Memorial Day Weekend is a great excuse to get outdoors and enjoy the plethora of outdoor recreation we have at our fingertips here in the Blue Ridge Mountain region. And with tons of scenic high elevation lakes to choose from, why not spend your three-day weekend on the water? Here are eight Blue Ridge lakes that make for the ideal last-minute Memorial Day destination.

Lake James, North Carolina

This 6,812-acre reservoir is located in far Western North Carolina not far from the famed Linville Gorge. Because it is largely contained by Lake James State Park, it’s primed for outdoor recreation and makes for a great last minute getaway. Come prepared for paddling, mountain biking, fishing, and camping. Learn more here.

13131589_10154097924884030_460989170443772147_oFontana Lake, North Carolina

Nestled deep in the heart of the Smoky Mountains, Fontana is an iconic lake known for housing the highest dam east of the Rocky Mountains—which actually doubles as the Appalachian Trail. With more than 200 miles of shoreline and unparalleled scenery in every direction, this Smoky Mountain treasure will keep you busy with hiking, paddling, camping, and fishing not to mention mountain biking at the nearby Tsali Recreation Area.

rsz_img_1827Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia

This Virginia jewel covers parts of three counties: Franklin, Bedford and Pittsylvania. Like Fontana, it is home to hundreds of miles of shoreline and flanked by the scenery of rolling Appalachian peaks, and like both Lake James and Fontana it plays host to miles of well-maintained mountain bike trails. Other popular outdoor pursuits include camping, hiking, and fishing. Learn more here.

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Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Maryland’s largest fresh water reservoir, the 3,900-acre Deep Creek Lake is home to sixty-plus miles of shoreline and offers great opportunity for camping, fishing, boating, and mountain biking. The area is home to the beautiful Wisp Resort, but those looking for adventure on the cheap should check out nearby Deep Creek Lake State Park. Here you’ll find boating access, camping loops, and the locally-loved Mountain Meadow Trail system. Click here for more info.

KayakersLake Jocassee, South Carolina

Not so long ago National Geographic named Jocassee Gorges as one of “50 of the World’s Last Great Places”. Take one look at the photo below and it’s easy to see why. Accessible by way of Devil’s Fork State Park and South Carolina’s renowned Foothills Trail, Jocassee is ideal for lakeside hiking and many different types of flat water paddling trips, from a leisurely afternoon paddle to a multi-day kayak camping trip. Learn more here.

Screen-shot-2015-06-30-at-1.30.14-PM-e1435685661583Carters Lake, Georgia

The deepest of North Georgia’s mountain reservoirs, Carters Lake was formed by the damming of the Coosawattee River in the late 1970’s. Before being dammed the Coosawattee was widely regarded as one of the best whitewater paddling destinations in the eastern United States. Today, the area is still draws outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes. If you plan on visiting, come prepared for hiking, paddling, camping, and mountain biking in nearby Ellijay, the MTB capital of Georgia. Click here for info about the outdoor scene at Carters LakeCarter's LakeBear Creek Lake, North Carolina

Bear Creek Lake is one of North Carolina’s many hidden gems, offering those who can find it a sense of remote solitude that’s hard to come by in the Southeast. In addition to prime trout fishing and amazing flat water paddling opportunities, Bear Creek Lake is the only way to access the 120′ Sols Creek Falls. Be sure to throw some camping gear in the boat too, as beach camping is plentiful when water levels are sufficiently low.

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 11.10.10 AMLake Lure, North Carolina

Lake Lure is a beautiful mountain reservoir less than forty-five minutes from the small mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina. If it’s outdoor recreation in a lakeside setting you’re seeking, you’d be hard pressed to find a better destination than Lake Lure. Popular activities include paddling, hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, and rock climbing. Learn more here.

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