Without a doubt, the lakes in Virginia are phenomenal. This state is located between the Appalachian Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, this site is renowned for its picturesque and beautiful landscapes. In the same way, this site plays an important role in American history.
Every year, Virginia attracts millions of tourists who come to visit the beaches, mountains, and wineries. And, of course, the lakes in Virginia cannot be left behind. If you are planning a trip to this amazing place, you cannot miss visiting at least some of these lakes. In fact, these are spread over different states. But, through this post, we will tell you about the 15 best and most prominent lakes.
- 1 Lakes in Virginia: Smith Mountain Lake
- 2 Lakes in Virginia: Lake Anna
- 3 Lakes in Virginia: Kerr Lake
- 4 Lake Gaston
- 5 Lakes in Virginia: Mountain Lake
- 6 Lakes in Virginia: Claytor Lake
- 7 Lakes in Virginia: South Holston Lake
- 8 Lakes in Virginia: Drummond Lake
- 9 Lakes in Virginia: Lake Leesville
- 10 Lakes in Virginia: Chesdin Lake
Lakes in Virginia: Smith Mountain Lake
Smith Mountain Lake was created in 1963 thanks to the seizure of the Roanoke River. This lake is located in a valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Without a doubt, the surrounding landscape will leave you in awe. And, for this reason, it is one of the most popular destinations among tourists. In addition, this lake is the largest you can find in Virginia. The coast is about 800 kilometers long. Over time, this site has been developed with commercial and residential buildings.
Smith Mountain Lake vacations
Something to keep in mind is that the rental rates here vary according to the season. Also, according to the amenities included and the size of the place. But, most are considered bargains compared to elsewhere in the US.
High Season (June-August): During these dates, vacation rentals are around $ 700 and $ 4000 per week. Here, the amenities and size of the site are the main cost factor. Also, if you prefer you can rent around the site. Or, in houseboats which is also a good option. When it comes to peak seasons, you need to register in advance and rent the place for a week.
Mid-season rates (4-6 weeks before and after summer): Here, what is going to stand out the most is the fewest number of visitors. And, a warmer and more pleasant climate. Also, lower rates and discounts for different options.
Low season (mid-October to mid-April): In low seasons you can find discounts of up to 50% on renting a place. Specifically in the monthly, weekly, and daily options. You will also find a mild climate and few visitors.
What to do at Smith Mountain Lake?
Among the activities that stand out in this lake are boating, canoeing, and parasailing. But, there are also activities like jet skiing, wakeboarding, water skiing, fishing, and more. In addition, the lakeshore has seven free boat launch sites. And, likewise, there is also a payment option for a dozen marinas.
On the other hand, outside of the water, there are also activities that you will enjoy. For example, the five golf courses that are located around the lake. SML State Park has different trails for long walks. In addition, there are areas where you can have picnics, relax, camp and more. Of course, restaurants could not be left behind. These offer different dishes such as gourmet cuisine, buffets, pizza, sandwiches, and more.
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Lakes in Virginia: Lake Anna
Lake Anna is one of the largest freshwater lakes located in Virginia. This was built by the North Anna River Dam. Currently, this lake is accessible from Charlottesville, Richmond, and Washington DC. It has around 53,000 hectares that are divided into a public and a private side. In fact, the public side is larger and has several sports venues. This place is busiest during the summer months.
This park has a fully accessible fishing pond for disabled people and children. Also, here you can find camping cabins and most have a lake view. The park has more than 15 miles of trails and here it is possible, horseback riding, biking, walking, and more. On the other hand, the exhibits show a bit of the history of gold mining. Gold and nature panning programs are quite popular. In fact, this park offers guided tours of the Goodwin Gold Mine.
Something you should keep in mind is that, if you come to the place by vehicle, the parking areas fill up quickly. Especially during the summer on weekends and holidays. What’s more, when this happens the staff closes the path to the park to traffic. In order to first vacate some places before entering more vehicles.
On the other hand, fishermen can access the ramps from 5:30 am. The site has the necessary lighting to aid early and late activities.
Lakes in Virginia: Kerr Lake
Lake Kerr is located along the Roanoke River and has 20,000 hectares. Also, this was built by the construction of the John H. Kerr Dam. The lake is named after Congressman Jon H. Kerr. In fact, the is quite popular with residents of North Carolina and Virginia. However, this site is also renowned for fishing for largemouth bass and striped bass. The lake is currently owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers.
From the beginning, the Corps of Engineers promised that this lake would be a recreational attraction. And, without a doubt, this has been the case mainly during the summer months. On these dates, there are quite a few swimmers, sailors, and tourists in general. In addition, there are camping spots, picnic areas, trails, and boat ramps on this site. On the other hand, the Corps of Engineers administers four camps. And at the same time, it leases land to the states of Virginia and North Carolina.
