The Great Lakes of the South

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It’s no wonder that East Tennessee is called the Great Lakes of the South. Seven large lakes and many rivers enhance the valley of East Tennessee, including Fort Loudoun Lake, Tellico Lake, Watts Bar Lake, Melton Hill Lake, Norris Lake, Cherokee Lake and Douglas Lake.

Water covers more than 220,000 acres of East Tennessee. From Chattanooga to Tri-Cities, TVA’s system of rivers and reservoirs drains more than 20,000 square miles in East Tennessee. Together these bodies of water offer more than 4,500 miles of shoreline and unlimited recreational opportunities.

The Tennessee Valley has more than 1,000 square miles of water surface and 11,000 miles of public shoreline. TVA protects a million acres of public land to support wildlife, outdoor recreation and water quality. A wide range of recreation opportunities is available on the lakes of East Tennessee. Recreation activities include picnicking boating, fishing, swimming, camping, hiking, nature study, photograph, and hunting. Facilities to accommodate these activities are managed by national, state and local agencies. Private interests operate many boat docks, marinas, and resorts.

Search Cherokee Lake Listings – Cherokee Lake is a reservoir lake Northeast of Knoxville.  Morristown and Jefferson City  are cities along the shoreline of the lake.

Search Douglas Lake Listings – Douglas Lake is a reservoir lake near Sevierville and Dandridge.  Interstate 40 and 81 pass along it shoreline.

Search Fort Loudoun Lake Listings – Ft Loudoun Lake is a main channel lake lying between Knoxville and Maryville. The navigable lock system allows boaters access to the Gulf of Mexico.

Search Melton Hill Lake Listings – Melton Hill Lake is  Northwest of Knoxville.  Clinton, Oak Ridge and Knox County  are along the shore of the lake. The lake is an extension of the Clinch River and is navigable.

Search Norris Lake Listings – Norris Lake is a deep mountain reservoir Northeast of Knoxville.  Rocky Top, Norris, and La Follette  are towns along the shoreline of the lake.

Search Tellico Lake Listings -Tellico Lake is a pristine lake in the foothills of the Cherokee National Park.  Lenoir City, Vonore, and Tellico Village  are towns along the shoreline of the lake.

Search Watts Bar Lake Listings – Watts Bar Lake is a main channel lake on the Tennessee River.  Kingston and Spring City  are towns along the shoreline of the lake.



Recreation on area lakes with camping facilities are available. Lakes where camping is permitted area shown on individual TVA lake recreation maps which may be requested from TVA Maps, Haney Building 1A, 1101 Market Street, Chattanooga TN 37402-2801 or phone (423) 751-6277.

Camping information from TVA


Many reservoirs have one or more trails for backpacking, hiking, jogging, and bicycling, as well as quiet paths for restful walking and nature study. A Trail Guide to the Great Lakes of the South is available from TVA Map Sales, Haney Building 1A, 1101 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402-2801.


Tennesseans love to fish and we do it all year round. Fishing is permitted all year in TVA lakes. Best catches are generally reported in the spring and late fall. Each state sets it’s own creel limits and establishes its license requirements. Fishing and hunting licenses are issued by each state and are sold at many boat docks. Principal game fish are largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, white, and striped bass, crappie, walleye, sauger, and sunfish. Rainbow trout are present in several of the deep tributary lakes and below some of the dams.

Fishing License goes on sale March 1 each year, the beginning of prime fishing and are valid though the last day of February. You can purchase any license, except Sportmans License, Lifetime Sportmans License and the Lifetime Senior Citizens License, from most county court clerks, sporting goods stores, hardware stores, boat docks and all Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency regional offices.


Boating is a popular past time of TVA reservoirs, and encourages the public to practice water safety procedures. Significant water use hazards exist above and below TVA dams where waters often rush over spillways and through gates, lock culverts, and turbines. Many of these operations are automatic and occur without warning. Recreational boats may go through the navigation locks at dams.