The Horsethief Lake Campground has 36 camp sites. A limited number of accessible sites are available. The is the closest campground to Mount Rushmore National Memorial, and is a very popular lakeside campground.
The Cook Lake Recreation Area has 32 camp sites and 33 picnic sites. The lake is stocked with trout, catfish, and sunfish, and there is a wheelchair accessible pier. There is carry-down access to the lake for small watercraft. Approximately four miles of hiking and bicycling trails are available at the recreation area.
The State of Wyoming allows open fires only if they are contained and not left unattended. Be sure that your fire is completely extinguished before leaving. Check with the local Forest Service Office for fire restrictions.
A hike to Warren Peak Lookout Tower makes a scenic day trip for visitors to the Cook Lake Recreation Area.
The Cook Lake Trail is an easy 1.5 mile loop trail with some stairs and a stepping-stone crossing of Beaver Creek. The trail circles the lake, and there are many opportunities to see various types of ducks and geese along with osprey, blue heron, and bald eagles. In the water along the shore, very large fish called white amur are often seen. These hybrid fish are distant relatives of carp and were introduced into the lake about 15 years ago to help control aquatic vegetation. Difficulty Rating: Easy.
The Cliff Swallow Trail is a 3.7 mile loop trail. Cliff swallows nest in the limestone bluffs above Beaver Creek. Look for gourd-shaped mud nests in the rock out-croppings below the ridge. Other wildlife commonly seen along the trail include white-tailed deer, elk, and turkey. Along Beaver Creek, watch for blue herons, beaver, and water dippers. High above, turkey vultures are often seen riding the thermal drafts. Difficulty Rating: Moderate.
These trails are maintained for hiking and bicycling. They are not designed or maintained for horse use. No motorized travel is allowed.
Pactola Reservoir is located 15 miles west of Rapid City. It is the largest and deepest reservoir in the Black Hills, boasting 14 miles of shoreline and 150 foot depths on 800 acres. The Bureau of Reclamation manages the dam and water. Record lake trout are caught each year. Large brown trout are caught in Rapid Creek above and below the reservoir. Facilities include a full service marina with seasonal, monthly and daily slips, gasoline, oil, groceries, food service, shower and laundry. Forest facilities include an 88 unit campground, a group campground, swim beach, picnic areas, two boat launches, a paved accessible trail, day use trails and portions of both the Centennial and Deerfield trails. Fly fishing below the spillway is exceptional. A National Forest visitor center on the south side of the dam is open seasonally and provides visitors with information about the building of the dam and forest management.elevation 4700