Best time to visit South Carolina

Lake Jocassee in South Carolina

One of the best nature spots in South Carolina with boat-in camping

Best time: all year round

Lake Jocassee
Lake Jocassee
Lake Jocassee
Scenery around Lake Jocassee
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Lake Jocassee is located in Devils Fork State Park in northwest South Carolina. The large manmade lake was created by Duke Power in 1973. It covers 30 sq. km (7,500 acres) and is 91 m (300 ft) deep. The reservoir is fed by clean mountain rivers from the Appalachian Mountains. The Jocassee Gorges was named a destination of a lifetime and one of “50 of the World’s Last Great Places” by National Geographic Magazine.

Lake Jocassee offers countless opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and camping. There is even scuba diving on the lake! One of the most visited places is the 117 m (385 ft)-high dam at the Jocassee Gorges. The Jocassee Valley area is also known for its beautiful waterfalls accessible by boat. Jocassee also boasts the only temperate rain forest area east of the Rockies. Devils Fork State Park is home to diverse flora, especially the rare flower, the Oconee Bell (Shortia galacifolia).

Fishing at Lake Jocassee is also a rewarding experience, as it is home to both cold-water and warm-water fish species. Visitors can catch trout, hybrid stripers, crappie, bass, catfish, pickerel, white bass, and other species. Backpackers can camp at Devil's Fork State Park or any other camping site around Lake Jocassee. There is even an option of boat-in camping.

Practical info

When is the ideal season for camping and hiking in Lake Jocassee?

For those who wish to camp and trek around Lake Jocassee, the early autumn months, especially from mid-September to mid-October, would be the perfect timing as it is not too crowded and the temperature is not too hot. Although the lake attracts a lot of visitors during summer, it is usually too busy and very hot. Weather conditions can also be unpredictable as rain should be expected any time of the year with possible thunderstorms during the summer season. Show more

What are some of the most photogenic spots surrounding Lake Jocassee which can be reached by boat?

A plethora of scenic spots around Lake Jocassee is accessible through boats. The Horsepasture River, Laurel Fork Falls, Lower Whitewater Falls, and Upper Whitewater Falls, are some of the popular sites for kayakers and hikers to discover. The Laurel Fork Falls, in particular, is a hidden waterfall situated in the hilly terrain which provides an 80ft drop. The vastness of Lake Jocassee also provides opportunities for people to explore its crystal clear waters with a wide variety of flora and fauna surrounding its shores. Show more

Which fish species are easily caught in Lake Jocassee and what are the effective ways to catch them?

The most commonly found fish species in Lake Jocassee include trout, hybrid stripers, crappie, bass, catfish, pickerel, and white bass. The lake has some strict fishing regulations, including the use of artificial lures only and restricted harvesting of large and small mouthed bass. Anglers have found trout fishing quite abundant especially when trolling deep waters using spoons or flatfish lures. Crappie is another species that shows during cooler seasons, mainly in spring and autumn, which can be caught by employing bottom fishing techniques and live baits. White bass are known to move in large schools, which makes it easy for anglers to catch them en masse. Show more

What are the rules to be followed when booking boat-in campgrounds, and what are the regulations for camping?

Visitors looking to make a booking at Lake Jocassee's boat-in campsites can make a reservation by phone or online. The grounds have strict rules and regulations for campers that include the importance of leaving the campgrounds as they were found, respecting the plants and wildlife, having campfires only in designated locations, and banning fishing in campsite waters. People need to remain cautious of bears in the area and must follow proper food storage procedures. Visitors must note that electric motors are the only accepted type of motor on boats for camping, and all boating rules should be observed. Show more

What are the unique biodiversity in the animals and plants found near Lake Jocassee that visitors should observe during nature walks?

The Oconee Bell flower blooming in early spring is a key highlight among the flora found around Lake Jocassee. There is also a variety of trees like the white oak, chestnut oak, northern red oak, and American beech. The area is protected, making it a sanctuary for a wide array of animals including black bears, white-tailed deers, mountain lions, gray foxes, raccoons, possums, along with many bird species such as wrens, warblers, and woodpeckers. Visitors should also be mindful of reptiles like timber rattlesnakes and copperheads while traversing the area. Show more

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Last updated: by Dari Vasiljeva