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TVA Fontana Dam and Reservoir

Natural Area, Lake, River, or Waterfall

ADA Accessibility Notes

ADA accessibility available at pavilion and visitor center.

Fontana Dam was built during World War II to provide electric power for the war effort. A town, housing some 5,000 people who worked around the clock in three shifts to build the dam, sprang up. What was once the company town is now a resort offering recreational activities such as boating, hiking, mountain biking, putt-putt and disc golf.

Fontana Dam's primary purpose was to provide power to ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America) in order to produce aluminum to build war planes for WWII and to Oak Ridge, TN for the purpose of uranium enrichment.

About half of Fontana Reservoir’s shoreline is in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park where the lake captures the sparkling water of mountain streams. Fishing, boating and swimming are all popular at Fontana, but it is perhaps most appreciated by wilderness hikers and backcountry campers.

For more information about Fontana Dam, visit

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. For more information about TVA and its mission of service to the Tennessee Valley, click here.

How to Get There

From Bryson City, NC, go west on U.S. Highway 74 toward Murphy, NC. After about 8.3 miles, turn right on NC Highway 28. Go north about 21.3 miles and turn right on County Road 1245 (Fontana Dam Road). Continue about 1.3 miles to the dam. The total driving distance from Bryson City is about 32 miles. Estimated travel time is about 45 minutes.

From Maryville, TN, follow U.S. Highway 129 South about 32 miles to the North Carolina state line. About three miles beyond the state line, turn left onto NC Highway 28 and go south about 10.6 miles to the dam. Total driving distance from Maryville is about 51 miles. Estimated travel time is about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets welcome but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6-feet. TVA is a partner ofLeave No Traceand requests that visitors follow Leave No Trace practices, including picking up after your pet.

Recreational Opportunities

Over the years TVA has transferred more than 55,000 acres of land surrounding Fontana Reservoir to other agencies for public use, including 10,400 acres that are now part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The U.S. Forrest Service received land that is now part of the Nantahala National Forest -- it’s Tsali Recreation Area has almost 40 miles of trails for horses, hikers and mountain bikers. Camping, hunting, swimming and fishing are also available.

The Appalachian Trail, which extends over 2000 miles from Georgia to Maine, crosses Fontana Dam. The hot showers available at the trail shelter on the dam reservation have led grateful hikers to dub it the "Fontana Hilton". The trail shelter also has a solar phone charging station.

For information about TVA trails, visit TVA's Trails webpage.


Seasons Accessible

All Seasons; the Visitor Center at the Dam is closed in the winter.



Visitor centers, trails, boat ramps, and canoe access points operated by TVA are provided to the public with no fee

Nearby Places