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Tennessee Dams

Throughout the state, you will discover many beautiful Tennessee Dams. Each one offers breathtaking views of nature as well as fishing and boating opportunities.
tennessee dams reservoirs
Douglas Dam (Douglas Reservoir); image by Jeaneane Payne
East Tennessee Dams

Boone Reservoir is located on the South Fork Holston River in northeast Tennessee. The reservoir is named for frontiersman Daniel Boone, who played a major role in the history of the Tennessee area.

Boone Reservoir features a swimming area above the dam and a boat ramp including a courtesy pier for safe, convenient boat launching and retrieval. Water skiing and fishing are popular pastimes at Boone.

: Interstate 81 to exit 59. Take Highway 36 South to Highway 75 and turn left toward Tri-Cities Airport. Go approximately 1 mile, cross the Holston River and turn right at the Reservoir sign.


Cherokee Dam is on the Holston River in Jefferson City, Tennessee, 52 miles upstream from the point at which the Holston and French Broad Rivers converge to form the Tennessee.

Cherokee Reservoir attracts millions of recreational visitors each year. Along its shorelines are public access areas, county and municipal parks, commercial boat docks and resorts, a state park, and a state wildlife management area. There are many tent and trailer sites for campers.

Fishing is popular at Cherokee, and the reservoir’s fish population is very similar to that found in other east Tennessee reservoirs—black bass, sauger, walleye, crappie, various sunfish, and the usual rough-fish species.

Cherokee Reservoir has a self-service campground. 41 campsites with water and electric hookups, rest rooms with heated showers and flush toilets, children’s play equipment, picnic tables and grills, group pavilion available by reservation, swimming beach, boat ramps above dam and below dam, lake and river fishing, paved walking trail, bird-watching.

Directions: From Jefferson City go 1.5 miles west on US 11E, then follow signs 4.5 miles north to Cherokee Dam Reservation.

Chickamauga Reservoir is on the Tennessee River just north of Chattanooga. The reservoir stretches 59 miles upriver from the dam to Watts Bar Dam.

Chickamauga Reservoir is named for a tribe of Native Americans that broke away from the Cherokee Nation in the 1700s. They lived in villages along North Chickamauga Creek, which joins the river just below Chickamauga Dam. The reservoir attracts millions of outdoor enthusiasts each year for fishing, boating, and swimming. There are boat ramps on the lake and canoe access on North Chickamauga Creek.

The Big Ridge Small Wild Area is a 200-acre upland hardwood forest situated on a high ridge above the north shore of the reservoir at the dam. An easy 1.3-mile loop trail leads through the forest. Spring wildflowers include bloodroot, toothwort, larkspur, trillium, and mayapple.

Directions: From I-75, take exit 4, Highway 153. Take exit 6, Amnicola Highway and follow the signs to Chickamauga Lake.

Douglas Dam is on the French Broad River Dandridge, Tennessee. The reservoir extends 43 miles upriver from the dam through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.

Douglas Reservoir is located among the rolling uplands of the Great Valley of east Tennessee. Set against the backdrop of the lush, green Smoky Mountain foothills, Douglas attracts two million recreation visitors a year. Picnicking, camping, boating, and fishing are all popular activities at the reservoir.

Douglas and other TVA reservoirs built during World War II made a historic contribution, providing hydropower to drive the war effort. The reservoir remains an integral unit in the overall water control system in the Tennessee Valley.

Under normal conditions, Douglas stores spring rainwater for release during the dry summer and fall months to maintain adequate depth for navigation on the Tennessee River and to generate electricity. Water levels begin dropping in late summer to provide space for the next spring’s rains.

Birdwatchers enjoy the fall migration of shore birds, wading birds, and other waterfowl that flock to Douglas from late July to early October. The birds rest and feed in the muddy shoreline and areas of shallow water exposed as the level of the reservoir is lowered to prevent spring flooding downstream.

Douglas Dam has a self-service campground (423-587-5600). 65 campsites, 61 with water and electric hookup and two handicapped-accessible sites. Rest rooms with heated showers and flush toilets, dump station, picnic tables, swimming beach, boat ramp, walking trail, wildlife viewing area, bird-watching.

