605 Outdoor Wonders: Pactola Lake
By Anna Stritecky
Some of South Dakota’s most beautiful destinations are the most simple spots that the state has to offer. Next on our journey throughout South Dakota is Pactola Lake, right outside of Hill City. Although Pactola is just a lake sitting in the Black Hills, it has one of the most gorgeous landscapes that I have ever laid eyes on in the 605.
Pactola Lake is one of the most unique lakes in the region, due to the strange history behind it. This lake was once just known as a township, Pactola. This township was one of the oldest settlements in Pennington County. After the discovery of gold in the creek beds, prospectors and miners began to flood to Pactola, soon making it a populous, thriving community. Due to its isolation, there was little law enforcement and the valley became the hiding place for many who did not wish their whereabouts known. After the miners began to create their own laws instead of obeying those of the country, the town eventually imploded on it’s own terms. After all the residents being cleared out, the large valley was then flooded and eventually turned into a recreation area for locals and tourists alike. Some say that to this day there are still houses settled to the bottom of Pactola Lake.
As I visited the lake, I took in the view while laying on the beach area. Since it is a flooded valley, the lake sinks beneath a view of trees and shrubbery that steal the show. There are also beaches around the area that allow for visitors to enjoy whatever it may be. Pactola Lake also has separate entrances for boats that are free to go around the river. This lake is filled is equipped for kayaking, paddle boating, hiking, and much more for anybody who loves the outdoors to enjoy.