GFP looks at a new era for Sylvan Lake resort

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A Rapid City architecture and planning firm has presented its recommendations for upgrades at Sylvan Lake Resort complex in Custer State Park.

The work by Wyss Associates Inc. could eventually cover the rest of the park in southwestern South Dakota.

“The first chunk is Sylvan Lake,” state Parks and Recreation Division director Scott Simpson told the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission on Friday.

Pat Wyss said his recommendations for Sylvan Lake Lodge and the surrounding area combine ways to sustain and improve the natural systems while accommodating the current visitation.

Wyss said a “very transparent” process involved a working group, multiple levels of public input, open houses and discussions with the park’s managers.

One recommendation is placing an event deck next to the auditorium so that wedding parties and other groups wouldn’t need to congregate at the lake’s edge.

“Some people want no weddings at all there,” Wyss said about the resort in general.

A related issue he found was cramped parking and traffic congestion. He suggested re-configuring the store’s parking lot to add some stalls and placing curbing on the famous Needles Highway there.

Another recommendation is making a well-designed trail loop between the lodge and the lake, so that people can leave vehicles parked at one or the other.

He said a related step could be a shuttle seating eight to 12.

Wyss also recommending revisiting the rock-climbing management plan and putting new restrooms at the beach area.

He said there isn’t much information about the lake itself and suggested a survey of the lake bottom and detailed year-round water-quality monitoring.

In a nod to the future, there’s also a recommendation to install recharging stations for electric vehicles.

“That was an excellent report, excellent recommendations,” said Gary Jensen of Rapid City, the commission’s chairman.

“Good report, looks like some pretty incredible developments,” commissioner Mary Anne Boyd of Yankton said.

“I like it. Great idea,” commissioner Doug Sharp of Watertown said.

“I like to be thorough,” Wyss replied. 

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