Directions: From Interstate 40 take exit 407. Go South on Hwy. 66, then 3.5 miles east on Hwy. 139, then 0.5 miles south on Hwy. 338 to the pavilion.

Ft. Loudon

Fort Loudoun Reservoir takes its name from the 18th-century British fort built on a nearby site during the French and Indian War. The fort was named for John Campbell, the fourth Earl of Loudoun, commander of British forces in North America at the time.

Fort Loudoun is a popular recreation destination, known for bass fishing, boating and birdwatching. The tailwater area immediately below the dam is an excellent site for viewing a variety of waterbirds, including herons, cormorants, gulls, osprey and bald eagles.

Find Fort Loudoun Dam at 1280 City Park Dr., Lenoir City, Tenn

Ft. Patrick Henry

Fort Patrick Henry is named after the colonial fort, also known as Long Island Station, that was established nearby at the site of present-day Kingsport, Tenn. The dam was built primarily for hydropower, but it is also used to regulate the flow of water downstream to ensure a reliable supply of water for local industry and for cooling water at TVA’s John Sevier Fossil Plant.

Fort Patrick Henry Reservoir is a popular site for fishing, particularly rainbow trout, bluegill, bass and crappie. Warrior’s Path State Park is located on the reservoir.

Find Fort Patrick Henry Dam at 3657 Ft. Henry Dr., Kingsport, Tenn.

Melton Hill

The area around Melton Hill offers year-round camping plus sheltered picnic tables and pavilions. Two boat ramps - one below the dam and one above - give boaters access to Watts Bar Reservoir as well as Melton Hill Reservoir. Roads on both sides of the river are popular for walking, jogging or bike riding. Game fish in the reservoir include sauger, crappie and bass.

Find Melton Hill Dam at 1280 City Park Dr., Lenoir City, Tenn.


Nickajack Reservoir extends 46 miles upstream from the dam to Chickamauga Dam. The reservoir offers wide expanses of water and the spectacular scenery of the Tennessee River Gorge, known as the Grand Canyon of Tennessee.

Boat-launching ramps and fishing berms are located on both sides of the river below the dam, and a concrete fishing pier with footbridges and a wheelchair ramp is available. TVA camping and picnicking facilities are also available.

Find Nickajack Dam on Hwy. 156 in New Hope, Tenn.

Raccoon Mountain
The area around Raccoon Mountain is a state-designated Wildlife Observation Area. The mountaintop is home to whitetail deer, woodchucks, gray foxes and, of course, raccoons. The most compelling wildlife attraction of the area is a large wintering population of bald eagles, which can be sighted from the overlook as they hunt in the woods and waters. The adjacent day-use area offers more than 28 miles of mountain biking trails — with names like Live Wire, Megawatt, Switch Yard and High Voltage — for riders of all abilities, as well as a bike-washing station. The trails are open to hikers as well.

Directions: From Chattanooga: Go west on Interstate 24 to exit 175 (Browns Ferry Road). Turn right on Browns Ferry Road toward Lookout Mountain. After about 0.9 miles, turn left on Elder Mountain Road. Go about 1.8 miles and turn left on TVA Access Road. Continue about 1.2 miles to the visitor center. Total driving distance from Chattanooga is about eight miles. Drive time is about 20 minutes.

South Holston
The South Fork Holston River is home to an annual spring migration of white bass. Locals say that when the serviceberry and dogwood bloom, the white bass run. It is also home to a world-class trout fishery in the river below the dam. A footbridge from the parking lot below the dam leads to Osceola Island and its one-mile-loop wildlife trail. Early in the morning or late in the evening are the best times to sight waterfowl, deer and other wildlife.

Find South Holston Dam at 918 South View Dam Dr., Bristol, Tenn.

Tellico is known for recreation, and includes several areas that feature boat ramps, day-use areas, fishing and campgrounds. The reservoir offers excellent trout and bass fishing. On Tellico’s banks is a reconstruction of the original Fort Loudoun, which was built by the British during the French and Indian War. It was named for John Campbell, the fourth Earl of Loudoun, commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America at the time. Another nearby historic attraction is the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, honoring the genius who invented the Cherokee alphabet.

Watts Bar
The reservoir is popular for boating, fishing, swimming, camping and other outdoor activities. A scenic overlook near the dam provides visitors with a panoramic view of the reservoir and surrounding countryside.

