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TVA Wilbur Dam and Reservoir

Natural Area, Lake, River, or Waterfall

ADA Accessibility Notes

ADA accessibility available at fishing pier, picnic tables

Wilbur Dam is on the Watauga River in northeast Tennessee. The reservoir extends approximately two river miles upstream to Watauga Dam. Two hydroelectric generating units were installed at Wilbur Dam when it was completed in 1912. A third generating unit was added in 1926, and a fourth was added by TVA when it acquired the dam in 1945. The dam has four generating units with a net dependable capacity of 11 megawatts.

Wilbur is located in some of the most beautiful country in the Tennessee River watershed. The reservoir is surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest and flanked by the Appalachian Mountains. Even in the dog days of summer, Wilbur remains cool, with a constant breeze blowing through the Watauga River gorge.

For more information about TVA dams visit

TVA is a corporate agency of the United States, it receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity to business customers and local power distributors serving 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. But TVA is much more than a power company. Through its mission of service, the Tennessee Valley Authority improves the quality of life by providing safe, clean, reliable and affordable electricity; supporting communities through economic development; and carrying out environmental stewardship programs to ensure we all have a beautiful, unique place to live for generations.

How to Get There

From Johnson City:

Take Buffalo St to US-321 N/University Pkwy

Continue on US-321 N to Carter County. Take the TN-91 N exit from US-19E N

Continue on TN-91 N. Drive to Wilbur Dam Rd.

Pet Friendly Notes

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

Recreational Opportunities

Wilbur Reservoir is included on Tennessee's list of Wildlife Viewing Trails because each winter it is full of waterfowl. Buffleheads, grebes, and golden eyes are commonly seen here. In the spring, transient birds including warblers, thrushes and vireos can be seen. Beaver are common, too.

For a relaxing float down a lazy river, start below Wilbur Dam and travel 5 miles to Elizabethton, TN. During water releases from Wilbur Dam, the area becomes a popular whitewater rafting destination. Check water release schedules before going on the water.

See Wilbur Recreation Facilities page for more information about TVA's recreational opportunities.


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