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Watts Bar Lake

Considered one of the largest lakes in the south at 39,000 acres, Watts Bar Lake is the second reservoir in a series of nine created by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) along the Tennessee River. This reservoir lies between Watts Bar Dam downstream and Fort Loudoun Dam upstream. The Tennessee, Clinch, and Emory Rivers all are major tributaries. The TVA built the Watts Bar Dam in 1942 for flood control and for power. Recreational activities on and around this lake include boating, fishing, RV and tent camping, and hiking.


Along the TVA system, Watts Bar Lake's sport fishing rates among the top for largemouth and spotted bass and crappie. While anglers can travel along this 72-mile long reservoir, they also can cruise up a slack-water channel up the Clinch River for about twenty miles, and for about twelve miles up the Emory River. Some record fish caught in this lake include: a yellow true bass at 1.12 pounds in 1990; a bigmouth buffalo at 46.6 pounds in 1982; a shortnose gas at 5.12 pounds in 1995; a river herring at 3.12 pounds in 1982; and a golden redhorse at 1.11 pounds in 1979.


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    Watts Bar Lake Tennessee Coordinates:
35.6208N -84.7817W
Map It:
Lake Type:
Surface Area:
39,000 acres
Maximum Depth:
70 ft
741 ft
Normal Water Clarity:
3 ft
Major City:


Area marinas at Watts Bar Lake offer hundreds of slips, boat and cabin rentals, houseboats, and supplies. Look for several large islands in this lake, including Thief Neck, Long, and Sand Islands. Watts Bar Lake includes a commercial lock that carries barges to the next reservoir on this system, the Chickamauga Reservoir.


Watts Bar Lake is so large that it's not surprising to find several state parks within the region. Frozen Head State Park offers backcountry camping, and Cumberland Mountain State Park provides cabins as well as 145 ten and RV sites with hookups. Fall Creek Falls State Park provides 228 camp sites, two group camps, 30 cabins and villas, and a 145-room inn. Depending upon where you plan to put in at the lake, the distance to these parks is less than one hour.

Visitors also can find ten other campgrounds and hotels and motels as well as rental cabins located at marinas and resorts around the lake. The proximity of the lake to I-75 between Knoxville and Chattanooga and I-40 at Kingston allows for plenty of accommodation choices.

Review the Lake Resource Guide for additional lodging.


Watts Bar Lake covers parts of Roane, Meigs, Rhea, and Loudon Counties in Tennessee. The lake is easily accessible from both Knoxville and Chattanooga via I-70 and I-40. Other towns in the immediate area include Kingston, Rockwood, Harriman, Sweetwater, and Crossville.

Fun times at Watts Bar Lake  Watts Bar Lake

  Watts Bar Lake  Watts Bar Lake

Average Temperatures Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Avg. High  46 Avg. High  51 Avg. High  61 Avg. High  70 Avg. High  77 Avg. High  85 Avg. High  88 Avg. High  87 Avg. High  81 Avg. High  71 Avg. High  60 Avg. High  49
Avg. Low  26 Avg. Low  29 Avg. Low  35 Avg. Low  43 Avg. Low  52 Avg. Low  61 Avg. Low  65 Avg. Low  64 Avg. Low  57 Avg. Low  45 Avg. Low  35 Avg. Low  28