Ready to hit the water?
Here are all the businesses and attractions that can help you have a great day on Lake Murray.
About Lake Murray
Considered “The Jewel of South Carolina,” Lake Murray draws thousands of visitors each day. While the popular waterway spans four counties, 50,000 acres and 650 miles of shoreline, most of it is in Lexington County. Scenic landscapes, terrific fishing, and top-notch boating are just three reasons many people choose to live on or near its shores. In June 2011, Boating Magazine named Lake Murray one of the Top 10 places in the country to live and boat. Thousands come each year to nationally sponsored fishing tournaments, including the Forrest L. Wood Tour, the National Bass Circuit, and Bassmasters tournaments.
Lake Murray wasn’t always the center of recreation. When it was constructed in 1930, its primary purpose was to use the swift waters of the Saluda River to bring electricity to rural areas of the state’s mid-section. At the time, it was the largest power reservoir in the world, and the Dreher Shoals Dam was the largest earthen dam built for power purposes in the world.
Back then, few would have predicted that Lake Murray would flourish with recreational tourism, real estate and economic development. Sailors, kayakers, skiers, campers, and bird watchers love the lake, as do those who revel in a serene view from their porches and decks. Lakefront property, once readily available, is now at a premium. Vacation homes and private residences surround the shoreline, but there are pristine areas, including Dreher Island State Park, for those who want a get-away-from-it-all experience.
Lake Murray’s largest event is its July 4th celebration. Voted a Top 10 event by the Southeastern Tourism Society, it draws more than 125,000 spectators each year. A patriotic boat parade and fireworks launched from multiple locations create colorful fun for participants and spectators.
Humans aren’t the only ones who’ve found a home on the lake. An estimated one million purple martins have made Lunch Island their roosting place in July and August. The island, once a practice bombing range for WWII plane crews, is now the largest natural roosting sanctuary for purple martins in North America. For years, people have boated to the island at sunset to witness the phenomenon that occurs when the birds return to the island to roost. The sky grows dark as the birds swirl in circles above the island, chattering noisily. Two tour boats, the Southern Patriot and the Spirit of Lake Murray, provide purple martin cruises. Bikers, joggers and walkers use the protected side lanes on the dam for exercise – all while enjoying a waterfront view. Parks on either side of the dam are available for swimming, boating and picnicking.
For decades, artists have found inspiration on Lake Murray. Many have painted scenes that include the five famous towers built when the dam was constructed. Artists know, as do all those who live here, that Lake Murray is a valuable resource. For something that was created for practical reasons, it sure is fun.