Boone Lake, Tennessee, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Tennessee - East -

Also known as:  Boone Reservoir

Boone Lake is one of a series of reservoirs lying among the hills in northeast Tennessee. Completed on March 16, 1953, Boone Lake was constructed, and is maintained, by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for flood control, water supply, recreation and production of hydropower. Spread across Sullivan and Washington counties, Boone Lake visitors are surrounded by spectacular views of the surrounding southern Appalachian Mountains. Part of the East Tennessee Tourism Region, Boone Lake lies near the center of rapidly growing Tri-Cities: Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol.

Originally settled by the Cherokee Nation, this “overmountain” region was dotted with new communities by 1770. Washington County was Tennessee’s first county and its community of Jonesborough is the oldest community in the state. Named for frontiersman and explorer Daniel Boone, the pioneer spirit of Tennessee is remembered in the name, Boone Reservoir.

Boone Reservoir’s 4,310 acres extend along the South Fork 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.

Including eight miles of island shoreline, Boone Lake has 131 miles of shoreline with 83 percent of the land designated for private development. Some farmland still exists around the lake but the majority of land has been developed with lake-front real estate properties and gated communities. Current development and rapidly expanding cities have added to a history of water quality problems at Boone Reservoir. Since 1994 ecological health ratings for Boone Lake have been “poor” but swimming is considered safe, as is fish consumption within published limits. Boone Watershed Partnership is working diligently with lake users and government agencies to monitor and improve Boone Lake water quality.

Beautiful any time of year, Boone Lake is a major attraction to visitors and residents of surrounding communities. With a maximum water depth of 129 feet and average depth of 44 feet, the lake is often busy with boaters, water skiers, swimmers and fishermen. Marinas can be found in many of the communities surrounding Boone Lake making it possible to boat from one town to the next. Public ramps are limited due to the growing number of private lakefront properties. Paved public ramps can be found at Winged Deer Park on the Watauga River or TVA’s Boone Dam Reservation at the western bend of the reservoir.

Sport fishing (listed in TVA order by fishing quality) 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. Anglers should follow TWRA’s Fish Consumption Advisories (see link below).

Camping, hiking, wildlife viewing and bird watching sites are waiting to be explored on 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.

Four additional hiking, hunting and wildlife areas can be found within two miles of Boone Reservoir. To the east, Cherokee National Forest covers 640,000 acres and holds over 20,000 plant and animal species. Watauga River Bluffs Natural Area lies to the south. Public access is limited, but well worth the effort to view the fragile shale bluffs, beautiful trees and wildflowers, including the state’s largest concentration of Carolina pink (Silene caroliniana). Morril Cave State Natural Area, also known as Worley’s Cave, lies southeast of Boone Lake. The cave is on private property within Sullivan County, but the eight to ten miles of underground passages are open to the public. When completed, Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail will extend 330 miles through Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina. To the east of Boone Lake, the scenic and historic trail follows the path of 900 patriot militia who met and defeated the British at Kings Mountain, South Carolina in 1780.

For those interested in exploring the legends and lore of East Tennessee, several museums and living history sites are within ten miles of Boone Lake: Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site interprets Tennessee history from its early settlement to the Civil War; Rocky Mount Museum tells the story of Tennessee farm life in 1791 when it was the U.S. Territorial Capital; and Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area is the site of the first American permanent settlement outside the 13 original colonies. Preserving the tradition of storytelling and providing fun for the whole family, the International Storytelling Center is located in downtown Jonesborough.

For beauty that may be equaled but rarely surpassed, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 90 miles southeast of Boone Lake. Visitors drawn to more than 800 miles of hiking trails, fishing along mountain streams, forest camping and miles of scenic drives, make this is America’s most visited park. Offering a wide variety of restaurants, shops and entertainment, the communities of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge welcome visitors on their way in and out of the park.

A place of lore and tradition, 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. Nature’s pleasures and renowned attractions make Boone Lake an ideal family destination. Find your home away from home and celebrate being with the ones you love.

Things to do at Boone Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park
  • National Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Boone Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Black Crappie
  • Blue Catfish
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • White Crappie

Boone Lake Photo Gallery

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Boone Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Tennessee Valley Authority

Surface Area: 4,310 acres

Shoreline Length: 131 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,382 feet

Average Depth: 44 feet

Maximum Depth: 129 feet

Water Volume: 75,829 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1953

Water Residence Time: 30 days

Drainage Area: 686 sq. miles

Trophic State: Mesotrophic

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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