Cherokee Lake, Tennessee, USA

Also known as:  Cherokee Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Cherokee Lake.

If you’re considering Cherokee Lake vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Cherokee Lake guide!

Cherokee Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - South - Tennessee - East -

Cherokee Lake: Artists stop at Clinch Mountain Overlook to paint it, and photographers to photograph it, and every year millions of people come from all over to enjoy its beautiful waters. Cherokee Lake is a fantastic place to boat, fish, and enjoy. With Pigeon Forge, Tennessee nearby, there is sure to be something to please everyone.

Cherokee Lake is named for the Cherokee Indians that used the Great Indian Warpath. Followed by Daniel Boone, the Warpath crossed the basin now filled by the reservoir. The reservoir was formed in 1941 with the completion of the Cherokee Dam on the Holston River. The dam, located 52 miles upstream from the convergence of the Holston and French Broad Rivers that make up the Tennessee River, was created to make hydroelectric power for World War II and also for flood control. Cherokee Lake is managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority which runs several recreation facilities around the lake including a swimming beach, boat launch, and campground. The TVA also regulates the water levels which vary around 27 feet a year.

Beginning and experienced anglers will find plenty of fish in Cherokee Lake, including black bass and sauger. The lake is stocked with walleye, crappie and very good striped bass. The TVA adds oxygen to Cherokee Lake to help support the fish populations. Fishing tournaments are held on the lake each year. Several full-service marinas provide services to boating enthusiasts and anglers, including boat rentals and bait service. Cherokee Lake is large enough for good sailing with many coves and islands to explore.

On the shores of Cherokee Lake, Panther Creek State Park provides over 1,400 acres of forest, trails and wildlife. The park has camping and hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, and visitors may see white-tailed deer, eagles or owls. About 45 minutes south of Cherokee Lake, the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, the country’s most visited park, rounds out the outdoor adventures.

Clinch Mountain was immortalized by the Carter Family in their 1928 song “My Clinch Mountain Home.” The area is also home to bluegrass musician Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Looking down at the view from the Clinch Mountain Overlook, it’s easy to see why songs were written and paintings painted of this beautiful area and lake.

Custom Cherokee Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Cherokee Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • National Park

Fish species found at Cherokee Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Sauger
  • Striped Bass
  • Walleye

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Cherokee Lake

The Cherokee Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

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Cherokee Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Cherokee Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Tennessee Valley Authority

Surface Area: 28,780 acres

Shoreline Length: 393 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,073 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,020 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,075 feet

Average Depth: 50 feet

Maximum Depth: 150 feet

Water Volume: 1,460,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1941

Water Residence Time: 160 days

Drainage Area: 3,428 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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