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Lake Information for Fontana Lake


Fontana Lake is a man made lake on the Little Tennessee River located in Graham and Swain counties in North Carolina. The lake forms part of the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the northern border of part of the Nantahala National Forest. Depending on water levels, the lake is about 17 miles (27 km) long and its eastern end is the Tuckasegee River near Bryson City. The lake has many inlets into coves and many islands formed from former mountain peaks, especially near the eastern end. As with most dam impounded lakes, the steep banks are often exposed when water levels are low. Many towns were submerged shortly after the creation of Fontana Dam, such as Proctor, North Carolina and Judson, North Carolina. Waters of the lake provide some of the only access into the most remote areas of the National Park. When water levels are normal, and indeed barring any water levels so long as the individual is able to traverse the cold and unstable creek and lake bed up into the coves, a boat may be used to access such remote trailheads as Noland Creek. From the observation tower of Clingman's Dome, on a clear day the lake can be seen over a mile below, which has a normal surface elevation of 1,710 ft (520 m). Highway 28 roughly parallels the southern shore of the lake and Highway 19 between Bryson City and Wesser/Lauada briefly skims an inlet at the extreme southeastern edge. The planned Lakeview Drive will roughly parallel the lake's remote north shore, although completion of this road has been stalled for several decades by funding issues and staunch opposition from environmentalists.

Facilities and Parks: 

Cable Cove in Graham County: On Cable Cove Road (S.R. 1287), off N.C. 28, west of Bryson City.

Flat Branch in Swain County: On Greasy Branch Road (S.R. 1313), off Round Hill Road (S.R. 1312), west of Bryson City.

Old 288 in Swain County: On Bryson Walk (S.R. 1321)/Old 288, off Slope Street (S.R. 1323), west of Bryson City.

Tsali in Swain County: On Tsali Road (S.R. 1286) off N.C. 28, on the Graham/Swain county line.

Fishing Description: 

Fontana Lake is rated as excellent for smallmouth bass and around average for other species of bass.

Species of fish include: Largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, white bass, sunfish, and catfish.

Largemouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass
White Bass
Catfish Family
Fontana Lake
Lake type: 
North Carolina

Businesses Located Nearby

Boat Rental

Vacation Rental

Bar and Restaurant

    Sweetwater BBQ
  • 176 Sweetwater Rd - Lake Santeetlah, NC
  • (878) 479-6862
    Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
  • 11287 Parkside Dr - Knoxville, TN
  • (865) 675-9463

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