If you find yourself driving along Highway 385 between Hill City and Deadwood, there will come a time when you’ll round a curve, the pines lining the road will drop away, and an impossibly large body of water will seem to appear out of nowhere.
What you’ll be driving on is in fact Pactola Dam, which hems in Pactola Lake, the largest reservoir in the Black Hills. This man-made lake (there are no naturally occurring lakes in the Black Hills) covers the old mining town of Pactola, which was submerged in the mid-1870s. During years of extreme drought, some of the town’s building will occasionally pierce the surface.
But these are not drought years. No, these are the wet years, and as such, it’s the perfect time to take advantage of all Pactola has to offer.
If you’ve brought your own boat, you can fish or tube or water ski or just putter along in your pontoon. If you didn’t bring your boat, no worries; Pactola Pines Marina will get you all set up for a couple hours or a full day of water fun.
If you’re looking for a place to stay and plan far enough in advance, Pactola Pines also offers a super fancy cabin for rent. But if an RV or a tent is more your style, the lake also offers several camping sites for you to choose from.
And if you find yourself short of supplies, Pactola Pines Marina has a handy convenience store that’ll fulfill all your boating and camping needs.
Just make sure to tell Nancy and David Fisher, the couple who run the marina, that you need to reserve some cinnamon rolls, as they go pretty fast come breakfast time.