Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park is one of those places that is so beautiful people have a hard time believing it's man-made. As a matter-of-fact, there are no natural lakes in the Black Hills, so any body of water is man-made.

The small lake is located in the northwestern chunk of the park that also contains the Needles rock formations and is connected to the rest of the park by the Needles Highway, SD Highway 87.

By far the most obvious spot to photograph Sylvan Lake from is the drive along the east edge of the lake. With spectacular rock formations forming a great backdrop and often times reflected in the water, you can't beat sunrise here.

As you can see, I love using trees that aren't being lit by the morning sun yet to frame the brightly-illuminated rocks.

As the sun rises higher and loses it's golden hue, the reflections really pop on a calm day.

If you saw the 2007 Disney film "National Treasure: Book of Secrets," this is the lake that Nicolas Cage and company discovered an ancient temple underneath. No, there is not really a secret temple under the lake, no it's not immediately behind Mount Rushmore as it appeared in the film, and I really doubt you will find eagles carved into the rock by pouring water on the rocks, but feel free to try.

As you can probably guess, Sylvan Lake is popular with hikers, boaters, bicyclists, campers and sightseers. Paddleboats and canoes are available for rent.

The road along the east side of the lake leads to a parking area for one of the more popular hiking trailheads to Harney Peak, highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the Swiss Alps.

A hiking trail also circles the lake, winding over and around the large rocks along the water.


Anonymous said...

I wish for your l33t ph0t0graph1c sk1llz.

Also, you are making me want to take a trip through SD someday.

But wait, isn't that your point? :-)

Anonymous said...

With these pictures makes me want to quit planting and head to the Hills. On the other hand maybe I had better get the planting done and then go. Might keep the boss happier this way.

Chad Coppess said...

Thanks for the comments! Yep, that's the idea - traveling to or around South Dakota and taking pictures!

Unknown said...

Does your photograph collection include any images of the original Sylvan Lake lodge?

Chad Coppess said...

Hi Lesa,
I think I can dig up an historic photo of the original lodge. I'll try to get that posted soon. And thanks for ordering a shirt!