Discover How Deep Lake Keowee Really Is

Sunset along the shoreline of Lake Keowee, SC.
© Patrick Jennings/iStock via Getty Images

Written by Claire Wilson

Published: February 18, 2024

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Resting at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this man-made reservoir in South Carolina encompasses 18,500 acres of water. Initially created by Duke Energy to provide for the area’s energy needs, residents rely on Lake Keowee as a clean water source and for recreational entertainment. Discover how deep Lake Keowee really is and how important this lake is to the area.

Where Is Lake Keowee Located on a Map?

Lake Keowee

Located in the greater Upstate of South Carolina, Lake Keowee is less than an hour’s drive west of Greenville.

© Jennings

In South Carolina, Lake Keowee is located in the northwestern part of the state. It straddles both Oconee County and Pickens County. Lake Keowee is only 46.9 miles southeast of the Nantahala National Forest and 35.8 miles west of Greenville. For reference, this is where you can find the lake on a map:

How Deep Is Lake Keowee?

Beautiful scenery on lake Keowee during the fall season.

If you were to measure how Lake Keowee’s depth at its deepest point, it would be about four-fifths the height of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.


With an average depth of 53 feet, Lake Keowee is 150 feet deep at its lowest point. That’s only four feet shorter than the Chicago Water Tower! In addition, Lake Keowee is 26 miles long and three miles wide at its broadest point. The shore runs 387 miles around Lake Keowee, and the lake has a surface elevation of 800 feet.

All in all, this is a very impressive lake that spans two counties.

History of the Lake

The Duke Power Company wanted to utilize Lake Keowee for hydroelectric power. In addition, the Duke Power Company planned to use the lake to cool the reactors at the Oconee Nuclear Generating Station. The construction of this man-made lake began in 1976 and was completed in 1971. Lake Keowee was formed by damming the Keowee River and Little River. However, the Keowee Hydro Station on the lake wouldn’t be operational until December 1973.

Today, the Keowee Hydro Station produces 157.5 megawatts from the outflows of Lake Keowee. The lake’s waters are used to cool three nuclear reactors at the Oconee Nuclear Generating Station. Besides energy needs, the lake also provides recreational opportunities. Residents enjoy kayaking, fishing, boating, and other water recreation on the lake.

Animals Around the Lake

North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) Reflected - captive animal

Commonly seen around Lake Keowee, beavers are the largest rodents in North America.

©Holly Kuchera/

Catfish, crappie, and largemouth bass mainly dominated the waters of Lake Keowee. However, after the introduction of the spotted bass fish, it overtook the rest. Some estimate that about 90 percent of bass in Lake Keowee are spotted bass.

There have also been sightings of river otters swimming along Lake Keowee. While river otters are common in South Carolina, having them in such a large body of water like Lake Keowee is unusual. They prefer clean, clear waters away from people, such as creeks. With how popular Lake Keowee is, it’s a surprise to spot a river otter there.

Some other animals you may spot around Lake Keowee are:

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About the Author

Claire Wilson is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, travel, and historic places and landmarks. Claire holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which she earned in 2010. A resident of Wisconsin, Claire enjoys hiking, visiting parks, and biking nature trails.

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