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TVA Watts Bar Dam and Reservoir

Natural Area, Lake, River, or Waterfall

ADA Accessibility Notes

ADA accessibility available at pavilion, restrooms, paved trail and below dam at fishing access

Watts Bar Reservoir is on the Tennessee River in east Tennessee. Watts Bar Dam, located about midway between Knoxville and Chattanooga, is one of nine TVA dams on the Tennessee River, second in line downstream from the confluence of the Holston and French Broad rivers.

Before TVA created Watts Bar and other reservoirs above Chattanooga, the city had one of the most serious flooding problems in the nation. Now the river that often threatened the city contributes to its economy as a major artery for barge traffic.

Thief Neck Island is the largest TVA managed island in the Tennessee River system, with over 70 acres. It is managed to enhance habitat for wildlife which includes periodically burning the vegetation.

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 Knoxville: Follow I-75 towards Chattanooga taking Exit 60; turn right on TN-68 towards Spring City - in about 16 miles you will arrive at Watts Bar Dam.

From Chattanooga: Follow I-75 towards Knoxville taking exit 60; turn left on TN-68 towards Spring City - in about 16 miles you will arrive at Watts Bar Dam.

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. Pets are not allowed in the beach area.

Recreational Opportunities

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. As many as 130 active osprey nests have been recorded on Watts Bar Reservoir, which is the highest concentration of nests along the reservoir system.

Whites Creek Small Wild Area has a 3.0 mile loop trail that offers views of the lake and opportunities to bank fish, observe wildlife and hike.

Fooshee Small Wild Area Trail offers a hiking experience where visitors hike through a dry upland chestnut-oak forest. The trail offers beautiful scenery where a lucky hiker might spot a nesting bald eagle! Note: Please keep 300’ between you and nesting eagles. Visit the TVA website for more about bald eagles in the Tennessee River Valley.

Forrest City Trail is TVA's first ADA equipped trails. It is a 0.3 miles paved loop trail located at Watts Bar Dam Day Use Area and has received the coveted National Recreation Trail designation. This trail meets all ADA standards.

For more information please visit TVA trails website here


Seasons Accessible

All seasons



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

Nearby Places