Lake Marion Information

Lake Marion is South Carolina’s third largest lake. Its northern border is 35 miles south of Columbia and its southern tip is 45 miles south of Charleston. It covers 110,000 acres with 315 miles of shoreline with an average depth of 13 to 14 feet and a maximum depth of 76 feet. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) operates five Wildlife Management Areas (WMA) on Lake Marion, and the Santee State Park managed by South Carolina State Parks.

Lake Marion is located in the counties of Berkeley, Calhoun, Clarendon, Orangeburg, and Sumter. Lake Marion is considered South Carolina’s inland sea and consists of rolling farmlands, former marshes, and river valley landscape. The Wyboo Creek and the Santee River plus numerous tributaries and springs including Eutaw Springs feed Lake Marion. 

Lake Marion is owned and managed by the power company, Santee Cooper, and lies in a remarkably rural environment rich with flora and fauna. On Lake Marion’s northern border, Columbia is the nearest metroplex, and Charleston-North Charleston is its closest southern metroplex. I-26 runs straight along Lake Marion’s eastern border, I-95 cuts across its midsection, SC-45 follows its southern edge, and all other roads leading into Lake Marion’s beauty are rural South Carolina county roads. 

History of Lake Marion

The Santee Cooper Project in 1939 created Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie by the South Carolina Public Service Authority for the purposes of flood control and hydroelectric power. The lakes system of Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie utilizes 15,000 acres of federally managed land and water at the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. The SCDNR manages an additional 18,250 acres as WMAs. The creation of this lakes system was part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal to create jobs, improve navigation, and provide rural electricity. 

General Francis Marion was a countryman in the finest sense. They called him the Swamp Fox. The South Carolina Low Country where Lake Marion lies is famous for its cuisine and its history for the realization of the US Constitution. From the Smithsonian Magazine: 

“Marion, known as the "Swamp Fox," invited the British soldier to share breakfast. According to a legend that grew out of the much-repeated anecdote, the British officer was so inspired by the Americans' resourcefulness and dedication to the cause—despite their lack of adequate provisions, supplies or proper uniforms—that he promptly switched sides and supported American independence. Around 1820, John Blake White depicted the scene in an oil painting that now hangs in the United States Capitol. In his version, the primly attired Redcoat seems uncomfortable with Marion's ragtag band, who glare at him suspiciously from the shadows of a South Carolina swamp.”

Fishing Lake Marion

Lake Marion grows enormous aquatic life. Largemouth, striped and white bass, bream, black and white crappie, blue, channel, flathead, and white catfish, chain pickerel, and redear sunfish are present in abundant numbers. Other species include bluegill, flier, green sunfish, pumpkinseed, redbreast, and spotted sunfish, black, hybrid striped, smallmouth, spotted, and redeye bass, rainbow, brook, and brown trout, sauger, yellow perch, and walleye. 

Native aquatic vegetation on the shorelines and backwater sloughs provide a natural habitat for largemouth bass, pickerel, and bream. Anglers will find thousands of stumps, dead tree trunks, and live cypress trees which serve as excellent fish cover especially for crappie, bream, and catfish. Head out to open water for stripers in the winter and largemouth in the summer. The biggest catfish in the south are everywhere year round. Fishing from the shore on Lake Marion is an adventure in itself because of the wildlife. The alligators are huge.

Check the regulations set forth by the SCDNR for fishing limits. Grab your fishing poles, tackle, and bait, and come on out to Lake Marion for the best catch you can find. Load up your boat to head out to open waters, or if you want to navigate the stumpy sloughs, be sure to take caution. It is best for first timer anglers on Lake Marion to hire a fishing guide. They know the stumps and they know where the fish are hiding. Find a professional fishing guide today on our Lake Marion Fishing Guides page. 

Boating on Lake Marion

Lake Marion is called South Carolina’s inland sea for a reason. Boaters must take caution because of underwater hazards. Navigational aids are positioned throughout Lake Marion. There is a 122-mile system that allows boats to safely navigate Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie. This route is marked from where the Santee River flows into Lake Marion to the lock at the Pinopolis Dam on Lake Moultrie

Odd numbered, green, square markers define the port side of the Santee River channel, and even numbered, red, triangular markers define the starboard side of the channel. After that, the best boating trip ever can be had on Lake Marion. You can boat from Lake Marion to Charleston, South Carolina. Boaters on Lake Marion can navigate from Lake Marion through a canal/river/lock system all the way to the Intracoastal Waterway, Charleston Harbor, and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Boaters can have breakfast at one of the fine eateries at Lake Marion, and lunch in Charleston, a city rich in history with a big story to tell. You will find a few marinas scattered around Lake Marion, all with something to offer any pleasure boater or angler. Kayaking and canoeing are extremely popular here. Islands are everywhere. Lake Marion is one of the most beautiful lakes in the country to go boating on! 

Look at what Lake Marion boating services and marinas have to offer you on our Lake Marion Marinas page. 

