Are You Looking For A Refreshing Escape This Summer?

July, 2024

Lake James is an idyllic mountain lake just off 1-40 outside of Morganton, North Carolina. The lake is sourced by mountain creeks which leads it to be a clear and naturally cool place to recreate this summer. Below are some great ways to enjoy the water at Lake James.

Go For A Swim- Lake James State Park at Paddy’s Creek is located off highway 126 in Burke County and features many hiking trails, a beautiful new interactive visitor center and a swim beach.  The swim beach cost $4-$6 a person depending on age to access the beach with a netted swim area and lifeguard for the day.  It is a great place to visit the beach in the western part of the state and is fun for the whole family.

Kayak- Lake James State Park has partnered with REI to rent Kayaks, Stand Up Paddle Boards and Canoes starting at $25/hr. Departing from the swim beach, renters can explore the whole lake, including views of Linville Gorge, Grandfather Mountain, the state park, bridges and more.

Camping- There are many camping options along Lake James from small cabins at Lake James Camping Resort to campgrounds with bath houses and parking spots and more remote options like boat-in camping at the State Park.  The long arm boat in camping is primitive, without access to bathrooms, water or food and can only be accessed by boat.  This is the only camping like this that is still reservable in North Carolina and is a very unique experience. You may take your own boat or rent one from the state park overnight to access your site.

Pontoon- If you want to explore more of the lake without exerting so much effort, there are great places to rent pontoons on Lake James or you can bring your own.  If you have your own boat, we recommend putting in at the Canal Bridge or Linville Boat Access.  If you do not have your own, there are many great rental options including Lake James Boat Rentals or Benfields Landing Boat Rentals.

Sunset Boat Tour- Experience Lake James on a modern houseboat during the sunset without having to worry about driving!  This sunset boat tour is a great option for someone really wanting to take in the beauty of Lake James while someone else points out mountains, wildlife and more while you sit back and relax.  Book individual tickets on a tour for a cost effective boat trip or rent the whole vessel for a group.

No matter how you get out and explore, we hope your summer travels include Lake James!

We hope to see you exploring Nature’s Playground this summer- check out our new visitor center in downtown Morganton for maps, trail information and more at 140 N Sterling Street, Morganton.

Morganton is hailed as, “The Trailhead of Western North Carolina”, centrally located in Burke County. Our Visitor’s Center is full of information about unique attractions and activities in the area. Stop by and visit us or visit