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TVA Nickajack Dam and Reservoir

Natural Area, Lake, River, or Waterfall
Nickajack Dam spilling – TVA

ADA Accessibility Notes

ADA accessibility available at fishing pier, restrooms, water fountain.

TVA Nickajack Dam in southeast Tennessee is named after an Indian village that was once home base to the Chickamaugan confederation in the late 1700s. Nickajack Dam is located in Marion County, TN approximately 17 miles west of Chattanooga.

Commodities passing through the Nickajack lock include grain, pulpwood, wood chips, soybean oil, salt, petroleum, steel products and coal.

For more information about TVA dams, 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 Chattanooga: Take US-24 west and exit 158; turn left. Follow signs to Nickajack Dam Reservation/Shellmound Campground. The pavilion is adjacent to Shellmound Campground. To get to the south side of the dam and fishing pier take exit 161; turn left onto TN-156, then right onto TVA Powerhouse Road.

Pet Friendly Notes

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

Recreational Opportunities

Nickajack Cave is important habitat for migrating gray bats (Mytotis grisescens), an endangered species; they use the cave during the spring and summer to give birth and raise their young. At dusk, between late April and early October, the sky darkens as thousands of bats emerge from the mouth of the cave to feed. Many people travel by boat to experience this sight but the bats can also be seen from the observation platform at Mapleview Recreation Area (off TN-156). The cave is gated for the bat's protection.

Little Cedar Mountain Trail is perfect for those that want to explore. There is an abundance of wildflowers in the spring, an historic rock wall and great views of Nickajack Reservoir. While resting atop the bluff, listen carefully and you will hear the rumble of a tug pushing barges on the river below. Visit TVA's Trail webpage for more information.

A boat launching ramp is located on the north side below the dam and a fishing pier can be accessed from the parking lot on the south side below the dam.

TVA has a Group Pavilion located upstream of the dam, adjacent to Shellmound Campground. The pavilion is available on a first come basis. For more information about group pavilions, visit TVA's Day-Use Recreation Areas page.


Seasons Accessible

All Seasons; check with the City of New Hope for Mapleview Recreation Area’s seasonal operation (423-837-7487).



Visitor centers, trails, boat ramps, and canoe access points operated by TVA are provided to the public with no fee; Fees may be associated with the Mapleview Recreation Area.

Nearby Places