Lake Marion Rental Cabins 

The haunting beauty of the bald cypress trees spun with Spanish moss against the sweeping majestic skyscapes on Lake Marion is calling you to rent a cabin or vacation home for your ideal sabbatical. So many options await you in the form of cabins, vacation home rentals, and cozy cottages. You can have your way with any one of these rentals.

These cabins and vacation homes sleep one to 20 people. They offer so many amenities and come with private docks, decks with grills, Wi-Fi, modern kitchens, and so much more. There are about 60 vacation home rentals on the market at any given time and cabin rentals at the parks on Lake Marion. Be sure to book your rental in advance. Check out this list of your ideal cabin, cottage, or home on our Lake Marion Rental Cabins page. 

Camping at Lake Marion

The campgrounds at Lake Marion are plentiful. It is possible to camp in an RV or a tent on almost every shore of Lake Marion. The first place to look at for camping is the Santee State Park which is a 2,500-acre park that opened in 1949 on the south shore of Lake Marion. This camp is open year round for tent, cabin, and RV camping, but so much more including hiking and biking trails with primitive camping or water/electric hookups. 

Private parks abound on Lake Marion, and the options are amazing. They offer game rooms, eateries, laundry facilities, boat rentals, swim beaches, climate controlled bath houses, general stores, bait, and tackle. Call one of these parks or campgrounds on our Lake Marion Campgrounds and RV Parks page. 

Hunting at Lake Marion

Duck or deer? Or alligator? What is your hunting passion? Every year, migrating waterfowl take full advantage of the shallow, open waters on Lake Marion for resting and feeding purposes. Duck hunting is king on Lake Marion. However, Whitetail deer, wild turkey, geese, waterfowl, boar, and alligator are yours for the taking. Just follow the South Carolina laws regulating hunting. Call a professional Lake Marion hunting guide today: hyperlink

Hiking at Lake Marion

Hiking, biking, or horsing around, you got it at Lake Marion. Take your feet, your wheels, or your horse. The most impressive trail is the Lake Marion Passage, a 33.9 mile point-to-point trail located near Santee, South Carolina. The Santee State Park offers five hiking trails. They are for easy to moderate skill levels. Dogs are welcome on a leash. 

These pine needle covered paths pass through mixed pine and hardwood forest draped with Spanish moss, but you can glimpse the lake and its numerous cypress trees. Follow the trails and take time to enjoy the wildflowers, buckeye, papaw, and wildlife including deer, rabbits, and snakes.

Lake Marion Weather

Lake Marion sees an average of 50 inches of rain per year, no snow, and 211 days of sunshine. The winter low in January is 36 degrees and a summer high in July of 92 degrees. April, May, and October are the most comfortable months for this region. Stay tuned in on our Lake Marion Weather Forecast page. 

Things to Do at Lake Marion

When you are in the South Carolina Low Country or its Midlands, the things to do are to relax and enjoy nature. Take in an afternoon of golfing at the Lake Marion Golf Course which describes itself as one of the best golf experiences in Santee and the surrounding area. It offers a free practice range and optional unlimited replay. 

Take a ride with Fisheagle Wildlife Tours, and see the wildlife while Captain Rick entertains you with unforgettable history. You will find restaurants on the east and west sides of Lake Marion on I95. Charleston, South Carolina, is a short drive away with a wealthy history. Most of all, enjoy the beauty of Lake Marion in peace with its natural beauty.

Explore your options on our What To Do At Lake Marion page. 

Lake Marion Housing

There is plenty of room to buy a dream home on Lake Marion. Lake Marion real estate market is the fifth largest in the state for both lake homes and lake lots. The average modern home sells for $240,000. The Lake Marion market averages 220 lake homes for sale and 220 lake lot and parcels listings. The closest metro areas are Columbia on the northwest and Charleston on the south. 

There are Walmart Supercenters surrounding Lake Marion in Orangeburg, Sumpter, and Manning. Sumpter is the nearest commercial area on Lake Marion’s eastern side. Education is provided by public and private institutions, but these schools are not close to the waterfront properties.  

Explore your options on our Lake Marion Real Estate page. 

Zip Codes 

Berkeley County: 29410, 29430, 29431, 29434, 29436, 29445, 29450, 29453, 29461, 29468, 29469, 29472, 29476, 29479, 29483, 29486, 29492, and 29564.

Calhoun County: 29135

Clarendon County: 29001, 29041, 29056, 29102, 29111, 29143, 29148, and 29162.

Orangeburg County: 29018, 29038, 29039, 29047, 29048, 29059, 29107, 29112, 29113, 29115, 29116, 29117, 29118, 29133, 29142, 29163, and 29432.

Sumpter County: 29150, 29154, 29153, 29040, 29128, 29168, 29125, 29080, 29151, 29152, 29030, 29104,  29051, and 29062.

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Lake Marion Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Lake Marion Weather Forecast


Partly Sunny

Hi: 85

Saturday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 63


Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 86

Sunday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 66


Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 89

Monday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 67


Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 91

Tuesday Night

Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 69

Lake Marion Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 6/1: 2.12 (-614.88)

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