Lake Jocassee

Crystal clear water, a mountainous shoreline, and abundant waterfalls. What isn’t to love?

Lake Jocassee in the Upstate of South Carolina

Lake Jocassee’s enchanted waters are tucked in the western corner of South Carolina. The lake is surrounded by mountains and home to numerous waterfalls, which easily makes it our favorite lake in the upstate. Jocassee’s remote location and limited parking also make it less crowded than other lakes in the area.

Jocassee is open to a variety of aquatic activities including kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, swimming, scuba diving, fishing, and power-boating.  Devil’s Fork State Park is located directly on the lake and provides access for the public. The state park has three boat ramps as well as a swimming area, camping, and nature trails. The majority of the shoreline is protected by Duke Energy and the state park service, and a small amount is owned by local residents.

Here are some of the best ways to spend a lake day at Jocassee:


  • Explore the waterfalls: The abundance of waterfalls range from two-hundred feet to small trickles to waterfalls you can paddle behind. Check out this  Google maps link for the locations.
  • Go scuba diving: Lake Jocassee is one of the top scuba diving destinations in the Southeast. Jocassee is a man-made lake with remains from the people who lived in the valley before the dam was created. It is like swimming through a time capsule. The lake’s clear waters have great visibility, around 15 to 50 feet.
  • Camp on an island: Devils Fork State Park includes an island that is available for overnight camping. It is roughly a two-mile paddle to the island and there is a two-night minimum. Campsites can be reserved on the state park website.
  • Explore Thompson Creek: Thompson Creek is one of our favorite destinations when paddling on Lake Jocassee. Rock-hopping up the creek brings you to beautiful cascades, swimming holes, and jumping points into the water. The paddle from the State Park is about 8-10 miles round trip, so plan on it being a full day trip.

There are plenty of other beautiful destinations in the area. Drive to Jumping-Off Rock for a spectacular view overlooking the entire Jocassee Gorges.  Hike up Table Rock Mountain and break a sweat before cooling off in Jocassee’s waters.

Quick Facts:

  • Cost: $5 per adult, $3 children (Cash Only)
  • Hours of Operation: Monday – Sunday 7 AM – 6 PM. In the summer it is open until 9 PM. 
  • Address: 161 Holcombe Circle, Salem SC, 29676
  • Trails:  3 miles of nature trails
  • Food or Beer Nearby: Aunt Sue’s is up Highway 11 and is a great stop for ice cream and snacks. If you’re feeling fancy, then check out Victoria Valley Vineyards.
  • Camping: The park has a mixture of camping options including island camping, tent camping, and RV camping
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