People relaxing on the beach area, with some even in the water, on the Lexington side. (Photos by P.J. Williams)

The Lake Murray Public Park opened once again to the public on April 5, and people are excited about returning to the sand and water. 

The park is a recreation area near Lexington, South Carolina, roughly 25 minutes from downtown Columbia.

The park has been opening every April since it first debuted in the mid-1980s.

Dominion Energy is responsible for managing the land around Lake Murray, according to the Dominion Energy website.

“The dam (over there) is used to generate power, so that’s the primary purpose of the dam” near Lexington that creates the lake, said Matthew Long, Dominion Energy spokesperson. “(As) part of that, we operate several parks alongside the shoreline, including this one, which we call Park Side One. … Most people call it the Park of Lake Murray.”

The park’s opening provides an opportunity for Columbia-area residents to enjoy the outdoors and warm weather at a beach closer to home.

There are two sides of Lake Murray Park.

The Lexington side features a large swimming beach with sand on the shore alongside picnic tables and shelters.

The Irmo side is open year-round and 24 hours a day. It features a boat launch, picnic facilities, fishing docks and restrooms.

The Lexington side is open Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Some residents visit the parks during their free time during the spring and summer months.

“Just depends on when I’m free and when (the) weather is nice,” said local resident Jonny Kidd.

The park also provides opportunities for the parents to push their children to become more active by going to the park and playing with other children.

“I think having the lake and being able for the kids to get out and play with other people (is) a nice experience and always a good time,” said Lorien Donald, a parent and resident in the Lexington area.

Both sides of the park share the same fees and season passess for all visitors. 

There are also two lots for visitors to park, one at each side of the park and each costing $5 cash, according to the Kidding Around website.

There are no on-duty lifeguards at the park despite it being a public park. But there is on-site security alongside a security station and an emergency phone for assistance.

Long urges visitors to be safe when entering the water since there aren’t any lifeguards.

“We urge people to be careful and make sure to swim at their own risk,” he said. “If you’re using the other park, be careful around the boats. Make sure to practice safe boating.”

The park is open now until Labor Day, Sept. 4.

One of several picnic shelters where large groups of people can relax and eat.

Dominion Energy, which manages the lake, urges people to take precautious if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

The Irmo side can get crowded with boats in good weather.