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Giles County’s mysterious Mountain Lake rising once again

The backdrop for Hollywood's 'Dirty Dancing' is filling up with water after it completely dried out 12 years ago

GILES COUNTY, Va. – In the mountains of Giles County, a famous and mysterious lake that completely dried up years ago is coming back to life.

Mountain Lake Lodge was the backdrop for the 1987 Hollywood classic movie Dirty Dancing. However, about 12 years ago, the lake dried up completely.

This summer, Mountain Lake is coming back to life and has risen to about one-third full.

Mountain Lake in Giles County is about one-third full and seems to be holding its water levels. The lake completely dried out 12 years ago.
Mountain Lake in Giles County is about one-third full and seems to be holding its water levels. The lake completely dried out 12 years ago. (WSLS)

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” said Jenifer Stevens, who traveled all the way from Cleveland, Ohio to live out her teenage dream. “Pretty much the entire summer of 13 years old, I watched that movie 2-3 times a day.”

Amy Sung and Ken Concannon traveled from Fairfax, Virginia with their four children for their family vacation.

“She’s already planning the next trip in the fall,” said Concannon.

“We want to come back,” said Sung.

Scientists studied the lake bed and discovered it actually hits a major low about every 400 years. It rises and falls in a natural cycle and it’s the only lake of its kind in the world.

The lodge’s general manager, Heidi Stone, said it’s still a mystery where the water goes. After a wet spring, employees noticed the lake fill up drastically.

”Certainly more water was going in than was going out through those porous holes that are in the bottom of the lake. And we’re thrilled it’s just holding right now at about ⅓ full.”

Stone said that the dry lake does not turn tourists away. Between the new pool and hot tub, and other outdoor adventures, she said it’s the perfect socially-distant vacation spot for families during COVID-19.

“We’re actually busier this month this year than we were last year at this time, if you can actually believe that,” said Stone. “Mountain Lake has been doing great for several years.”

With or without the lake, guests said they still plan to return.

“The lake is a nice bonus, but I don’t think if it went away it would stop me from coming back,” said Stevens.

Mountain Lake Lodge is in desperate need of employees to keep up with the high demand because so many guests are visiting this summer.


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