Since the county line runs through the middle of the lake, residents of the area belong to one of two groups. Those to the northeast of the lake are in Bedford County. Those to southwest are in Franklin County. While some might think the county boundaries would keep people apart, the lake serves to bring them together. Lake-area residents enjoy a number of community events including antique boating, the arts, ballroom and square dancing, bridge, gardening, piloting, quilting, and Scouting, to name a few.
The recreational opportunities are boundless, the views unforgettable and the small-town charm captivating. Along the lakefront are seven public boat-launching sites and many private marinas. Water activities comprise of power boating, canoeing, sailing, parasailing, swimming, water skiing, wakeboarding and jet skiing. Smith Mountain Lake is also a place for catching an incredible number of fish. Opportunities on land include golfing, hiking, picnicking, camping, hunting, sightseeing, shopping, antiquing and relaxing. Campers will find numerous campgrounds as well as Smith Mountain Lake State Park, and a 1,500-acre wildlife preserve. Waterfront restaurants dot the area and offer a wide variety of foods to choose from.
Residents of both counties in Smith Mountain Lake enjoy excellent libraries, cultural and art events, museums, churches, service clubs, historic attractions and more. The area is even home to its own 3,900-foot runway airport for private planes in Moneta located on the eastern side of the lake in Bedford County.
Franklin County Public Schools serve more than 7,000 students, kindergarten through 12th grade. There are 11 elementary schools, two middle schools, a technology and career center and a high school. The Bedford County School District provides education to area school children grades K-12. There are 15 elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools and a technology center. Special programs for academically gifted and handicapped students are available.
The Bedford Science and Technology Center offers an outstanding vocational education program to area students including drafting technology, electricity, electronics, business data processing and automotive technology. The center works in cooperation with local businesses and industries as well as Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg to develop and enhance curriculum.
Area colleges include Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke and Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville and Ferrum College, a private four-year liberal arts college. Other institutions of higher learning are located nearby in Lynchburg and Roanoke including Lynchburg College, Randolph-Macon Women's College, Liberty University, Sweet Briar College, Salem College, Roanoke College and Hollins College. Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University are located in Lexington within an hour's drive and the University of Virginia at Charlottesville and Virginia Tech at Blacksburg are each within two hours' drive.
While the population of Smith Mountain Lake is listed at around 14,000, more than 600,000 live within a 40-mile radius. Cities within an hour or less commuting distance include Roanoke, Salem, Vinton, Bedford, Lynchburg, Rocky Mount, Martinsville and Danville. Two hospitals are within 19 miles of Smith Mountain Lake, with major facilities within 45 minutes in Roanoke and Lynchburg. Lifeguard helicopter service is only minutes away. For minor emergencies, there are immediate care facilities nearby.
This area of Virginia has long been known for its great natural beauty, colorful countryside and majestic lakes. The Blue Ridge Parkway, a scenic highway extending 400 plus miles along the crest of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, runs through the Roanoke area, just a few miles northwest of Smith Mountain Lake. The Parkway offers a "natural" vacation with breathtaking scenery, hiking on the historic Appalachian Trail, camping and picnic facilities. The Parkway extends from Shenandoah National Park through Virginia and North Carolina terminating near the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Since April 1939, over 600 million visits have been recorded.
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