Boating in Tennessee

Going boating in Tennessee? Tennessee’s boating and paddling opportunities do not disappoint! Boaters can go kayaking on the Olympic whitewater course in Ocoee. Go houseboat cruising on a calm lake or they can navigate down the meandering Mississippi River. Take in the Tennessee landscapes from the water while also dangling a fishing line! 

Visiting a bigger city like NashvilleKnoxville or Memphis? Sightseeing a cozy, historic town like Gatlinburg or Old Sweetwater Villiage near the spectacular ‘Lost Sea’? Regardless there is sure to be a boating opportunity in your area. Oh, and in case we forgot to mention it, there’s also great fishing in Tennessee!


Best Boating Lakes

You’ll find great boating opportunities all over the state of Tennessee. The state has over 50 rivers, countless lakes and boater-friendly weather.

We thought we’d share a few of our favorite places to go boating in Tennessee.



Dale Hollow Lake

Dale Hollow Lake consists of 27,700 acres of lake surface area. It also has 24,842 acres of surrounding land, totalling 52,542 acres. It is and is one of the cleanest lakes in the United States. The lake has 620 miles of shoreline.

Discover Dale Hollow Lake from your boat. Use one of the boat launches or rent a houseboat from one of the many marinas. You can also rent a chalet or cabin along the shore with beautiful lake views or use one of the campgrounds.

Dale Hollow Lake holds the world’s record for smallmouth bass. It also has the largest federal trout hatchery each of the Mississippi which produces 1.5 million trout per year.

Dale Hollow Lake attracts millions of visitors per year and offers many activities. These include fishing, boating, skiing, camping, hiking, horseback riding, hunting and much more. The mild climate and long recreation season make this and other Tennessee Lakes popular vacation spots.


Reelfoot Lake

Reelfoot Lake is a 15,000 acre lake created by a series of earthquakes in 1811-1812. These caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards creating the lake. The State Park is noted for its fishing, boating and wildlife viewing and the ecosystem is unlike any other area of Tennessee. This is due to the way the area was created, causing submerged Cypress stumps.

One of the best ways to experience Reelfoot Lake is by boat. With the lake being a flooded forest it is shallow with lots of submerged stumps and standing trees. Boaters have to navigate slowly and cautiously. Due to this there are very few large boats around making it a haven for smaller vessels, canoes and kayaks.


Tenessee River

The Tennessee River is the fifth-largest river system in the world and a major waterway of the Southeastern United States.  The river begins with the joining of the Holston and French Broad Rivers east of Knoxville. From there it follows a U-shaped course of 652 miles (1,049 kilometers) until it enters the Ohio River at Paducah, Kentucky.

Boating is an immensely popular recreational activity. One that might require you to move from one lake to another and is therefore largely used as a transportation mechanism. That means using the Tennessee Valley’s waterway system of navigation locks. It is a free service used by thousands of recreational users each year. The process takes 45 to 60 minutes, though it may take longer if traffic is heavy.


Tennessee State Parks

You may expect the most popular U.S. National Park to be Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.  However the #1 most visited U.S. National Park is Tennessee’s Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Make sure to check out this outdoor playground while you’re in Tennessee.

Several of Tennessee’s state parks offer “clean certified” marinas, boat launches, boat rentals and guided boat tours on lakes. It also offers reservoirs, rivers and streams. Some of the more popular parks for boating include Cove Lake State ParkTims Ford State Park and Long Hunter State Park. So hook up your boat trailer, find out where the boat access is. Check out one of Tennessee’s beautiful state parks from the water.


Fishing in Tennessee

Anglers will enjoy Tennessee’s well-stocked Pay Lakes. They will also enjoy the thousands of ponds, lakes and rivers that you can catch bass, catfish, crappie and sunfish from, any time of year.

Find out where the best places are to go fishing in Tennessee, by visiting the official Tennessee Tourismwebsite. Make sure to learn up on Tennessee’s Fishing Regulations. Don’t forget fish species information, fishing license and boating license requirements/restrictions before you hit the water. Visit the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) for more information about these regulations.