Wheeler Lake, Alabama, USA

Also known as:  Wheeler Reservoir

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

If you’re considering Wheeler 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 Wheeler Lake guide!

Wheeler Lake visitor and community guide

Lake Locations: USA - South - Alabama - Mountains -

Wheeler Lake in northern Alabama’s Mountain Region is the state’s second-largest lake at 67,100 acres. The Tennessee Valley Authority created Wheeler Reservoir by constructing the Wheeler Dam across the Tennessee River between 1933 and 1936.

Wheeler Lake is one of nine reservoirs that create a navigable “stairway” along the Tennessee River. The creation of Wheeler Lake allowed boats to travel over rock formations called the Muscle Shoals that had previously blocked navigation. Although the primary purposes of Wheeler Reservoir are navigation, flood control, and hydropower generation, its recreational opportunities now attract over four million visitors every year.

Wheeler Lake is conveniently located about 25 miles west of Huntsville, Alabama. Wheeler Reservoir stretches out over 60 miles between the Wheeler Dam and Guntersville Dam to the east.

Decatur, known as the “River City”, is the county seat of Morgan County and is the largest city on Wheeler Reservoir. Decatur hosts several festivals every year, including the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic over Memorial Day weekend, the Spirit of America Festival on July 4th, and the Racking Horse World Celebration in September.

The shoreline of Wheeler Lake and the Tennessee River is dotted with upscale residential development.

As one of the few lakes that successfully houses largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, spotted bass, and white bass, Wheeler Lake attracts bass anglers from all over the country. Common catches also include bluegill, catfish, crappie, longear sunfish, redear sunfish, and sauger.

Wheeler Lake’s unique topography greatly contributes its ideal aquatic environment. The steep banks continue under Wheeler Lake’s surface and combine with relatively swift current to create a fish habitat haven.

Because of the superb fishing opportunities, this Alabama lake hosts several major bass tournaments every year. Novice anglers also drop their lines in, often catching fish that deserve a plaque and significant wall space back home. Grab a pole and prepare yourself for some fun-filled fishing hours.

Nature lovers will enjoy the 35,000-acre Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge, located a few miles upstream from the dam. Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge is named after Major General Joseph Wheeler. It was created to provide a safe haven for wintering and migrating birds in the eastern USA.

Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge has supported up to 60,000 geese and 100,000 ducks, 115 species of fish, 47 species of mammals, 74 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 288 species of songbirds.

Visitors to Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge usually see squirrels, rabbits, deer, and quail as they hike through the park’s many miles of trails. Walking and hiking paths vary in length from 200 yards to four miles. No matter what your fitness level, you’ll be able to do some nature watching.

Joe Wheeler State Park offers a wide variety of activities: fishing, a marina with boat rentals, an 18-hole champion golf course, tennis, swimming, and hiking. Accommodations range from a resort lodge and convention facilities to cabins, cottages, and camp sites. The campground includes more than 100 sites with full hook-ups plus primitive camping.

Boating and swimming go hand-in-hand here at Wheeler Lake. As you zoom around the lake soaking up the sun, you’ll discover the uncontrollable urge to drop anchor and dive into the watery depths for a quick cool-down session.

A vacation on Wheeler Lake will surely relax your mind and body. You’ll heartily enjoy every minute of your stay here, so come on down to hospitable Alabama and spend a week or two getting to know this special lake and its beautiful scenery.

Custom Wheeler Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Wheeler Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Fishing Tournaments
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Golf
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Wildlife Refuge
  • State Park

Fish species found at Wheeler Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Redear Sunfish (Shellcracker)
  • Sauger
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Spotted Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Wheeler Lake

The Wheeler 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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Wheeler Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Wheeler Lake statistics & helpful links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Tennessee Valley Authority

Surface Area: 67,070 acres

Shoreline Length: 1,027 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 556 feet

Average Depth: 16 feet

Maximum Depth: 57 feet

Water Volume: 1,050,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1936

Water Residence Time: 10.6 days

Drainage Area: 29,590 sq. miles

Trophic State: Eutrophic

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