About Smith Mountain Lake

Smith Mountain Lake is Virginia's most popular recreational lake. With 4 distinct seasons, traffic a non-issue, low crime, and low taxes, Smith Mountain Lake is a great place to live. The lake community is friendly, welcoming, and full of transplants, so you'll likely never feel like an "outsider."

Smith Mountain Lake offers a wide variety of restaurants, shopping, medical facilities, fitness centers, vacation accommodations, recreational and social activities, golfing, fishing, camping, annual festivals, cultural activities in nearby towns, and of course, water sports of all kinds. There are many fun and interesting things to do year round. Most shopping is located within about 5 miles either side of Hales Ford Bridge, along Rt. 122. We have a YMCA, and two public libraries. Medical services include an urgent care facility, a medical evacuation helicopter stationed at the lake, physicians, dentists, veterinarians, chiropractors, and physical therapists. Five full service hospitals are available within 25-45 minutes, and 8 hospitals including a VA Medical Center are located within an hour's drive.

The lake was originally created in 1966 for the purpose of generating hydroelectric power during periods of peak energy demand. The dam at Smith Mountain Lake is operated by American Electric Power (AEP), under a license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

The map above shows some popular locations at the lake, and information people often ask about.

  • Smith Mountain Lake has two main counties; Franklin County and Bedford County. As you can see from the map, one side of the lake is Bedford, and the other is Franklin.
  • Two large, modern supermarkets serve the Smith Mountain Lake community; Kroger and Food Lion.
  • Westlake Corner is the lake's primary shopping area, with everything from restaurants, banks, fast food, drug stores, movie theaters, auto service, medical facilities, hair salons, UPS/Fedex/Post Office, and much more.
  • Did you see the movie "What About Bob?" Although the story-line has the plot taking place at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, the movie was actually filmed right here at Smith Mountain Lake. The location of the house from the movie is shown above (note: this is a private residence-please be respectful.).
  • The locations of our beautiful state park, and the Smith Mountain Dam are also shown.

Smith Mountain Lake Facts

Average temperatures at Smith Mountain Lake (degrees in Fahrenheit):
Summer: High 86 Low 63
Fall: High 70 Low 46
Winter: High 48 Low 27
Spring: High 69 Low 43

Total miles of shoreline: 500 miles
Average water depth: 55 feet
Maximum water depth: 250 feet
Total area: 20,600 acres
Elevation: 795 feet above sea level
Average snowfall: 10 inches per year
Permanent residents: About 22,000
Water level fluctuations:
Since the lake was built for generating hydroelectric power through the dam, water levels will often fluctuate by about 2 feet as the dam operates, and then pumps water back into the lake to run through the dam again (these fluctuations are far less than other lakes in the Eastern United States). Water fluctuations of 5 feet are more rare, but may happen once every 3-5 years on average. You can check the current water level of the lake at any time at:https://www.smithmountainlakelevel.com/

Smith Mountain Lake covers parts of three Virginia counties: Franklin County and Bedford County primarily, and a very small part of Pittsylvania County.

Driving times to Nearest Cities:

Roanoke, VA : 45 minutes
Lynchburg, VA : 1 hour
Richmond, VA : 3 hours
Washington, D.C. : 4 hours, 15 minutes
Virginia Beach, VA : 4 hours, 30 minutes
Greensboro, NC : 1 hour, 45 minutes
Raleigh/Durham, NC : 2 hours, 45 minutes
Charlotte, NC : 3 hours, 15 minutes
Charleston, WV : 3 hours, 30 minutes

Real estate at Smith Mountain Lake in the 1960's and 70's was comprised mostly of small lake cabins and other small homes used as summer getaways, typically built on lots with breathtaking views. From the 1980's and beyond, real estate here has transformed, and now includes many subdivisions with typical suburban homes, condo developments, multi-million dollar mansions, and everything in between. The Smith Mountain Lake community has recently grown into a favorite place for transplants to move to and live permanently. Virtually all homeowners here are from somewhere else originally. This makes for a very friendly community, as there are no "outsiders," and most people feel right at home here very quickly. The lake still remains a popular destination for vacationers as well. Click here to learn more about Smith Mountain homes for sale in this very happy, relaxed, and safe community.

Smith Mountain Lake in Movies and TV:

  • The most famous movie filmed at Smith Mountain Lake was the 1991 comedy "What About Bob?" starring Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, and Julie Hagerty. A charmingly neurotic patient (Bill Murray), follows his psychotherapist (Richard Dreyfuss) and his family to Lake Winnipesaukee, where they have gone for a summer vacation. It's a great movie to enjoy that's clean and family-friendly, and it's just hilarious. Although the story-line has the plot taking place at Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, the movie was actually filmed right here at Smith Mountain Lake. The location of the house from the movie is shown above (note: this is a private residence-please be respectful).
  • The independent film "Lake Effects" starring Jane Seymour is about Smith Mountain Lake, and was filmed here. It's the story of a family raised at the lake, and later in life returning home. The dramatic comedy first aired on the Hallmark Movie Channel in May 2012.
  • In an episode of the science fiction series "The Outer Limits" starring Mark Hamill (of Star Wars fame) Smith Mountain Lake appeared in a dream sequence. The episode "Mind Over Matter" aired in 1996.