Lake James State Park, North Carolina (Hemera/Thinkstock)


Share this gallery with your friends to see what they think


What to do in Lake James State Park

Lake James is a man-made lake as the result of the creation of three dams. The lake is named for James B Duke, founder of Duke Power Company. It has approximately 5 miles of shoreline and over 564 acres of land. Over 220,000 people visit the park each year to camp, swim, picnic, fish or hike to beautiful vistas of the Black Mountain Range.

Park Hours: November-February 8 am-6 pm; March, October 8 am - 7 pm; April, May, September 8 am - 8 pm; June-August 8 am - 9 pm. Office hours: 8 am-5 pm Monday through Friday. Gates will remain locked, except in emergency situations, when the park is not in operation. Please plan accordingly. The park is closed Christmas Day.

There are four hiking trails leading to various destinations along Lake James.

The park offers twenty picnic sites each with tables, trash receptacles and outdoor grills. Drinking water and restrooms are located nearby. A picnic shelter with 12 tables is available for group gatherings. Use of the shelter is free of charge unless reservations are requested.

There is no group camping but there are 20 sites for backpack camping 150 to 300 yards from the parking lot. Each campsite provides a fireplace with grill, a picnic table and tent space. Water is available from nearby faucets located every five sites. The washhouse is near the parking lot. Campsites are available for a modest fee and on a first-come basis. Camping is available March 15th through November 30th.

Fishing and boating are major attraction of this park. A number of nearby launching sites and marinas offer boats for rent while the park offers canoe rental from the concession stand from June 1 through Labor Day.

Park rangers are available for information about the lake and the surrounding area. Environmental Educational Learning Experience (EELE)–Water Life-Grades 2, 3, and 4. Introduces students to a lakeshore environment, focusing on the plants and animals that live there. Major concepts covered include: lakeshore, habitats, aquatic sampling, aquatic plants and animals and stewardship.

Pisgah National Forest is just moments away from this lovely state park. Pisgah offers endless opportunities for camping, hiking, viewing scenery and wildlife, picnicking, swimming and much more.

The park is located in Burke and McDowell counties, seven miles northeast of Marion on NC 126. From I-40, take the Nebo/Lake James Exit #90, head north, cross US 70 and follow the signs to the park.

Winter daytime temperatures range from 36 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to 4 Celsius). Summer daytime temperatures range from 76 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 26 Celsius). Spring and Fall daytime temperatures range from 71 to 73 (20's Celsius). The state has a fairly wet climate with an average precipitation for this area averaging slightly less than 44 inches (112 centimeters).

P.O. Box 340
Nebo, NC 28761

Phone: 828-652-5047

Fax: 828-659-8911

  • Lake James State Park Travel Q&A