Landscape photo of Lake Jocassee in South Carolina.


Ultimate Guide to Visiting Lake Jocassee in South Carolina

Lake Jocassee is one of the most beautiful lakes in the USA! This 7,500 acre, 300 foot deep lake offers clean & cool water all year, making it a must-see in South Carolina.

Lake Jocassee offers camping, beautiful mountain views, waterfalls, fishing and so much more. There is so much to love about this remote Appalachian lake. Although, I’ve grown up going to Lake Jocassee so I could be a little biased. 😉

This lake is perfect for a summer family trip or a cozy weekend getaway! In this guide, you will find EVERYTHING you need to know about planning your visit to Lake Jocassee.

Camping at Lake Jocassee

Lake Jocassee is actually located inside of a state park, Devil’s Fork State Park. This makes the lake extremely accessible and offers many camping opportunities. There are multiple campgrounds & cabins that offer your own personal lakeside oasis.

⛺️ Things to know – Devil’s Fork State Park Overview

COST: $8/adult; $5/SC seniors; $4/children ages 6-15; $0/children ages 0-5 (admission is FREE on Tuesdays)

HOURS: opens at 7am daily; closes at 6pm during Fall-Winter & 9pm during Spring-Summer; Office is open daily 9am-5pm

BOAT RAMPS: 2 non-motorized; 1 motorized

PETS: are allowed but must be kept on leash no longer than 6 ft

WEATHER: the weather on Lake Jocassee can be unpredictable, summer storms blow in over the mountains quickly so be prepared

For more information regarding Devil’s Fork State Park you can visit their website here!

Lake Jocassee Campground

Landscape photo in black & white of Lake Jocassee in South Carolina.

Devil’s Fork State Park has three camping options: standard camping with electricity & water, walk-in tent camping, and boat-in camping. All camping reservations must be made for a minimum of two nights and have to be booked via their website or by calling 1-866-345-PARK. Rates vary based on time of year.

The last thing to take note of is that the campgrounds usually fill up MONTHS in advance. However, if for some reason they have a spot open and you are wanting to book the same day, you have to call the park directly. For example, today is Tuesday and you want to book a spot for tonight then you would have to call 864-944-2639 to speak to someone at the office.

Standard Lake Jocassee Camping Sites

The main campground at Lake Jocassee offers lake views, electricity hook-ups, and water hook-ups. There are bathrooms conveniently located within the campground equipped with hot showers. There are a total of 59 paved camping spots and with each site you can have up to 2 vehicles. Some sites are even able to accommodate RV’s up to 40 foot long.

Each camping site is equipped with a 12′ by 12′ tent pad, a picnic table and a fire ring. You can have a maximum of two tents per campsite but they cannot be on the ground that is not designated for a tent.

Within the main campground you have access to the dump station along with trash/recycling containers, and laundry facilities.

Walk-In Tent Camping Sites

Along with a standard campground, Lake Jocassee offers primitive, walk-in, tent only camping sites. These sites do not offer electricity or water hook-ups. However, they do include a picnic table and a fire ring.

This walk-in tent camping area offers 25 12′ by 12′ elevated tent pads that can accommodate only 1 tent per site. You cannot have any tent on the ground that is not designated for a tent.

The campsites are just a short walk from the parking area where you can find water spigots and bathroom facilities.

Boat-In Camping Sites

The boat-in camping sites are located on the northern shore of Lake Jocassee. These campsites are considered backcountry; they require a short, moderate hike and are ONLY accessible by boat.

There are a total of 25 sites that are equipped with a fire ring/grill pit combination.

Cabins on Lake Jocassee

Devils Fork State Park offers 20 fully-furnished villas. They are equipped with linens, kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, microwave, heat/AC, coffee maker, AND a TV. Not to mention, they have a screened in porch, charcoal grill and picnic table. Talk about glamping!!!

There are fifteen 2 bedroom cabins and five 3 bedroom cabins with a variety of different sleeping arrangements. Some with queen beds, some with two double beds and some with two queen beds.

Note: Pets are only allowed in cabins 1-5.

There are also a few privately owned rentals that you can reserve. Jocassee Treehouse and The Jocassee Tiny House, just to name a few.

Fishing on Lake Jocassee

Fishing is one of the best activities to do while you are camping at Lake Jocassee. The deep, cool water provides the perfect habitat for many species of fish: brown trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie.

Lake Jocassee is actually the only lake in South Carolina that has both trout and smallmouth bass! AND holds records for some of the largest trout caught in the state! So come prepared with your SC fishing license on your Lake Jocassee camping trip.

And NO, there are no alligators in Lake Jocassee! I am so surprised at how often this question is asked. Alligators are only in the mid-lower half of South Carolina.

Lake Jocassee Rentals

Lake Jocassee offers on-site canoe, kayak, SUP and pontoon rentals via Eclectic Sun. I recommend making your reservations prior to your trip so that you are guaranteed to have availability. You can do this by calling Eclectic Sun directly at 864-944-1191 or by visiting their website.

You will pick up your rental at their kiosk near the Lake Jocassee beach area. You will turn left into the state park and then take an immediate right into the parking area, there will be a covered pavilion and this is where you will find Eclectic Sun along with your rental.

Waterfalls on Lake Jocassee

Woman in kayak in front of waterfall on Lake Jocassee in South Carolina.

One of the most unique features about Lake Jocassee is there are MANY waterfalls cascading down the Appalachian mountains into the lake. Approximately 7, all of which are only accessible by boat!

There are boat tours that will take you to see the waterfalls OR you can use a map and try to locate them on your own. I will say that they are tucked into the mountains and can be difficult to find. A lot of the times you will hear them before you see them.

Map of Lake Jocassee Waterfalls

Here is my map of Lake Jocassee: Link to map!

How to Get to Waterfalls on Lake Jocassee

If you are looking for a tour guide, here are a few recommendations: Jocassee Lake Tours and Jocassee Charters!

However, you are able to get to these yourself via a motorized boat. They can be in pretty tight locations so if you are not confident in your boat-driving abilities then a tour may be safer. Also, they can get pretty busy, as this is a major highlight of the lake so plan to hit them up as early as possible.

There’s also 1 waterfall that is pretty close so you can even paddle to it via kayak, canoe or even a SUP. I have done this and can confirm that it is AMAZING! You just paddle right up under the water, so cool. You will drive to the farthest non-motorized boat ramp and then paddle the shoreline to the left. You will run right into it.

History of Lake Jocassee

People are often surprised to know that Lake Jocassee wasn’t always a lake, it is actually a man-made reservoir. Created in 1973 by Duke Power in partnership with the state of South Carolina.

To this day, people dive into the 300 foot deep lake to find remnants of the old town, known as Keowee Town or Keowee Village.

Even further, Jocassee is actually a Cherokee word meaning “place of the lost one” which makes this history even more chilling. And as legends have it, Jocassee was also the name of a Cherokee chiefs daughter who’s love was murdered and she walked across the water to meet his spirit. However, I am not sure how reliable that story is since Lake Jocassee was not made until 1973. Maybe that is in reference to another body of water?

No wonder this lake was featured in National Geographic’s: “50 of the World’s Last Great Places”.

So whether you are camping, fishing or just relaxing on the beach, Lake Jocassee has something for you. Let me know in the comments below if you have any other questions and I will be happy to answer them!

Please remember to follow ♻️ LEAVE NO TRACE ♻️ principles when recreating!




I'm a micro-wedding and elopement photographer in Upstate, South Carolina. My style is documentary—I love capturing the in-between, unposed moments between you and your love. I strive to know you and capture you at your most authentic.