Back in Boone This Summer - Lake Time in Tennessee

John M. Dabbs

The wait is nearly over. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has completed most repairs in the Boone Dam complex and is testing the reinforcements and structure this summer at levels near full-pool. The lake is back up after a long hiatus and is ready for serious action.
Kid paddle boardingKen White/Unsplash

Summer Recreation

There is a lot of R&R to be had in the lake. Boating, skiing, swimming, and fishing are but a few of the offerings popular on this body of water. You'll find paddle-boarders, kayaking canoeing, and many people just soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the view these days. It's been a while since we've had this lake up.Many of the docks offer food and some are full service with dinner and music. Check out Sonny's Marina and the Marker 2 Grill at Lakeview Marina for starters.
Wake BoardingJack Van Tricht/Unsplash

Beautiful year round, Boone Lake is a major attraction for residents and visitors. The lake is a favorite destination for boaters, water skiers, swimmers and anglers. We can find marinas in many of the communities surrounding Boone Lake, making it possible to boat from one community to the next.

The private lake-front properties and communities limit the number of public boat ramps, but there are enough. You can find paved public ramps at Winged Deer Park, TVA's Boone Dam Reservation at the western bend of the reservoir, the bridge in Bluff City, and at Pickens Bridge.


Sport fishing includes white crappie, smallmouth-bass, largemouth-bass, striped-bass, black crappie, black-bass and crappie. Catfish and carp are also prevalent. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) stocks Boone Lake with blue catfish, striped bass, hybrid striped bass and crappie. While the fishing is fun, consumption of fish from the reservoir should be limited - follow the TWRA consumption guide for safe levels.


Camping, hiking, wildlife and bird watching sites are available in TVA's designated land in Washington County. Bird species include wild turkey, whip-poor-will, ruby-throated hummingbird, red-eyed vireo, blue-headed vireo, wood thrush, gray catbird, black-throated green warbler, black-and white warbler, ovenbird, hooded warbler, scarlet tanager, yellow-throated warblers, great crested flycatcher, and chuck-will's-widow. More hiking, hunting and wildlife areas are found within a couple of miles of the lake.

Boone Lake lends itself to many forms of recreation. Select from a growing number of vacation rentals or lakeside real estate properties and follow the urge to get out and explore.
Afternoon delightsJulie Rotter/Unsplash

About Boone Lake

The lake, also known as Boone Reservoir, is one in a series of reservoirs among the hills of northeast Tennessee. TVA finished the dam in March 1953. Spread across Sullivan and Washington counties, TVA maintains Boone Lake for:

  • flood control
  • water supply
  • recreation
  • producing power through hydro-electric turbines.

Originally settled by the Cherokee, the region saw new communities by 1770. TVA named the reservoir for frontiersman and explorer Daniel Boone.


Boone Reservoir covers 4,310 acres. It extends along the South Fork of the Holston River, forming two river extensions. According to TVA, "at maximum pool level, one arm of the lake extends about 16 miles up the South Fork Holston River, and the other extends approximately 15 miles up the Watauga River." With water levels remaining fairly stable during the summer, Boone Lake's normal full pond is 1,382 feet above sea level. During winter the water level drops to about 1,360 feet.

Boone Lake has 131 miles of shoreline (83% is designated for private development). There is another eight miles on islands in the lake. While some farmland still exists on its borders, the majority has been developed as lake-front real estate and gated communities.

Water quality

Rapid real-estate development and growth have led to poor ecological health reatings since 1994. Swimming is still considered safe, and consuming fish is considered safe within published limites. The Boone Watershed Partnership is working with users, government agencies, and stakeholders to monitor and improve the water quality.


The swimming beach at the TVA Boone Dam Reservation has yet to be reconstructed. The old beach area is there, but is supposed to be underwater when the water is all the way up. The TVA plans call for relocating the swim-beach to another area and making improvements.

Boone lake is a great area to plan a family picnic, or a weekend of fun. Hopefully you will make time to get out there and grab some fun for yourself!

Comments / 0

Published by

An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

More from John M. Dabbs

Comments / 0