With nearly 300 miles of shoreline, Lake Allatoona offers a treasure trove of secluded coves, mountainside vistas and waterfront views year round. But the best dam views at the lake are located within a small area on the lake's western shores where the waters of the Etowah River flow back into its natural valley on its long, winding journey to the Gulf of Mexico.
Completed in 1947 and beginning operation for electrical generation in 1950, the 190-foot tall Allatoona Dam is an impressive site from virtually any viewing point. Authorized by the U.S. Flood Control Acts of 1941 and 1946, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the concrete gravity dam to span the 1270-foot gap between portions of Pine Mountain to the north and Vineyard Mountain to the south, according to US Army Corp of Engineer records.
The best viewing points for the dam are:
Cooper's Furnace Day Use Area. Accessed off of US 41 south of Cartersville, visitors can park at Cooper's Furnace and walk to near the base of the dam. From this perspective, the dam towers above, and its easy to watch the waters escape the bottom of the dam from the hydroelectric turbines. At periods of extreme high water, Allatoona Dam becomes a waterfall, as the design allows the lake's waters to flow over the dam and down into the river bed below. Cooper's furnace also features hiking trails that provide access to a dam overlook at the visitor center.
Allatoona Lake Visitor Center and Museum. Reaching the visitor center requires a hike at Cooper's Furnace, or an extra 20+-minute drive around on winding GA-20 from Cartersville. The centers includes a small museum which tells the history of the dam and area. Contact the museum before visiting, as operating hours are limited.
On a Boat, on Lake Allatoona. Viewing the dam from the lake offers a unique perspective, displaying only the very top of the incredible structure from the lake's surface. It's easy to kayak from Cooper's Branch Boat Ramp off GA-20 or from various points at Red Top Mountain State Park. Power boat rentals available from Lake Allatoona marinas also offer a great way to view the dam and explore more of the lake.
Riverside Day Use Area. Also located off US-41 south of Cartersville on the south side of the Etowah River, this park also is home to a disc golf course, picnic areas and hiking trails. Allatoona Dam road dead-ends at the gated entrance to the dam, which is not open to the public.
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