Wheeler Lake, Alabama, USA

Also known as:  Wheeler Reservoir

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Wheeler Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Wheeler Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Wheeler Lake

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.

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

Find Places to Stay at Wheeler Lake

If you’re considering a Wheeler Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Wheeler Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Wheeler Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • Booking.com – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, Booking.com connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • Hotels.com – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, Hotels.com is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

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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