Fontana Lake is deep in the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Fishing, boating, and swimming are all popular at Fontana, but it is perhaps most appreciated by wilderness hikers and campers. The 480-foot tall Fontana Dam is the highest dam east of the Rockies. The Appalachian Trail, which extends over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, crosses Fontana Dam. The hot showers available at the trail shelter, maintained by TVA, have led grateful hikers to dub it the Fontana Hilton. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park borders the reservoir to the north.
View of Fontana Dam from the Visitor Center
The Fontana Dam Visitor Center is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily from May through October. But you can drive or walk across the dam at any time.
Fontana was built during World War II to provide electric power for the war effort. A new town, housing some 5,000 people who worked around the clock in three shifts, sprang up in the forest, and the project broke construction records. What was once the construction village is now Fontana Village Resort, offering lodging and recreational activities such as boating, horseback riding, and crafts making.
Drive or walk on the Appalachian Trial across Fontana Dam.
Fontana Lake provides 238 miles of shoreline and 10,230 acres of water surface for recreation activities. In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in Fontana Reservoir varies about 56 feet from summer to winter to provide seasonal flood storage. Ride the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad by Fontana Lake!
Rent any type of watercraft and equipment you can imagine at the Fontana Marina. Jet skis, pontoon boats, kayaks and other pleasure craft.
Directions from Asheville (94 miles): Take I-40 west. Take the exit for Hwy 74 (Great Smoky Mountain Expressway). Stay on Hwy 74 (four lane) you will pass Clyde, Sylva, and 8 miles past Bryson City (last chance for groceries, restaurants) turn right on Hwy 28. Continue on Hwy 28 for 25 miles.