Find and book unique accommodations on Airbnb
Guests agree: these stays are highly rated for location, cleanliness, and more.
Straddling five counties on the border between Virginia and North Carolina, Lake Gaston is a getaway for anyone looking for remote lakefront recreation. Created in 1963 by a dam on the Roanoke River in the tiny town of Thelma, NC, the lake encompasses 20,000 acres and spans 34 miles, with more than 350 miles of shoreline. Yet given its sheer size, Lake Gaston can still feel like a locals’ secret. Stocked with game fish like striped and largemouth bass, sunfish, and several varieties of catfish, it draws in-the-know anglers as well as watersport enthusiasts who are lured by its warm, clear waters. Water skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, jet skiing — just about anything you can do on a placid body of water, you can do in Lake Gaston. Only you won’t have to fight off the crowds.
Located between Raleigh, NC, and Richmond, VA, Lake Gaston is conveniently accessible from the airports in those two cities. About an hour and 45 minutes northeast of Lake Gaston, Richmond International Airport (RIC) hosts all major U.S. airlines and serves major hubs on the Eastern Seaboard as well as the Midwest. About 90 minutes southwest of the lake is Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), servicing most major airlines. Because the lake covers such a wide region, car travel is imperative for navigating the area, and having a boat is almost a prerequisite. (Rentals are numerous on the main lake.) The handful of towns surrounding Lake Gaston — including Littleton and Roanoke Rapids in North Carolina — are too small to support public transportation, and ride shares are scarce. Parking in these small towns is free and ample.
True to the surrounding region, Lake Gaston experiences warm and comfortable summers and mild winters. During the summer months, temperatures average in the mid- to high 80s Fahrenheit during the day, then drop to the 60s after sunset. Humidity can be quite high in summer (though lake breezes help), and the season also welcomes lots of rain. Winter is typically mild, with daytime temperatures in the 50s. Overnight lows hover around freezing, though seldom drop much below the low 30s. Winter is fairly dry, though there’s occasionally a dusting of snow. During the spring, temperatures are comfortable — typically in the mid-60s to high 70s, falling to the high 30s to low 50s at night. Fall can be warm — sometimes in the low 80s — though most days are in the 70s and 80s, dropping to the 40s and 50s after sunset.
A quick 10-minute drive from the center of Lake Gaston is Littleton, NC, a charming small town with a handful of shops and services. If you’re making a day trip, be sure to stop by the famous Cryptozoology & Paranormal Museum — AKA the Bigfoot Museum.
Less than 30 minutes south of Lake Gaston is Medoc Mountain State Park, with its 10 miles of well-kept trails, canoe and kayak landings, and a lovely picnic area in a meadow. The park encompasses several creeks, including Fishing Creek, which is said to be one of the cleanest in the region.
Even if you skip the museum, this beautiful trail about a half-hour east of Lake Gaston makes for a worthy detour, especially if you have mountain bikes in tow. Spanning 7.5 miles between Roanoke Rapids and River Falls Park in nearby Weldon, the trail parallels the canal’s original towpath and offers photo opportunities along the way, including the historic Chockoyotte Creek aqueduct.