The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) impounded the Watauga and Elk Rivers to create this reservoir in 1948. Representing the reservoir with the highest elevation in Tennessee, Watauga Lake is accessible only by winding mountain roads. Only one third of the shoreline is privately owned, and a major portion of the lake is surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest. This lake is a favorite among anglers who seek record-breaking Ohrid and lake trout.
The Appalachian Trail crosses over the lake at Watauga Dam, which empties into Wilbur Lake. Visitors can reach Wilbur Lake -- a 72-acre reservoir -- by taking Wilbur Dam Road. That road also leads to more TVA campgrounds, fishing ramps, and picnic grounds.
Search Watauga Lake Resources
Although automobile access to the lake is limited via winding mountain roads, a new handicap-accessible pier at Rat Branch is available at the lake. Boaters also have access to eight public boat ramps, seven marinas, and two recreation facilities along the lake.
Watauga Lake can only accommodate a few tourists, but luxury rental properties are available as well as a campground. The Watauga Dam Tailwater Campground offers 29 sites with electric hookups. The lack of motels and lakefront development provides a great sense of isolation. Visitors who want hotel rentals can find them in Elizabethton.
Review the Lake Resource Guide for additional lodging.
Located in Carter and Johnson Counties in Tennessee, Watauga Lake is about 145 miles from Knoxville, and 128 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina. However, Elizabethton, Tennessee, is located just about an hour from the lake, and it offers a municipal airport. Other towns located nearby in Tennessee include Johnson City and Milligan. Nearby North Carolina towns include Sugar Grove and Boone.
Fun times at Watauga Lake
|Avg. High 45||Avg. High 50||Avg. High 59||Avg. High 68||Avg. High 76||Avg. High 83||Avg. High 86||Avg. High 85||Avg. High 79||Avg. High 69||Avg. High 59||Avg. High 48|
|Avg. Low 25||Avg. Low 28||Avg. Low 34||Avg. Low 42||Avg. Low 51||Avg. Low 60||Avg. Low 64||Avg. Low 63||Avg. Low 55||Avg. Low 44||Avg. Low 35||Avg. Low 28|