About Summersville Lake
The largest lake in the state


Visitors are drawn to the lakes rolling hill, cascading cliffs and 60 miles of shoreline. As the largest lake in the state, Summersville Lake attracts visitors with all kinds of wish lists. Though their vacation goals differ, they all come away with the same impression of this reservoir: it's an ideal vacation spot, sure to exceed your expectations.

Each fall, starting the weekend after Labor Day, the Corps of Engineers begins to lower Summersville Lake 70 feet for flood control. The whitewater industry has worked closely with the Corp to coordinate the releases to optimize whitewater flows. Each spring, usually around the middle of March, the Corps begins to fill the lake.

Though it may seem out of the ordinary, diving is one of the lake's premier activities. The two main options are to rent your own boat or take a spot on one of the local dive shop's boats; whichever you choose, don't miss this unique opportunity. Skin Diver magazine calls Summersville Lake the "Little Bahamas of the East" due to its relatively warm waters, steep cliffs that disappear below the lake's surface, and visibility of 20-45 feet. Though you won't see the neon offerings of the Bahamas, you will get a front row seat to sunfish, walleye, bass, and whiskered catfish circling around you.

This beautiful lake offers spectacular scenery, not just in the green summer months, but in autumn, when the leaves begin to change. Imagine deep sapphire skies, green emerald grasses, and distant mountains perfectly crowned by deep red, orange, and yellow leaves. It's a special site, especially from your perch on a cliff plateau overlooking the lake. Such beauty is hard to find, so bring your camera and spend some time to properly explore and search for the perfect view.

Normal summer pool elevation of Summersville Lake is 1,652 feet above sea level. The Corps of Engineers lowers water levels from October through March in anticipation of winter snows and spring rains. The lake's winter pool elevation is 1,575 feet above sea level to provide maximum space for storage of floodwaters.



  • Every 10 years the lake is lowered an additional 55’ for inspection of the dam.

  • The Summersville Lake Project was built under the supervision of the Army Corps of Engineers between 1960 and 1966 at a cost of nearly 48 million dollars

  • By the end of 1974 it had paid for itself by prevented flood damages in the Gauley and Kanawha River areas estimated at almost 67 million dollars

  • The dam is on Gauley River near the town of Summersville in Nicholas County, WV, and controls a drainage area of 803 square miles

  • Summersville is the second largest rock-fill dam in the eastern United States.

  • The dam is 390 feet high (about as tall as a 40-story building), 2,280 feet long and is made up of 12 million cubic yards of earth and rock

  • During summer, the lake is raised to elevation 1,652 feet above sea level which provides 2,790 surface acres of water for recreation