Essential Guide to Smith Mountain Lake


Choosing to make Smith Mountain Lake your home begins with learning about the lake area, including its real estate offerings, amenities, and lifestyle. Whether you’re moving here with your family, purchasing a second home for vacations and special occasions, or making plans for retirement, you’ll find what you’re looking for in our welcoming lake community.

To get you started, we’ve assembled this insider's guide to all things Smith Mountain Lake. You’ll find a wealth of resources and information to help you live, work, and play at the lake!

If there’s anything we haven’t answered or you are ready to begin the search for your lake home, contact Tony Seifred at MKB at the Lake!

Historical evidence places human inhabitants in the area that is now the Smith Mountain Lake community well before the first Europeans arrived around 1670. But the idea to build a dam and create electricity to meet the need of the area’s growing population didn’t surface until the early 20th century.

In 1924, Roanoke-Staunton River Power began buying land in Bedford and Pittsylvania counties with the intention of building a dam at Smith Mountain Gap. While early studies found the dam economically unfeasible, the Army Corps of Engineers recommended it in the 1930s as one of a series of federally funded dams that would create electricity and control flooding along the Roanoke River Basin. Plans stalled when Congress twice failed to fund the Corps’ proposal, forcing proponents to look for other options.

It was a 1953 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that finally cleared the path for the dam to be built by a private entity. Appalachian Power bought the dam site the following year and began to acquire more land for the lake. Construction finally began in 1960, more than half a century after the dam was first envisioned.

Engineers began flooding the area reserved for Smith Mountain Lake in 1963, and the lake reached full pond — 795 feet — in 1966.

Today, Smith Mountain Lake is the largest lake located entirely within Virginia — 40 miles end to end, 500 miles of shoreline, spanning more than 20,000 acres. The lake borders three counties — Bedford, Franklin, and Pittsylvania — and boasts a rich community of arts, culture, business, recreation, tourism, and more.