Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia, by reading Smith Mountain
Lake - Head for the Mountains by W. Lynn Seldon, Jr.,
Travel Writer. It features a mini, but thorough tour of the
destination, plus all you'll need to know to plan your trip
including getting there, objective information on places to
stay and eat, and things to do. At the end of the article,
we've provided a summary of the contact information for your
easy reference. Enjoy!
Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia - Head for the Mountains
by W. Lynn Seldon, Jr. Travel Writer
Pointe Near Smith Mountain Lake Dam
Photo courtesy of Ted Pratt
If you love boating,
fishing and/or the mountains, then you need to head for Virginia's Smith
Mountain Lake. Located in central southwest Virginia, 215 miles from
Washington, D.C., this popular destination provides the perfect reason
to head for the mountains.
Mountain Lake was formed back in the 1960s, when Appalachian Power
Company (now American Electric Power) built a dam on the Roanoke River.
Smith Mountain Dam is 816 feet long and 227 feet wide and the resulting
lake (which first reached its full depth in 1966) provides 22,000 acres
of recreational water and 500 miles of shoreline!
lake has grown to become a four-season residential and vacation
paradise, with the water, shoreline, services, amenities, and
surrounding towns and attractions providing a perfect place to visit
(and live). The climate around Smith Mountain Lake definitely has four
seasons, with boating most popular during crisp spring, hot summer, and
colorful fall days. "Each season combines the area's natural beauty with
recreational activities, events, and all the amenities of a resort,
residential, and business community," says Vicki Gardner, executive
director of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce/Partnership.
boaters, there are numerous marinas, boat docks, and public boat ramps
listed in the excellent Newcomer and Visitor Guide. Thus, there
are lots of places to get your boat - or one of many rental boats - on
the water! The Newcomer and Visitor Guide also lists 25 places
for boat rentals, repairs, and sales, as well as several non-marina
businesses that can provide services and repairs (like the interesting
Virginia Canvas Works).
Houseboat rentals are also extremely popular on Smith Mountain Lake,
with a variety of companies able to accommodate practically any
houseboat hankering. Two good possibilities include: Adventures on
Houseboats and Parrot Cove Boat Rentals and Sales.
the water, the possibilities are almost endless. Along with cruising the
stunning shoreline and enjoying the mountain vistas, boaters and their
passengers can enjoy fishing, water skiing, wakeboarding, and more.
Photo courtesy of Ted Pratt
fishing is particularly plentiful. Several record fish have been caught
in the lake, with popular catches including: striped bass, crappie,
flathead catfish, largemouth bass, musky, and smallmouth bass. Many
local fishing guides are available to help land the big ones.
Smith Mountain Lake Boating Association is an excellent resource for
visiting boaters. They organize the annual boat poker run in May.
There's also an Antique and Classic Boat Society chapter, with an annual
in-water show each August.
Mountain Lake accommodates visitors with a wide variety attractions,
activities, events, shopping, dining, and varied accommodations options
for those choosing to stay on land.
Land-based activities include: Smith Mountain Lake Park (1,000 acres
that include a beach, fishing pier, hiking, and more); Booker T.
Washington National Monument (Washington's birthplace and a glimpse into
the life of the famed orator and educator); the National D-Day Memorial
in nearby Bedford; and the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum (traditional
life and culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains). There are also several
local wineries, five gorgeous golf courses, and a 112-person sidewheeler
cruise boat that features food and boating fun.
are also a big part of the Smith Mountain Lake scene. Some popular
possibilities include: many fishing tournaments; the D-Day Celebration;
poker runs; several fireworks celebrations during the July 4th period; a
wine festival; and a Holidays boat parade.
Visitors who would like an insider's view of lake boating should contact
Capt. Bill at Smith Mountain Water Taxi. He can provide a tour of the
lake or shuttle small parties to dinner, tee times, lake nightlife, and
The Smith Mountain
Lake Chamber of Commerce/Partnership Visitors Center is located at 16430
Booker T. Washington Hwy. #2, Moneta, VA 24121. They can be reached by
phone at 800-676-8203 or 540-721-1203, as well as through
their great website, www.visitsmithmountainlake.com.
How to get
By car: Major highways and directions leading to the lake include:
and the Blue Ridge Parkway are just west of Smith Mountain
There are four
access roads to the lake from I - 81 and Roanoke:
- via US 220 South to Rocky Mount and Route 40W to Route
- via Route 116 to Route 122 North
- via Route 24 through Vinton to Route 122 South
- via US 460 East to Bedford and Route 122 South
From the Blue
Ridge Parkway, select the following routes:
- via Route 130
at Natural Bridge to Big Island and Route 122 South
- via Route 43 at Peaks of Otter to Bedford and Route 122
- via Route 24, Vinton
- via Rt. 460, Montvale
- via US Route 220 South to Rocky Mount and Route 40W to
Route 122 North
US 220 North and
US 29 North are the major highway routes for travelers
North Carolina and other destinations to the south.
From US 220
North, exit at Rocky Mount, VA on Route 40West to Route 122
North to the lake.
From US 29 North from Danville, exit at Gretna on Route 40
Interstate 64 runs east and west to the north of Smith
Mountain Lake. To reach the lake, exit south on to US 29
South at Charlottesville. US 29 South connects with US 460
West at Lynchburg or with Route 40 East at Gretna for easy
access to the lake.
From the east,
US 460 West is the major route connecting with Route 122
South at Bedford or to US 29 South at Lynchburg to 40 West
If you prefer to fly, the following airports will provide
you with service:
- Smith Mountain
Lake Airport: 540-297-4500 (private charter)
- Roanoke Regional
Airport: 540-362-1999 - http://www.roanokeairport.com/
Regional Airport: 540-582-1150
- New London
Airport: 434-525-2988 (private charter)
Where to stay
you want a full-service Inn, a motel, a cozy bed and
breakfast, rustic log cabin, quaint cottage, vacation home,
or resort, Smith Mountain Lake offers a wide variety of
accommodation choices. Find the solace of the woods or the
lake, enjoy the splendor of a classy resort, or don't miss
any action with a place near all the attractions and events.
Smith Mountain Lake has rooms to fit every budget.
forget to check rates and book your room using WTA's Travel Booking
Service. Deep hotel discounts may apply.
Where to eat
tastes run from gourmet to fast food, there is an eating
establishment for you.