About Smith Mountain Lake Homes, History and More

smith mountain lake homes history more

Many Smith Mountain Lake homes in the area feature water & mountain views

Get Info on the Smith Mountain Lake Area History & More

When considering whether the wide range of Smith Mountain Lake homes offer what you are looking for, it’s important to first find out more about the area you’ll be calling home.

We’ve put together this general information guide for you so you can get a feel for the community, local economic conditions, boating considerations and more.

Smith Mountain Lake Homes and Real Estate Information

Nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Smith Mountain Lake spans 20,600 acres, is 40 miles long and features 500 miles of shoreline. The lake borders three counties (Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania) and offers beautiful views, sparkling water and a multitude of recreational activities.

Since it was established in the 1960s, the opportunities for Smith Mountain Lake real estate options have gone through a significant change. Our region now is bursting with custom building opportunities, well-designed developments, maintenance-free neighborhoods and pristine condominium and town home communities that support a high quality of living.

In addition, large lots and land opportunities, low taxes and well-developed neighborhoods aid buyers in turning their dreams of owning lake property into a reality. Buyers in retirement or approaching retirement seek SML as the perfect place for entertaining and accommodating guests.

Homes on Smith Mountain Lake  range from modest accommodations on quiet coves to extraordinary luxury homes with striking landscapes and impressive docks. SML is a haven not only for those seeking permanent residence, but also retirees and those looking for a serene setting for a second home, condo or townhouse. Though the lake has increased in popularity, waterfront property remains plentiful and reasonably priced.

You can search for available Smith Mountain Lake homes for sale here.

SML History

When was Smith Mountain Lake made? The lake was created in 1966 when engineers dammed the Blackwater and Roanoke rivers, flooding Smith Mountain Gap. Owned and operated by American Electric Power, the dam provides hydro-electric power for Virginia and surrounding states.

Get more information on the Smith Mountain Project and the Visitor Center

Smith Mountain Lake Weather

Average temperatures are in the mid-70s in the summer and upper 30s in the winter. Annual precipitation is 45 inches of rain and 15 inches of snow at Smith Mountain Lake. Homes here are generally maintained well with easy winterization techniques.

Smith Mountain Lake Level

The water level at Smith Mountain Lake fluctuates due to a number of reasons, including water flow from the dam and precipitation. “Full pond” is considered 795 feet above sea level. To view current and past lake levels, visit smithmountainlakelevel.com.

Other Smith Mountain Lake Facts and Figures

What is the elevation of Smith Mountain?

2,038 feet

What is the deepest part of Smith Mountain Lake?

SML is at its deepest around the dam at 250 feet. The average depth is about 55 feet. Source

How high is Halesford Bridge?

820 feet

How tall is the dam at Smith Mountain Lake?

The Smith Mountain Dam is a double curvature, concrete arch type spanning 816 feet and rising 235 feet above the floor of the gap; Leesville Dam is a concrete gravity dam and is 980 feet long and 90 feet tall. The project’s two lakes reached their normal “full” water level in 1966. Source

What is the population of Smith Mountain Lake?

Approximately 20,000 people live in the Smith Mountain Lake area as permanent residents.

What types of fish are in Smith Mountain Lake?

Striped bass is the prized catch at SML. It’s also commonly referred to as striper and rock fish. Other popular fish at Smith Mountain Lake include largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskie, sunfish crappie.

What movies have been filmed at Smith Mountain Lake?

SML was featured prominently in the 1991 movie “What about Bob?” starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfuss (though the script setting was New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee).

The 2011 film “Lake Effects” starring Jane Seymour, Madeline Zima and Scottie Thompson, was set and filmed at SML. It was written and produced by then lake resident Sara Elizabeth Timmins.

Does David Baldacci live at Smith Mountain Lake?

The New York Times bestselling author of more than 40 novels owns a vacation home on Smith Mountain Lake. He donates regularly to local charitable organizations and often holds book signings at The Little Gallery at Bridgewater Plaza.

Taxes and Utilities on Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate

The real estate tax rates on Smith Mountain Lake homes are some of the lowest in the state of Virginia.

