lake questions

The entire visit was great! I have posted a trip report under the South Dakota forum since we were in several cities.