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Claytor Lake is a 4,475 acre impoundment of the New River in southwestern Virginia's Blue Ridge Highlands region. Stretching out over 21 miles in Pulaski County, Claytor Lake was created in 1939 by the Appalachian Power Company for hydroelectric power, flood control, and recreation. The lake is named after W. Graham Claytor, former mayor of Roanoke, Virginia and vice president of Appalachian Power. Claytor was a head supervisor in the construction of the dam and lake, a position which secured his name a permanent place in history.
Though Claytor Lake enjoys an ideal location close to conveniences and Interstate 81, it also shares its shores with peaceful 475-acre Claytor Lake State Park. Upon entering the park, you'll find yourself surrounded by miles of well-groomed hiking trails, towering trees, scampering wildlife, and a gorgeous blue lake lapping at your feet. Claytor Lake State Park offers visitors two choices for over-nighting: If you're in the mood to rough it a bit, sleeping with the tree canopy as your roof and the stars as your lights, take advantage of their campsites, all equipped with fire rings and some with electricity and water hookups. RV sites are also available. For the less rustically-inclined, the park offers quaint lakefront cabins with 2-3 bedrooms, all furnishings, heat and a/c, a fully equipped kitchen, and many more amenities. For large groups, a 6-bedroom, handicapped accessible lodge is also available.
Once you're happily situated in your accommodations, it's time to begin exploring the reservoir and its bountiful natural resources. One of the most obvious choices is to run headfirst into the refreshing lake waters, an activity that all ages enjoy. If you are within the state park, you may also take advantage of the diving tower, which provides all who dare with an exhilarating adrenaline rush.
If you're a nature lover, Claytor Lake will not disappoint: the park offers three miles of walking trails that are open year-round. Take your camera along for the hike, and as you're walking the oak and hickory-lined paths, you'll witness white-tailed dear prancing through the forest, plump squirrels scavenging for their next acorns, and many other woodland creatures going about their business. Bird species that make the park their home include downy and red-bellied woodpeckers, northern flicker, eastern wood-pewee, great-crested flycatcher, blue jay, Carolina chickadee, tufted titmouse, Carolina wren, blue-gray gnatcatcher, red-eyed vireo, northern cardinal, chipping sparrow and American goldfinch. Swallows and purple martins take up residence along the lakeshore in late summer. Great blue herons, green herons, and eastern painted turtles can be spotted in the lake's quiet coves.
If you're itching for a little action, Claytor Lake is a great place for boating. On any warm summer day, you'll catch canoists and kayakers enjoying quiet coves, pontoon boaters leisurely taking in the views, and powerboaters zipping around with the breeze in their hair. In addition, you'll get a front row seat to the lake's many anglers, baiting their hooks and dropping in a line for smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, striped bass, catfish, and walleye that populate this attractive reservoir.
Claytor Lake is a spot that will entertain you for hours or let you relax at your whim. Whatever reasons you have for visiting will be embraced by the peaceful water and the quiet surrounding woods.
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