Fontana Lake

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

This long, narrow reservoir east of the Fontana Dam stretches for around 29 miles across some 10,000 acres. Located along the southern fringe of the national park, west of Bryson City, it's a gorgeous spot for canoeing, kayaking and fishing. You can hire gear, take scenic boat tours and get transport to remote corners of the lake (ideal for exploring the Lakeshore Trail) at the Fontana Marina.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park attractions

1. Fontana Dam

1.21 MILES

Built in the early 1940s to provide power for America's industrial needs during WWII, Fontana is the tallest dam east of the Rockies. At 2365ft wide, it's…

2. Shuckstack Tower

3.31 MILES

It's an uphill slog to get here, but you'll be rewarded with jaw-dropping views once you make it to the historic fire tower and clamber your way to the…

3. Parson Branch Road

8.88 MILES

This 8-mile-long road is permanently closed to motorized traffic, though it's open to mountain bikers and walkers, who can enjoy some serene forest views…

4. Tipton Place


The picturesque Tipton homestead was built by Mexican War veteran ‘Colonel Hamp’ Tipton in the early 1870s. The grounds include a spacious two-floor cabin…

5. Carter Shields Cabin

10.02 MILES

The last cabin on the loop road is arguably the most photogenic, tucked in a small grassy glade surrounded by the woods. Carter Shields, a Civil War…

6. Cable Mill Historic Area

10.26 MILES

To get bread on the table, early residents of Cades Cove first had to mill their grains and corn. Above all other staples, corn was the most important…

7. Primitive Baptist Church

10.97 MILES

One of three rural churches that remain standing in Cades Cove, the 1887 Primitive Baptist Church is flanked by an atmospheric cemetery. Look out for the…

8. Cades Cove Picnic Area

11.09 MILES

Children enjoy splashing in the shallows of Abrams Creek at this woodsy picnic spot, where a number of tables are perched by the water. You'll find grills…