Although its full name is Lake Sidney Lanier, everyone knows it simply as Lake Lanier. The northern Georgia lake is actually a reservoir formed by the Buford Dam and is fed by the Chattahoochee and Chestatee Rivers. The lake was built by the US Army Corps of Engineers, for purposes of flood control and water supply. It consists of nearly 60 square miles, is 1,000 feet above sea level, and has nearly 700 miles of coastline.
The lake was the site of rowing and canoeing events during the 1996 Summer Olympics, and the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club holds many events on its waters. Over 7.5 million people visit the lake each year, and it is a popular destination for boaters or all kinds, even houseboats. Holiday Marina, located in Buford, GA, is the longest-standing landmark on the lake – it is one of the largest freshwater marinas in the world. Another of the largest marinas is also on Lake Lanier – Aqualand Marina in Flowery Branch. However, Port Royale Marina has been voted the best on Lake Lanier due to its location near Browns Bridge, known to be the calmest and most scenic area of the lake. While you can launch your boat from any of the marinas, there are also over 100 free boat ramps at the many parks along the shores of the lake.
As far as the best boating locations, the south end of the lake is by the far the most popular – it is closer to Atlanta and has wide open water. On a busy summer weekend, you’ll be one of thousands of boats launching into the south end. In contrast, the north end is relatively quiet, being a much further drive from metro Atlanta and fewer places to launch. In fact, once the summer is over you may find yourself alone on the lake on the north end.
If you go, be advised that all boats must have a Georgia Certificate of Boat Registration and a validation decal to legally operate on Georgia public waters. The only exceptions include sailboats under 12 feet in length and canoes, kayaks, rowboats, and rubber rafts that have no mechanical propulsion. For more information on boat registration laws, Click here.
One final note of caution – there are no speed limits on Lake Lanier. Be sure to follow all boating protocols and operate the vessel safely. As always, have your Sign & Glide membership card ready, just in case.