Best Boating Destinations Around Knoxville, TN

Knoxville, Tennessee, nestled in the Tennessee Valley, is a treasure trove for boating enthusiasts. With its wide array of lakes, winding rivers, and stunning landscapes, it offers some of the best boating destinations in the region. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or a weekend water enthusiast, here are some must-visit boating spots around Knoxville that promise unforgettable experiences.

1. Fort Loudoun Lake

Fort Loudoun Lake, a reservoir on the Tennessee River, is a favorite among Knoxville boaters. This lake was created by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1943. Stretching over 14,600 acres, this lake is perfect for a variety of water activities, from pontoon cruises to fishing to water sports.


Marinas and Facilities: Numerous marinas, such as Concord Marina and Volunteer Landing Marina, offer boat rentals, fuel, and dining options. Check out Lakeside Tavern near Concord Marina and Calhouns on the River near Volunteer Landing.
Fishing: Known for its abundant fish population, Fort Loudon offers bass, catfish, and crappie.
Scenic Views: Enjoy views of the Great Smoky Mountains as you navigate the lake.

2. Norris Lake

Located about 30 miles north of Knoxville, Norris Lake is a sprawling reservoir with over 800 miles of shoreline. Its clear, deep waters make it a top destination for boating enthusiasts. Fun fact: Norris Dam was the first dam TVA built (1933), and is named for Senator George Norris of Nebraska, author of the legislation that created TVA.


Houseboating: Norris Lake is renowned for houseboat rentals, offering a unique way to vacation!
Water Sports: Ideal for skiing, wakeboarding, and tubing, the lake’s calm waters provide the perfect playground for families and thrill-seekers.
Secluded Coves: Discover hidden coves and quiet spots for a peaceful day on the water.

3. Tellico Lake

Tellico Lake in Vonore, TN, is formed by the Tellico Dam on the Little Tennessee River. This gem is located about 30 miles south-west of Knoxville. Tellico Lake is known for its upscale lakeside communities, neighborhoods, and marinas.


Historic Sites: Visit Fort Loudoun State Historic Park, which offers a glimpse into the area’s rich history.
Wildlife Watching: The lake is home to diverse wildlife, including deer, eagles, and a variety of waterfowl.
Scenic Cruises: Enjoy leisurely cruises along the lake, taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and forests.

4. Douglas Lake

Situated about 30 miles east of Knoxville, Douglas Lake is known for its excellent fishing and recreational opportunities. Covering over 28,000 acres, it offers plenty of space for all kinds of boating activities. Douglas Lake is also just a short distance away from the excitement of Pigeon Forge & Gatlinburg!


Fishing Tournaments: Douglas Lake is a popular spot for bass fishing tournaments, attracting anglers from across the country.
Camping and Picnicking: Several campgrounds and picnic areas along the shoreline provide perfect spots for family outings.
Water Sports: The lake’s calm waters are ideal for kayaking, paddle-boarding, and jet skiing.

5. Cherokee Lake

Located approximately 40 miles northeast of Knoxville, Cherokee Lake is a reservoir offering a variety of recreational opportunities. Its serene environment makes it a favorite among local boaters.


Scenic Beauty: Surrounded by rolling hills and lush forests, Cherokee Lake offers stunning natural beauty.
Bird Watching: The lake is a haven for bird watchers, with numerous species to spot, including ospreys and herons.
Fishing: Known for its healthy population of striped bass and crappie, Cherokee Lake is a great spot for fishing enthusiasts.


Knoxville, TN, and its surrounding areas offer some of the best boating destinations in the southeastern United States. With a variety of lakes and rivers to explore, there’s something for every type of boater. So, whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an action-packed adventure, Knoxville’s waterways are waiting for you. Happy boating!