Camp on Lake Jocassee

Added by Kandis Owens

Devil's Fork State Park allows the only public access to the stunning Lake Jocassee. Pitch your tent in one of the several clean campsites and witness the breathtaking panoramas.

To avoid the regret of cutting your trip too short, go ahead and book a campsite. Come as a walk-in or reserve your site.  Either way, you will have to check in at the Park Office.  Upon check-in, you will receive your map and general information.  Check-in time for camping is 2PM.

The only public access to this pristine lake is through Devil's Fork State Park in Salem, South Carolina.  The park strictly enforces Leave No Trace ethics and park staff do a commendable job at keeping the grounds clean.  There are three ways to camp at Jocassee: 1) RV camping, 2) Tent camping, 3) Backcountry tent camping

One feature of Devil's Fork that is particularly enticing are the boat-in campsites.  These offer a more secluded experience to behold the crystalline reservoir.  It is about a 2-mile paddle across the lake (and the current varies!) so be prepared to get a nice moderate workout in.  Of course, motor boats are also welcome.  

We chanced it as walk-in campers and though deluxe tent sites were taken, most of the the rustic tent sites were open.  These sites are quite spacious and equipped with a fire pit (grill grate attached), tent pad, and a picnic table.  They are not the most private sites so reserving your dump trips for twilight may be a bit inconvenient, but the ample space makes up for the lack of total privacy.  For those of you that prefer porcelain over dirt, the welcome center is a short drive away and equipped with standard bathrooms.  There are also two well-kept comfort stations nearby with showers, but for our stay, this was not necessary.  Deluxe tent sites offer electrical hookups, water, and are closer to the comfort stations.

We chose rustic tent site 11 which is adjacent to a corner site beside the lakeshore.  The "hike" in was about 450 feet from the campground parking lot on a paved walkway (at most, the walk in will be about 1000 feet for these sites).  Bring a wagon for the haul if you're tent "glamping" and you're good to go. 

The ease of lakeshore access varies depending on the campsite, but we were able to scramble down the rocky hill without spraining an ankle. As with all rocky crossings, be sure to test the rocks for stability first before any sudden leaps.  We ate lunch lakeside and the view before us was absolutely stunning.  A few kayakers, boaters, and SUPers passed by. A lone blue heron stood scanning the lake for any unlucky fish. The soft wind made for mild waves crashing up against the rocks, mimicking the ocean's soundtrack.  It really is paradise.

For daytime adventure, go for a paddle.  There are two boat ramps in the park, but we were able to launch our kayak about 200 feet from our campsite.  One of the main draws of Jocassee are the several lakeside waterfalls that are accessible by boat (kayak, canoe, or motor) and it really does make for an awesome adventure.  My partner and I actually misplaced our map, but decided to go for it anyway without heading to the Park Office for a new one.  I do not recommend attempting the paddle without a map, but for us, getting lost was half the fun (until we had to paddle back!) We ended up paddling 8 miles round trip and only actually found ONE waterfall. Take a map. 

Don't feel like paddling? Go for a swim.  Even in the beginning of October, the water was still warm and perfectly refreshing.  There are endless swimming holes across the lake, but swimming right near camp is also an option.  There are no swimming restrictions and there are no lifeguards.  

If you like to catch your dinner, bring your fishing gear in this prime trout and smallmouth bass territory.  Other daytime activities include hiking and scuba diving and after a fun-filled day, get the campfire going and marvel at the night sky above. I definitely recommend camping for at least two nights to really take in all of its beauty. 

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Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Picnic Area
Swimming Hole


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Love Jocassie

This lake is SC best kept secret!

One of my favorite places

Whether summer, spring, winter, or fall I can always find some sort of activity to enjoy out at jocassee. Camping, photography, bird watching, kayaking(my favorite).

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