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Tennessee > Tennessee Lakes and Reservoirs > Watauga Reservoir
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Watauga Reservoir

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General Information

Description - Watauga holds the distinction of being the highest reservoir (more than 1,900 feet above sea level) in the Tennessee River system. The reservoir is operated for many uses, including flood control, power generation, water quality, and aquatic ecology. Construction of the dam began in early 1942 but was curtailed later that year in favor of other wartime building efforts. Work resumed in 1946, and the dam was completed in 1948. Surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest and flanked by the Appalachian Mountains, Watauga Reservoir is arguably the most scenic in the Tennessee River watershed. It offers access to the Appalachian Trail. Below Watauga Dam is a wildlife observation area where visitors have a chance to view unique species of waterfowl. Water levels in Watauga Reservoir vary about 9 feet in normal years to provide for seasonal flood storage and for the augmentation of flows of water during drier seasons. Watauga Dam is 318 feet high and extends 900 feet across the Watauga River.

Attractions - Watauga Dam Tailwater Campground This is a self-service campground (423-547-3167). Recreation opportunities: 29 camp sites with electric hookups. Rest rooms with heated showers and flush toilets, dump station, public phone, picnic tables and grills, canoe access, boat ramps above and below dam, lake and river fishing, hiking trail, walking trail, wildlife viewing area, bird-watching. The Appalachian Trail crosses Watauga Dam.

Recreation - Visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, hiking, walking, wildlife veiwing and bird watching. Below Watauga Dam is a wildlife observation area where visitors have a chance to view unique species of waterfowl. The Appalachian Trail crosses Watauga Dam.

Climate - Tennessee has a temperate climate with short, mild winters. The average annual snowfall for the state is 12 inches. Spring comes in early March bringing flowering trees and shrubs, and warmer weather. Spring temperatures average between 45 and 70 degrees. Summer's full force arrives in the region by mid May, bringing warm weather and higher humidity. The mountains of eastern Tennessee are a great place to escape the hot summer temperatures as the higher elevation cools the air slightly. Cool fall temperatures bring crisp air and brilliant fall colors. Mid to late October is a good time to visit the region to experience the fall foliage.

Location - Watauga Reservoir is in northeast Tennessee near Elizabethton. The reservoir extends 16 miles east from Watauga Dam toward the North Carolina border. From Elizabethton, Tenn., take US 19E north 0.1 miles to Hwy. 91, then take Hwy. 91 3 miles to Siam Road. Turn right onto Siam Road and follow signs to Watauga Dam Reservation.

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