Fontana Lake

A Comprehensive Guide to Lakes Near Asheville, NC

Are you seeking refuge in the mountains but still need your water fix? Are you looking for a lake close to Asheville where you can let out on the water for the day?

Asheville is known for its vibrant arts scene and historic architecture, but also its proximity to some of the most beautiful lakes in Western North Carolina.

These bodies of water offer a perfect blend of scenic beauty and recreational activities, making them a must-visit for both nature lovers and adventure seekers.

The Allure of Lakes Near Asheville

The lakes near Asheville, North Carolina, offer a variety of attractions for visitors. They provide opportunities for numerous outdoor activities, from boating and fishing to hiking and picnicking.

Each lake has its own unique characteristics and features, making them interesting destinations for exploration.

The natural beauty of these lakes, combined with the recreational possibilities they offer, make them popular spots for both locals and tourists.

In the following sections, we will delve into the specifics of each lake, providing a comprehensive guide for anyone planning a visit to these remarkable natural attractions.

Lake Santeetlah

lake santeetlah
Lake Santeetlah in Great Smoky Mountains

Lake Santeetlah, located about 100 miles west of Asheville, is a standout among North Carolina’s mountain lakes. Known for its unspoiled beauty, the lake is a favorite among nature enthusiasts. It offers a variety of recreational activities including boating, with several boat rental services available. Camping is also popular, with the Cheoah Point Campground offering lakefront campsites.

Fontana Lake

Fontana Lake
Fontana Lake

Fontana Lake, situated along the Indian Lakes Scenic Byway, offers a unique blend of accessibility and preserved wilderness. The lake’s shoreline stretches for 238 miles, with 90% preserved by the National Park Service. Boating is permitted, and there are several marinas that offer boat rentals. Camping is also available at a number of campgrounds around the lake.

Nantahala Lake

Nantahala Lake
Nantahala Lake

Nantahala Lake is part of the Great Smoky Mountains’ waterways system and is within a two-hour drive from Asheville. The lake is a popular destination for water sports, including boating, with boat rentals available. There are also several campgrounds in the area for those who wish to stay overnight.

Glenville Lake

glenville lake
Glenville Lake

Glenville Lake, also part of the Great Smoky Mountains waterways, is within a two-hour drive from Asheville. It’s a great spot for those who enjoy fishing and boating, with boat rentals available. Camping is not permitted directly on the lake, but there are campgrounds in the nearby Nantahala National Forest.

Activities at the Lakes


Boating is a popular activity at all of these lakes. Whether you’re an experienced sailor or a beginner, you’ll find suitable conditions for a day out on the water. Boat rentals are available at each lake, offering a variety of options from motorboats to canoes and kayaks.


Fishing is another common pastime at these lakes. Each lake is home to a variety of fish species, making them ideal for both casual anglers and serious fishermen. Remember to check local regulations and obtain the necessary fishing licenses.


For those who prefer land-based activities, the areas surrounding the lakes offer numerous hiking trails. These trails range in difficulty from easy walks to challenging hikes, offering something for everyone.


Finally, picnicking is a great way to enjoy the scenic beauty of these lakes. Many of the lakes have designated picnic areas, but you can also find your own perfect spot to lay out a blanket and enjoy a meal with a view.

Conservation and Preservation Efforts

The lakes near Asheville, North Carolina, are not just recreational spots; they are also important natural habitats that require careful management and conservation.

Local authorities and environmental organizations have implemented various measures to preserve these lakes and their surrounding ecosystems. These include regulations on fishing and boating to minimize disturbance to wildlife, as well as initiatives to maintain the cleanliness and water quality of the lakes.

Visitors are encouraged to follow “Leave No Trace” principles. This means taking all trash with you when you leave, not disturbing wildlife, and staying on designated trails when hiking.

In addition, there are ongoing efforts to educate the public about the importance of these lakes and their ecosystems. This includes information boards at the lakes, guided tours, and educational programs.

By respecting these rules and participating in conservation efforts, visitors can help ensure that these beautiful lakes can be enjoyed by future generations.

Practical Information for Visitors

If you’re planning a visit to the lakes near Asheville, North Carolina, here are some practical tips and information to help you prepare for your trip.

Best Times to Visit

The best time to visit these lakes depends on the activities you’re interested in. For boating and swimming, the warm summer months are ideal. If you’re interested in fishing, check the local regulations for the best seasons for different fish species.

Facilities and Services

Each lake offers a range of facilities and services. These typically include boat rentals, picnic areas, and restrooms. Some lakes also have campgrounds for overnight stays. Check the specific facilities for each lake before your visit.

Fees and Permits

Some activities at the lakes may require fees or permits. For example, fishing usually requires a license, and there may be fees for boat rentals or campground use. Check the local regulations for details.

Visitor Tips

Finally, remember to respect the natural environment during your visit. Follow all rules and regulations, stay on designated trails when hiking, and don’t leave any trash behind. With these tips in mind, you’re ready to enjoy a memorable visit to the lakes near Asheville, North Carolina.

Final Thoughts

The lakes near Asheville, North Carolina, offer a unique blend of natural beauty and outdoor recreation.

From the unspoiled waters of Lake Santeetlah to the recreational haven of Fontana Lake, each body of water presents its own unique charm and set of activities.

Whether you’re an avid boater, a keen angler, a nature enthusiast, or simply someone seeking tranquility, these lakes provide a perfect getaway.

As you plan your visit, remember to respect these natural wonders and participate in their preservation.

Enjoy your exploration of these remarkable lakes and the memorable experiences they offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best time of year to visit the lakes near Asheville, NC?

The best time to visit depends on your preferred activities. Summer is ideal for boating and swimming, while fishing seasons vary based on the species of fish.

2. Are there any restrictions or regulations for visitors to these lakes?

Yes, there are regulations to preserve the natural environment. These include fishing licenses, boating rules, and “Leave No Trace” principles. Always check local regulations before your visit.

3. What kind of wildlife can be seen at these lakes?

The lakes and their surrounding areas are home to a variety of wildlife. This can include different species of fish, birds, and mammals. Always observe wildlife from a distance and do not disturb them.

4. Are there any guided tours available for these lakes?

Guided tours are available at some lakes, offering educational insights into the local ecosystem. Check with local tour operators for availability.

5. Can you swim in the lakes near Asheville, NC?

Swimming is permitted in some lakes, but it’s important to check local regulations and safety information. Always prioritize safety when swimming in natural bodies of water.

I'm Dylan Lennon, an Asheville local, the founder of this Asheville Real Estate website, and a Realtor in Asheville. Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I appreciate your time spent on this site and am always open to suggestions and ideas from our readers. You can connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, or contact me through this website. I'd love to hear from you.

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