Real Estate (100% assessment):

Bedford County : $.52 per $100
Franklin County : $.55 per $100
Pittsylvania County : $.59 per $100

Virginia sales and use tax: 5.3% (4.3% state and 1% local)

Travel Distance

Smith Mountain Lake is 30-45-minute drive from both Roanoke and Lynchburg, Virginia. depending on where you are at the lake Below are some additional travel distances.

City Distance in Miles (approx.)
Atlanta , Ga. 445
Baltimore , Md. 272
Charleston , WVa. 225
Charlotte , N.C. 190
Chicago , Ill. 700
Cincinnati , Ohio 460
Cleveland , Ohio 460
Columbus , Ohio 375
Knoxville , Tenn. 290
Lexington , Ky. 385
Nashville, Tenn. 465
New York, N.Y. 505
Norfolk, Va. 225
Pittsburgh, Pa. 365
Raleigh, N.C. 175
Richmond, Va. 150
Washington, D.C. 220

Find out more about Roanoke and the surrounding region from Virgina’s Blue Ridge.

Need a vacation rental? Many owners of Smith Mountain Lake waterfront homes offer weekly rental options. Visit Meg Spurrier’s web site.

For more information on dining, accommodations, golf, shopping, fishing, entertainment and all things Smith Mountain Lake, visit the SML Regional Chamber of Commerce or the Smith Mountain Laker magazine. The Chamber publishes an excellent, full-color Visitor and Newcomer Guide each year, which you can read online or order a hard copy for free.

Smith Mountain Lake Health Care Options Continue to Expand

Convenient and quality healthcare is an important factor for anyone moving to a new location. There was a time when most houses at Smith Mountain Lake were several miles from most types of healthcare providers and even further from the nearest hospitals.

But healthcare has come to the Smith Mountain Lake community in a big and exciting way in the last few years. A number of regional medical companies (most notably Carilion, Centra and LewisGale) have noticed the need of a growing SML population and have answered with state-of-the-art facilities in the Moneta and Westlake areas.

Virginia Boating Requirements – What is the new law?

Those considering owning waterfront homes at Smith Mountain Lake will need to know the boating safety laws that effect our area if they want to take advantage of boating on the lake.

In 2007, the Virginia General Assembly enacted a law to establish a boating safety education compliance requirement. The law was phased in over several years and, starting in 2016, all operators of boats with a 10-hp or greater motor, regardless of age, are required to complete a boater safety education course and have the completion card on board when their vessel is in operation. The same requirement applies to operators of personal watercraft (PWCs), commonly referred to as jet skis, Sea-Doos and waverunners.

Sailboat operators do not have to meet the requirement unless the sailboat has a motor that is 10 hp or greater (whether or not the engine is running). A canoeist does not have to meet the requirement, nor does a kayaker, a rower, or operator of other manually propelled craft.

What if I’m only looking at boat rentals at Smith Mountain Lake?

If you rent a boat at Smith Mountain Lake, the requirements are different. All captains of rented watercraft must participate in the training program offered by the boat or PWC rental business. The business will provide you with the documentation you need to comply with Virginia’s education requirement.

What if I am only visiting Smith Mountain Lake and bringing my boat?

You must demonstrate that you are not a resident of Virginia, that you are temporarily using the water of Virginia for a period of 90 days or less (your boat is registered in another state as the “state of principal use”), and that you meet any applicable boating safety education requirements of your state of residency.

Is there a minimum age to operate?

For a personal watercraft, the minimum operator age is 14 and operators must complete and pass a boating safety course before they can operate. For a motorboat, there is no minimum operator age and there is no minimum age requirement to attend a NASBLA approved boating safety course. Youngsters can operate a boat under direct supervision of a person who meets the boating safety education requirement.

Where can I take a boating education course at SML?

The Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) offers classroom and online courses. Find details here: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/boating/education/requirement/steps-to-requirement/

Article Topic: About Smith Mountain Lake Homes, History and More

Other frequently asked questions about SML

What is the speed limit on roads where no limit is posted?

The speed limit for most business and residential areas is 25 mph. On secondary roads (those routes numbered 600 and above, with one exception), the limits are 45 mph for trucks and 55 mph for other vehicles.

Nearly all of the roads around the lake have route numbers above 600, which means all roads around the lake that don’t have a speed limit sign posted are 55 mph for vehicles other than trucks. There are a few signs that say “End 45 mph,” which means the speed limit increases to 55 mph.