Pactola Lake is the largest reservoir in the Black Hills of South Dakota and is created by the Pactola Dam. 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. 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.
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.