According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fish, the lake has the best largemouth bass fisheries. In fact, all surveys indicate high growth and reproduction rates. Also, largemouth bass in the 2-4 liter range is typical. But, trophy bass over eight pounds is rare.
Lake Gaston is located along the Virginia-North Carolina border. This site has around 8,100 hectares and a beautiful coastline of 560 kilometers. Nearby, it is possible to find a large number of small towns where there are more than 150,000 residents. Also, tourists and residents prefer this lake for boating, water skiing, and wakeboarding. It is even a place with a relaxed atmosphere, excellent landscapes, and perfect for fishing.
Lake Gaston facts
In this lake, the water is regulated and only varies to a depth of one foot from the normal level. Therefore, it is ideal for sailing and fishing.
Additionally, the lake is located between Richmond, VA, and Raleigh in Warren County. And at the same time, it is within easy reach of other counties. For example, Northampton, Halifax, Brunswick, and Mecklenburg.
Here, it is possible to find a wide variety of gamefish. For example, sunfish, rockfish, striped bass, and varieties of catfish.
Also, throughout the year community activities are carried out thanks to different organizations in the area.
Around the lake, it is possible to find different restaurants, cultural and local events for shopping.
Lakes in Virginia: Mountain Lake
Mountain Lake is located in the city of Newport. Specifically at about 1180 meters above sea level. In fact, this lake is one of only two natural lakes around Virginia. The landscapes around this lake are fantastic and this makes it a perfect place for a vacation. Also, some people may recognize it as the setting from the 1987 movie Dirty Dancing.
Mountain Lake Hotel
Salt Pond was frequented since the early part of the 19th century. But then in 1856 Hanley Chapman incorporated the Mountain Lake Co. in order to provide lodging and entertainment for all its visitors. Later, a sawmill and a wooden hotel were built. And, the main customers back then were Virginia, Union, and Christiansburg.
Apart from the hotel, near the resort is the Mountain Lake Biological Station. It is a teaching and research station of the Department of Biology at the University of Virginia. The station remains active throughout the year. And, it currently houses researchers at an international and national level. Additionally, programs include summer field courses and student internships. Also outreach activities and scientific meetings.
Lakes in Virginia: Claytor Lake
Claytor Lake is located along the New River on the slopes of the mountains. This site is surrounded by a magnificent shale rock that adds phenomenal beauty. In addition, here you can practice different activities such as diving, wakeboarding, rowing, and boating. On the other hand, shelters and cabins have climate-controlled, porches, fireplaces, and more. In addition, there they provide you with towels, bedding and more. The only thing you have to bring is food and items for your personal needs.
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Explore the park
Fishing is plentiful at Claytor Lake. Therefore, this site is suitable for teaching a friend or family member how to fish from shore. All you need is a Virginia freshwater fishing license. And, this you can easily buy in the park. Also, we recommend you make a stop at MK’s Gourmet Pizzeria and Shoppe. Here you can find sandwiches, salads, pizzas and more.
Also, you can have picnics or enjoy a delicious meal on the terrace. The only thing to keep in mind is that you must collect any food and garbage. In order to avoid any unwanted furry guests. And last but not least, at night you can light a fire and roast marshmallows.
Water and the west
If you want to enter the world of navigation, but you don’t have a boat, don’t worry. Claytor Lake Watersports offers a 2- to 8-hour boat rental. In fact, you can choose between boats, jet skis, kayaks, and canoes. Then each boater will be provided with a temporary operator license and a small orientation.
Lakes in Virginia: South Holston Lake
South Holston is a lake shared between Tennessee and Virginia. It has 3,100 hectares and 60% of the coast is surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest. In fact, this site is an excellent choice for crappie, walleye, bluegill, and black bass. We recommend you visit this place on July 4 to enjoy the fireworks display.
South Holston Lake is a site full of intriguing islands, vast stretches, and forests. This lake offers surfers a wide world to explore. Also, the lake has an excellent scenic landscape. Therefore, it is the perfect opportunity to meet and appreciate wildlife. Rowers can see ducks floating on the surface of the water. Also green herons and bald eagles flying around. On the other hand, the lake is home to a large number of wildlife. For example, rats, turtles, and snakes.
Without a doubt, swimming in a pristine mountain lake is comforting. In fact, Jacob’s Creek Recreation Area is the ideal place for sun worshipers. This site spans the peninsula in the Cherokee National Forest. A recreation area where families can spend a day of recreation and fun. On the other hand, it is also possible to turn the trip into a night excursion. Because there are 27 campsites available for the recreation area.
South Holston Lake is one of the main attractions in the area for fishermen. This tank is full of fish such as smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, white bass, among others. Also, other conspicuous species are the feather back, the common carp, and the channel catfish.
Visiting anglers can purchase gear at the Virginia Creeper Fly Shop. And, also obtain information from the inhabitants of the area. Something important is that for this activity you must get a fishing license. This usually costs $21 a year and is an annual license.
