Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia’s most popular lake, offers superb recreational activities, 500 miles of shoreline, a wide variety of water sports, and affordable lakefront real estate. Known locally as “SML,” it is the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains”
SML’s surface covers 32 square miles. Its highest normal water level (“full pond”) is 795 feet above sea level. There is typically very little seasonal variation in the water level. The daily variation for electricity production is 12-24 inches. During severe drought conditions, including 2007 and 2012, lake levels have fallen by five feet. Under extreme flood conditions, the water level could reach just a few feet below the top of the Smith Mountain Dam, which itself is 802 feet above sea level. (The US Army Corps of Engineers publishes a daily water level report that is also available graphically over time.)
Surrounded by mountains, Smith Mountain Lake’s deepest point is about 250 feet, near the dam itself. Its “average” depth is 55 feet (for more stats, see Lakes for Vacation and Recreation – Lakelubbers). Outside the lake’s many coves in its main channel, 80-150 feet is typical. Water purity is excellent. Water temperatures invite swimming from May through September.
Many retail stores and services are available around the lake. Most are located on or near Rt. 122, about five miles north and south of Hales Ford Bridge. There are two large, modern supermarkets, dozens of restaurants, a dozen banks, a dozen marinas, two YMCAs, two libraries, physicians, dentists, veterinarians, real estate brokers, attorneys, accountants, and scores of independent retail stores. An urgent care center and an evacuation helicopter are located at Westlake, near the intersection of Routes 122 and 616. A second helipad is six miles away, at the Scruggs Volunteer Fire Department. Full-service hospitals, including a regional heart and trauma center, are 30-45 minutes away from the lake in Roanoke, Lynchburg, and Rocky Mount.