Discover the hidden gem of Lake Keowee, where endless adventures await! Uncover the best-kept secrets of lakeside dining, where tantalizing flavors dance on your taste buds. Dive into the pristine waters, exploring hidden coves and serene bays. Join us as we reveal the top spots to rent boats and unleash your inner captain. From thrilling water sports to tranquil escapes, Lake Keowee offers it all.
Boat. Float. Repeat.
With 300+ miles of shoreline, family-favorite Lake Keowee is a real stunner, offering crystal-clear blue-green water and gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Less than an hour directly west of downtown Greenville in the greater Upstate, Lake Keowee is one of the top South Carolina lakes with lots of fun things to do including boating, fishing, water sports, swimming, kayaking, hiking, camping, and picnicking. Covering more than 18,300 acres (making it roughly half the size of Washington, D.C.), the lake is close to a dozen public access areas, and boat rentals are available at several outfitters.
A Cherokee name that roughly translates as “the place of the mulberries,” today Lake Keowee is more widely considered the place for boaters. Its sparkling, warm waters fed by Lake Jocassee to the north, and wide, winding channels make this a desirable destination for weekend warriors and second-home owners alike.
At approximately 26 miles long, 3 miles wide, and averaging 54 feet in depth, some describe Lake Keowee as being shaped like a Christmas tree. Its large main channel branches off to form many smaller channels and coves to either side; the 71 islands form the “ornaments.”
Before you start packing your swimsuit,
here’s everything you need to know about things to do in the area + our insider tips.
If anyone asks you, “Water you doing at the lake later?”, we’ve got you covered.
Table of Contents
GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE SUN
For a reel good time, two must-see spots on Lake Keowee include Jumping Rock and Waterfall Cove.
📍 Jumping Rock is a 30-foot boulder where boaters gather to float, swim, and watch a few daring climbers jump (feet first only) into the lake from above.
📍 Party Cove Falls is perhaps the most popular place on Lake Keowee, where the sound of boat engines is replaced by the sounds of a cascading waterfall. Watercraft gather ‘round, making for a festive flotilla. Anchor your boat, take a refreshing dip, and climb to the top of the falls.
MAKE A SPLASH
📍 To the northeast of Lake Keowee is Twin Falls, two 75-foot waterfalls that flow into Reedy Cove Creek (which feeds into the lake.) It’s a short, easy hike with beautiful views—perfect for both kids and adults.
📍 For an exciting twist, visit the natural waterslide at Long Shoals Wayside Park on your way to go hiking. Everybody loves the waterfall’s smooth rock surface, and the shallow pool at the end provides a fun way to play in the water. It’s a unique attraction, and safe for children of all ages!
IF THERE'S A WILL, THERE'S A WAVE
Rent a boat (or whatever type of watercraft *floats your boat*) from these area outfitters, which are just a sampling of available outfitters on Lake Keowee.
📍 Jocassee Outdoor Center
516 Jocassee Lake Rd., Salem; 864.944.9016
Ski Boats, Pontoons, Tritoons & Water Toys (Tubes, Water Skis, Wakeboards & Kneeboards)
*Pontoons are pet-friendly; also, don’t let the name fool you, they do serve Lake Keowee.
📍 Keowee Marina
150 Keowee Marina Dr., Seneca; 864.882.2047
Pontoon, Tritoon & Sport-toon Boats, Canoes, Paddleboards & Pedalboards, Kayaks (Single & Tandem)
📍 Lake Keowee Boat Rentals
1912 Industrial Park Pl., Seneca; 864.280.2726
Waverunners (Jet Skis), Tritoon Boats & Water Toys (Tubes, Water Skis, Wakeboards & Kneeboards)
TAKE STUFF. LEAVE STUFF.
Geocaching.com proclaims that hobbyists worldwide hunt for more than 3 million caches, and Lake Keowee is the motherlode. About 30 caches are hidden within a five-mile radius, including many on Lake Keowee’s islands. Geocaching for those who haven’t tried it, is a treasure hunt, just on a global scale! The “treasures” (called caches) are hidden all throughout the world. Users can utilize the Geocaching app to help them ﬁnd where a secret cache may be hidden. Then it’s up to the user to locate the hidden item and log it in their log book! This is one of our favorite family outdoor activities when visiting Lake Keowee!
TURN DOWN FOR WATT
Looking for free things to do? Check out the World of Energy! It is an educational visitor center located at the Oconee Nuclear Station (one of the nation’s largest nuclear plants) in Seneca. From learning how electricity is produced to enjoying a picnic along the picturesque shores of Lake Keowee, the World of Energy offers something for everyone. Visitors of all ages will discover how energy is made from water, coal, and uranium, as well as the increasing importance of renewable energy from the wind and sun. The self-guided tour lets you explore at your own pace.
BE ON LAKE TIME
This South Carolina State Park occupies 1,000 acres along Lake Keowee’s northern shoreline and has plenty of things to do outdoors. Keowee-Toxaway offers hiking and biking trails, camping (both tent and RV), fishing, scenic lake views, and 1.5 miles of high-flying fun from Upstate Zipline—the best way to see the lake and surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains!
📍 Tiki Hut Lakeside Grill
Keowee Marina, 156 Keowee Marina Dr., Seneca
Located directly at the southern end of the lake, dock your boat at this island-inspired bar & grill offering Polynesian drinks and bites.
📍 The Lighthouse Restaurant
1290 State Rd. S-37-15, Seneca
This centrally-located lakeside restaurant serves American fare in a casual setting with an upscale second-floor dining room.
Pro Tip: Try the almond-crusted, honey-glazed chicken; you’ll be glad you did.
📍 The Cabana at the Lighthouse
1290 State Rd. S-37-15, Seneca
This causal lakeside dining spot is home to the infamous Orange Crush cocktail, live entertainment, and delicious food on your plate.
Lake Keowee, located near the cities of Seneca and Clemson, is a man-made reservoir created in 1971 by the construction of the Keowee Dam, which impounded the waters of the Keowee River. The initial cost of construction, building, and flooding of the lake was $700 million. Lake Keowee is situated directly between Lake Jocassee to the north, and Lake Hartwell to the south.
The lake is home to a variety of fish species, including largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, bream, and catfish, which makes it a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts. In addition to its recreational uses, Lake Keowee also serves as a source of hydroelectric power for the surrounding region. The lake is managed by Duke Energy and serves as a backup water supply for the city of Greenville, SC.
Did You Know?
Lake water helps to cool Duke Energy’s three nuclear reactors located at the Oconee Nuclear Station, and the force of falling water helps generate hydroelectric power as well.
-Kimberly Collier, Greenville Journal