Lakes in Virginia: Drummond Lake
Drummond is a freshwater lake located in the center of the Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia. In fact, this is one of the most natural found in this state. The other is about Mountain Lake. On the other hand, the lake is a bit deep, around six feet. However, it spans over 3,000 acres. This makes it one of the ideal destinations for outdoor activities. For example, kayaking, fishing, water fun, and more.
About the story
It goes without saying that each lake has a story behind it. In the case of Drummond Lake, the history goes back 4,000 years of an underground peat burning. In fact, this material is what contributes the dark brown hue to the lake. However, even though the color of the lake is dark, it is as cool as it looks. On the other hand, this lake is the main water supply for Dismal Swamp Canal. A waterway that connects North Carolina with Virginia.
Fun for all
When we talk about Lake Drummond, kayaking and paragliding are one of the best ways to enjoy it. It is even possible to go with family or friends to sail around the beautiful lake. But, access by boat is a bit limited. We recommend you access through the Dismal Swamp channel or the feeding ditch.
On the other hand, from this site, it is possible to observe different types of birds. In fact, during the winter there are migratory birds such as snow geese or tundra swans. And, during the summer, you should watch out for great egrets and blue herons. Even though the lake is deep in a swamp, don’t worry about the alligators.
Also, don’t forget to fish because this lake is home to different species of fish. For example, the catfish, the aviator, and the yellow perch. However, the PH levels of the lake are low. For this reason, the number of fish is limited at times.
A long visit
If you are one of those people who does not have enough with one day, you can spend the night in a rustic campsite. This is located near the lake and is a bit difficult to access. However, the isolation and privacy are reasons enough to enjoy the trip. The journey to the campsite is through the canal. In addition, at the camp, you will find grills, tables, fire pits, and screened sheds. The only thing you have to bring is firewood and drinking water.
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Lakes in Virginia: Lake Leesville
This lake is a small part of Smith Mountain Lake. Located in a valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains at 190 meters high. In addition, this lake has a coastline of 180 kilometers. And, here you can find family farms, cabins, and some lakefront houses. In fact, this lake is a very popular area for residents and visitors.
Recreation and development
Beginning in the 1960s, the surroundings of Lake Leesville have remained remote and rural. Specifically with agricultural activities and family farms. The main residential developments were family farms. Then in 2004 residential growth began to expand. Therefore, there began to be houses and communities near the lake. However, boat traffic on the lake continues in low magnitude. Compared to Lake Gaston, Kerr Lake, and Smith Mountain Lake.
Today Lake Leesville is a very popular recreational area. Also fishing specifically for striped bass. Also, jet skis, wakeboarding, and water skiing are some of the most common activities. Access to the lake is via US Route 29. However, Route 43 and 40 provide access to the north and south sides.
Lakes in Virginia: Chesdin Lake
Chesdin Lake stretches across three counts to southern Virginia. In addition, it provides water to the city of Petersburg and the rest of the area. Here, there is also an abundance of largemouth bass and other fish such as channel catfish.
Enjoy your time at Chesdin Lake
If your destination is Lake Chesdin or you are in the surroundings, here you will find exciting activities. Here are some of the most outstanding ones:
Swimming: If swimming is one of your favorite activities, in this lake you can do it without any problem. For example, you can access it through some surrounding parks. Also off the boat or if you have a house here.
Boating: Needless to say, Lake Chesdin is very big. In fact, it covers about 3,000 acres. And, this means that there is ample space to navigate with peace of mind. If you have a property, you can keep your boat right there on the lake. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry. In the vicinity are three different boat landings. For example, the Lake Chesdin Campground on Church Rd. O, also VDGIF Public Boat Landing in Sutherland.
Fishing: In this lake, you can also find several fishing opportunities that you cannot miss. This lake is even known for fishing for bass and channel catfish. You can fish from the boat, from the private pier, or from the public fishing pier 24 hours a day.
Water sports: If you like water sports, this place is ideal for you. Here you can rent kayaks, canoes, jet skis, paddleboards, and more. Even if you have a house on the lake it will be easier to take out your toys and have fun in the water.
Golf on Lake Chesdin
Most people take advantage of the Lake Chesdin Golf Club. It offers golfers an astonishing view with over 18 holes. In fact, this course is of high quality and has different amenities. For example, a 1800 square foot clubhouse and restaurant. Also, there are PGA-certified professionals who will give you personal lessons.
If you are interested in learning a little about this area, we recommend visiting the Pamplin Historical Park. This is located less than 20 miles away. It is a historic Civil War battlefield spanning 424 acres. In fact, it doesn’t just showcase a Civil War battlefield. At the same time there is a National Historic Landmark, museums, and pre-war houses.
Best of all, you can tour the battlefield alone or with a guide. If you decide to go it alone, you can tour the museum and hike the Breakthrough Trail. This tour can take you around 45 minutes of walking. Also, there are events that take place every month. Therefore, it is a great way to learn about American history.
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