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PRIME FEEDING TIMES
Pactola Lake is the largest reservoir in the Black Hills of South Dakota. At the bottom of Pactola Lake is the submerged town of Pactola, an old mining camp and site of several military bivouacs during the original settlement of the Black Hills in the mid-1870s.
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 U S 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, 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.