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Fontana Lake, North Carolina

Categories: Bodies of Water, Wildlife Areas, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.2/5 based on 30+ reviews on the web
Fontana Lake is a reservoir impounded by Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River located in Graham and Swain counties in North Carolina. The lake forms part of the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the northern border of part of the Nantahala National Forest. Depending on water levels, the lake is about 17mi long. The eastern end is the Tuckasegee River near Bryson City. The lake has many inlets into coves and many islands formed from former mountain peaks, especially near the eastern end. As with most dam-impounded lakes, the steep banks are exposed when water levels are low. Many towns were submerged shortly after the creation of Fontana Lake, such as Proctor and Judson.Short of a multi-day hike, Fontana Lake provides the only access into the most remote areas of the National Park. When the lake is at the normal summer level, a boat may be used to access remote trailheads such as Hazel Creek. From the observation tower on Clingmans Dome, on a clear day the lake can be seen nearly a mile below. While the maximum controlled elevation of the lake (top of dam gates) is 1710ft, the normal Summer surface elevation is 1703ft. NC 28 roughly parallels the southern shore of the lake and US 19 between Bryson City and Wesser/Lauada briefly skims an inlet at the extreme southeastern edge.
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  • July is best month to visit because in spring, as the water level is allowed to rise, hundreds of fallen trees and limbs float in the lake. In May and June, they can lurk just beneath the surface crea...  read more »
  • You can't control the weather or TVA but we were very surprised to see the water level so summer, drought-like conditions & TVA slowly draining the lake to a record low; fishing was extrem...  read more »
  • We passed Fontana Lake and noticed people using a rope swing and paddle-boards. We pulled off the road and found a large parking lot where Bryson City Outdoors were set up and renting stand-up paddle-...  read more »
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