Beautiful Lake Fontana, often called the "best kept secret in the mountains",
is located just 45 mins from the Waynesville Mountain Home.
The 29-mile long, 11,700-acre Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) lake has more than 240 miles of shoreline. And its deep, cold waters provide the ideal habitat for a variety of fish. In fact, record size muskie and walleye have been pulled from its depths. And many believe it’s one of the best smallmouth bass fishing lakes in the country, including the Fisherman’s Bass Tournament Circuit, which held its annual Hall of Fame Classic at Fontana in Fall 2001.
Fontana Lake is unique in many ways. Unlike most lakes in the area, shoreline development has been kept to a minimum. More than 90 percent of the land around the Lake is owned by either the National Park Service or the US Forest Service. Maps of the Lake are available at local fishing stores.
But the North Carolina reservoir is equally intriguing for the scenery beneath its waters: the remnants of old farm towns submerged in the 1940s to make room for the wartime necessity of hydroelectricity. When the TVA draws the lake down in September, you often can see the remains of old homes and skeletal farm structures.Those fortunate enough to go boating on Fontana Lake have a unique perspective of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. At places the view is unobstructed from the lake level to the top of towering Clingmans Dome, the Park's highest peak.
While the Tennessee Valley Authority still uses the dam, the lake has become well-loved for its boating, camping and fishing. And if you’re curious about the area’s history, plenty of stories from the valley’s past life still surface from the deep.
BEST KEPT SECRET ... Road to Nowhere
After residents were forced to leave their homes for the sake of the dam’s construction, the U.S. government promised residents it would build a road so they could access their ancestors’ gravesites along the shore.
“The Road to Nowhere,” as it came to be called, heads six miles into the Great Smoky
Mountains National Park and it dead-ends at a tunnel. Construction was halted because of
environmental concerns. The road remained in dispute for more than 30 years until the U.S. government made a settlement with Swain County in 2010.
Throughout the year, the National Park Service provides boating trips for descendants of people who lived in now-submerged towns to participate in “Decoration Days” and visit their ancestors’ graves in old cemeteries along the reservoir’s shores.
The road is still accessible from Everett Street in Bryson City. Scenic overlooks provide dramatic panoramas of Fontana Lake and the Appalachian Mountains.
Lake Fontana is beautiful in the Fall!
They start drawing the lake down after Labor Day
and the Almond Boat Park closes down late October.
You can still enjoy the lake if you put your boat in at the western-most end near the dam.
We love Almond Boat Park!
There are a number of private marinas where you can rent a boat, or put your own boat on the lake. You'll find knowledgeable staff, and plenty of boating and fishing supplies. We highly recommend Almond Boat Park owned by Jo and Jim Mathis. Mark Stephenson runs the dock,and it's like one big family! We keep our boat in the water there from April through October. Almond Boat and RV Park offers pontoon rentals, boat rentals, cabin rentals, RV park rentals, boat storage, bait, fishing and hunting licenses. Located ten miles outside of Bryson City, NC on a paved road with easy access for motorcyclists and RVs.
They are so helpful and accomodating, if you store your boat there all you have to do is show up and head out on to the crystal clear water! Be sure to visit their website at www.AlmondBoatPark.com
“DON’T MISS” SPOT ... Fontana Dam
Stretching 2,365 feet across the Little Tennessee River and towering 480 feet in height, Fontana Dam is the highest dam in the Eastern United States. The dam backs water for 29 miles and provides a major source of energy for the Tennessee Valley. With 10,640 acres of water surface Fontana provides great recreational water activities such as boating, knee-boarding, water-skiing and some of the best Pike and Bass Fishing anywhere. Admire the view from the top. The Appalachian Trail actually crosses the dam’s summit.
A visitor center operated by the TVA off North Carolina Highway 28 features historical displays and videos about the dam’s history and is open from May until October.