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Join the loons for a wintertime tour of Lake Jocassee

It may be cold outside, but baby there’s nothing like a wintertime tour of Lake Jocassee.

The hardy breed of bass fishermen and the loons are among the few on Lake Jo this time of year, according to Brooks and Kay Wade, owners of Jocassee Lake Tours. But they say wintertime offers a unique look at the lake that lies smack dab in the middle of the Jocassee Gorges in Oconee County.

“So many folks who have retired here, leave for the winter,” Brooks Wade said. “I counsel all in my path to stay just one winter, and it won’t be your last. The loons will see to that.”

This time of year, the waterfalls are booming, the lake water is cold, and the surface of the lake is busy with the many birds of winter. Lake Jocassee is believed to have the largest population of loons in winter of any inland location in the Southeast. Joining them are horned grebes and ring billed gulls, as well as both resident and winter migrant bald eagles.

“One of the great things about this area of South Carolina is its temperate climate, so a cruise on a beautiful mountain lake like Jocassee is a wonderful way to spend the day,” said Tim Todd, Executive Director of Discover Upcountry Carolina Association.

Lake Jocassee sits at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a province of the southern Appalachian Mountains. At 9,000 acres and 385 feet deep, the reservoir was created by the state of South Carolina in partnership with Duke Energy in 1973. The lake serves as the watershed for 935 square miles and is the start of the Savannah River.

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One of the beauties of the area is that it lies in the middle of a region known as the Jocassee Gorges. A relatively small geographic area at about 50 miles across four rivers, Jocassee Gorges is considered by environmental organizations as one of the hotspots of biological diversity on the planet. In 2012, National Geographic named it one of the 50 last, great, wild places on earth.

Jocassee Lake Tours offers the following weekly tours:

Every Wednesday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Every Saturday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Every Sunday 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.

For more information, visit jocasseelaketours.com.

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