Lake Lanier is located in the foothills of the Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains. The Corp of Engineers began construction on the lake and Buford Dam in 1946. The government purchased rights to more than 56,000 acres of land, culminating in a 38,000-acre reservoir. The reservoir was dubbed Lake Sidney Lanier in 1956. Approximately 700 miles of shoreline surround the water, including more than 100 islands situated on the lake. Plenty of swimming awaits visitors at 46 designated swimming areas.
Campgrounds with Designated Swimming Areas
Several campgrounds surrounding Lake Lanier offer campers swimming beaches. Usually a two-day stay is required and reservations should be made at least two days in advance. Buford Dam Park and Campground is only open Thursday through Sunday, except for Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day. The fee to swim at the beach is $4 per vehicle or $1 per pedestrian, as of 2011. Picnic areas are available for the price of admission, as well as a rental fee of $90 for shelters. No pets are allowed in the park. Bolding Mill Park, Duckett Mill and Sawnee campgrounds all offer picnic areas, boat ramps near the swim area and showers. Pets are allowed.
Many parks are open for daily swimmers. Burton Mill Park is located on Yacht Club Road and appeals to swimmers, as well as walkers, as a walking trail meanders through the woods. Clarks Bridge Park is located in Gainesville and features a swimming platform at the designated swimming area. After swimming, rent a canoe or kayak and follow the rowing course of the 1996 Olympics. Holly Park, located off the Old Thompson Bridge Road, includes a large swim beach and a ramp perfect for small boats. Keith's Bridge Park offers a secluded beach over the walkway. After swimming, host a party at the large picnic area. Van Pugh South Park is unique because visitors are encouraged to bring tents and campers for day use, but overnight camping is not permitted. The cost for vehicles is $10 per day. Even though there is not a designated swim area, beaches await waders.
Lake Lanier Islands Beach and Water Park
Lake Lanier Beach and Water Park is located about 30 minutes from Atlanta and offers a summertime beach and water park on the shores of Lake Lanier. More than a half-mile of sandy beach awaits swimmers. Admission to the beach is free and lifeguards are on duty. The water park is open daily from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m. Swimmers can purchase daily or season passes to ride more than a dozen water attractions. Rides include Raging River, Kiddie Lagoon and Wiggle Waves. WildWaves is the largest wave pool in Georgia. Outside food and beverages are not allowed on the beach or water park. However, numerous concessionaires are located on the premises.
The most important safety rule to follow at Lake Lanier is to swim only in designated areas. Although it is recommended that you know how to swim, wearing a life jacket allows non-swimmers the same enjoyment as experts. Be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty in most of the designated swim areas. Keep a close watch on children. Watch the weather forecast and be aware of thunderstorm warnings. Get out of the water immediately if you hear thunder or see lightning and head for shelter, such as a hard-topped car or safe building. Wait at least 30 minutes until you return to the water.
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