Find Watts Bar Dam on TN Hwy. 68 in Spring City, Tenn.

Wilbur Dam on the Watauga River in northeast Tennessee is located in some of the most beautiful country in the Tennessee River watershed. The reservoir is surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest and flanked by the Appalachian Mountains. Even in the dog days of summer, Wilbur remains cool — with a constant breeze blowing through the Watauga River gorge.

Middle Tennessee Dams

ocoee dam
Ocoee 2 Dam; Image courtesy of TVA

Great Falls
The area surrounding Great Falls Reservoir is a scenic wilderness with numerous waterfalls, including the one that gives the reservoir its name. Whitewater rapids below the dam are world-renowned for kayaking and canoeing and have hosted national and international paddling events.

Nearby Rock Island State Park offers hiking, camping, swimming and boating on Center Hill Lake. There is a boat ramp above the dam on Great Falls Reservoir, an old mill site on the river below the dam and spectacular fishing in the scenic gorge of the Caney Fork River.

Find Great Falls Dam at 1778 Great Falls Rd., Rock Island, Tenn.


Normandy Reservoir attracts bass anglers, campers and boaters from a wide area. Barton Springs Recreation Area on the south shore of the reservoir is particularly popular.

The Duck River watershed is one of the most biologically diverse river systems in the nation. Over 500 species of fish, insects and other aquatic life inhabit the ecosystem, including two species of mussels — the Cumberland monkeyface and the birdwing pearly — on the endangered species list.

Ocoee 1

The Ocoee, one of the top 10 whitewater rivers in the country, was the whitewater venue for the 1996 Olympics. In 1993, TVA built a 300- by 30-foot model of a section of the river to guide the U.S. Forest Service in constructing the Olympic whitewater course. (This model is located near Ocoee Dam No. 1.) The river is open to public rafting; a number of commercial outfitters supply equipment and organize whitewater rafting trips on the Ocoee River. The U.S. Forest Service operates campgrounds on Parksville Reservoir in the beautiful Cherokee National Forest, and visitors can also stay at a commercially run inn on the reservoir.

Find Ocoee Dam No. 1 at 19142 TN Hwy. 64 E., Benton, Tenn.

Ocoee 2
The Ocoee ranks as one of the top 10 whitewater rivers in the country. Water is diverted from generation and allowed to flow over the dam on selected days to provide for whitewater rafting downstream of the dam. Rafting is the big recreation activity near Ocoee Dam No. 2. A number of commercial outfitters supply equipment and organize whitewater rafting trips in the area.

Ocoee 3

The Ocoee River is a favorite of whitewater enthusiasts from around the world. A section of the river below Ocoee Dam No. 3 was the whitewater venue for the 1996 Olympics.

Tims Ford

The dam protects a wide diversity of aquatic life. A cold water trout fishery is supported upstream, and downstream warm-water sport fish thrive — as do many endangered species.

Surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest and flanked by the Appalachian Mountains, Watauga Reservoir is one of the most scenic in the Tennessee River watershed. It offers access to the Appalachian Trail. Below Watauga Dam is a wildlife observation area where visitors have a chance to view unique species of wintering waterfowl, including buffleheads, mallards, American black ducks, gadwalls, ring-necked ducks, lesser scaups and other ducks including canvasbacks, redheads and scoters.

West Tennessee Dams


Pickwick Landing
Pickwick Reservoir has excellent sport-fishing areas, including the Wilson Dam tailwater at the upper end of the reservoir, noted for record-size smallmouth bass and catfish. Pickwick is also popular for boating and water skiing. A large campground is located below the dam and includes 92 sites with water and electric (five are accessible sites) and eight tent sites without utilities.

Find Pickwick Landing Dam on TN Hwy. 128 S. in Pickwick, Tenn.

Piersol Lake
Piersol Lake Dam is a dam located just 8.1 miles from Millington, in Shelby County, in the state of Tennessee, United States, near Locke, TN. The dam is situated on the Tribbrinkley Bayou River. Piersol Lake (32 acre) provides good fishing for bass, bluegill and catfish. Black bass, bluegill and redear sunfish restrictions do not apply on Piersol Lake.

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