The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates this 50,000 acre reservoir and an additional 55,000 acres of surrounding land. In the 1950's, Kerr Reservoir, also called Buggs Island Lake, was constructed primarily to provide for flood control and hydropower generation. The 900 miles of wooded shoreline stretch across three counties in Virginia and three in North Carolina. Along this shoreline you can find opportunities to boat, fish, camp, swim, picnic, hike, and hunt. Four campgrounds are operated by the Corps of Engineers, seven by the North Carolina State Parks and two by the Virginia State Parks. These campgrounds provide tent and trailer camping at both primitive and water/electric sites with boat ramps, bath facilities, beaches, playgrounds and hiking trails. In addition to campgrounds, the Corps of Engineers also operates several other day-use facilities for boat launching, swimming and picnicking. Intensive wildlife management techniques are employed in twenty-six developed areas, consisting of over 10,000 acres of land. These areas provide opportunities for hunting, hiking, and wildlife watching. All project lands are open to hunting with appropriate state licenses, except developed recreation areas, or unless otherwise posted. The reservoir provides habitat for many game fish species. Kerr Reservoir is widely known for large-mouth bass and striped bass fishing. Resident and non-resident fishing licenses from Virginia or North Carolina are recognized on all reservoir waters.
The Visitor Assistance Center at John H. Kerr Reservoir is located adjacent to the Dam, next to North Bend Park. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:00am until 4:30 pm except for Holidays it is closed. The Joseph S. J. Tanner II Environmental Education Center is just down the road at the intersection of Mays Chapel Road and VA Route 4 (which leads across the Dam). The Tanner Center opens the first weekend in April from 9:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. (weekends only). Memorial Day through Labor Day it opens Thursday through Sunday. After Labor Day we revert back to weekends only through the last weekend in October. The Powerhouse, located down the hill in the Tailrace Park area, is currently closed to the public.
Virtual Tour of John H. Kerr Reservoir
John H. Kerr Reservoir Map
Buoy Locations for North Carolina and Virginia