If You Love Being Out On The Water, This Southern US State Park Is A Must-Visit

When seasonal temperatures rise, it's hard to imagine anything more refreshing than time well spent at a scenic and exciting lake. If you're longing to pack your bags and find a place to savor time on the water alongside family and friends, setting your sights on Smith Mountain Lake State Park is always a good choice. Located in Huddleston, Virginia, this Southern U.S. state park is open from 8 a.m. until dusk every day, making it an easy addition to your itinerary when you're looking to make the very most of on-the-water fun.

Here, visitors have easy access to Smith Mountain Lake and all the recreation opportunities it provides as Virginia's second-largest freshwater lake. In total, there are upward of 20,000 acres of lakeside terrain for guests to explore, as well as 500 miles of shorelines to discover. The park encompasses the Northern shore, and according to Lake Homes Realty, Smith Mountain Lake welcomes more than 17,0000 visitors annually.

A top activity for outdoor adventurers to enjoy during a visit to Smith Mountain Lake State Park year-round is freshwater fishing. Anglers of all skill levels will find something to look forward to when they get out on waters surrounded by the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. Whether you cast a line from the fishing pier or bring your own boat, there's a good chance you'll reel in everything from catfish and bluegills to bass and stripers too.

Spend time swimming and sailing at Smith Mountain Lake

There are two public beaches with swimming areas in place that guests can enjoy at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. The beaches are open between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and there are often lifeguards on duty, making them family-friendly state park destinations. The snack bars on-site are an added convenience to guests who work up an appetite in the water.

When you're looking to pick up the pace of your on-the-water-fun at Smith Mountain Lake, renting a boat and exploring is always a fun option. The lake is a popular place among those who prefer to travel by houseboat, sailboat, pontoon boat, and beyond. A top destination for renting what you need to get out on the waves in style is Bridgewater Plaza Marina. Easily accessed near the Halesford Bridge, Bridgewater Plaza hosts a dockside store, a 24-hour service dock, and four locations for boat rentals for visitors to choose from. Tritoons, deck boats, and even wave runners are readily available at their rental locations upon request.

If you're looking to learn a new skill during your park visit, the Smith Mountain Lake Sailing School can help you master the basics. The courses here have been offered at the lake since 2006 and cover everything from sailing essentials for beginners to racing maneuvers for more experienced sailors. The Smith Mountain Lake Sailing School also has half-day charters available to book that can accommodate up to four passengers.

Kayak, canoe, and camp your way to lake fun

Another fantastic way to spend a day on the water at Smith Mountain Lake is on a kayak or paddleboard. Visitors are welcome to bring their gear, but Smith Mountain Paddle Company has rental options available, too. Here, you can easily reserve a floating mat or a paddleboard if you plan to spend time putting your balance to the test. Single and tandem kayaks are also available to rent for beginners and experts alike.

Lake visitors hoping to pair their water adventures with wildlife watching will want to keep an eye on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation's event calendar in the summertime. They typically host ranger-led canoe tours for groups across the lake with a focus on spotting wildlife over two hours. These tours are designed to accommodate guests six and up, but participants should register to ensure a spot is available.

If you're hoping to turn your single day of on-the-water fun into a multi-day experience, there are options to book a tent camping site or cabin at Smith Mountain Lake State Park. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, waterside cabins can be rented for the week, while a tent camping adventure is possible from the first Friday in March through the first Monday in December. Campsites have in-ground grills and picnic tables, but for water enthusiasts, the highlight will be that the lake's boat launch can be used free of charge by overnight guests.