Fun Things to Do On Douglas Lake | Great Smoky Mountain Recreation


Splash into vacation mode in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.

Come discover one of the manmade wonders of the Smoky Mountains, located just a few miles northeast of Sevierville, Tennessee. Douglas Lake has 550 miles of shoreline, stretches out over more than 30,400 acres, and reaches depths of 140 feet. The reservoir extends 43 miles upriver from Douglas Dam. Built during World War II—in just 12 months and 17 days, a world record at the time for projects of its size—the dam provided hydropower to drive the war effort. Today Douglas Lake is a destination for fun. Whether you want to make a big splash or stay dry, seek adventure or relaxation, jump into the water, float on top of it, or even fly above it, here are 10 of the most fun things to do at beautiful Douglas Lake.

Surf the waves, navigate smooth water, and see the sights all at the same time while stand-up paddle boarding with Smoky SUP All of this outfitter’s paddle boards—basically a surfboard with a paddle—are custom-made carbon fiber for comfort and stability. Boards can be delivered where you want to paddle Douglas Lake. All rentals include the board and paddle plus a personal floatation device, ankle leash, emergency whistle, and basic lesson upon request.

Motor around the lake at your own pace on a pontoon boat from Mountain Cove Marina , Every boat in the marina’s fleet of 22-foot Crest pontoon boats is brand new in 2021 and is outfitted with 115 horsepower four-stroke Mercury Outboard engines and AM/FM radio. Life jackets and a lake map are provided with each rental, whether you opt for a half- or full day.

Bring your own or rent a kayak from Douglas Headwater Campground to paddle the spectacular Douglas Lake. Rent a single or tandem sit-in kayak by the hour to explore the lake’s variety of settings, from its busier boating areas with waves to its calm quiet spots with mirror-like surfaces.

Satisfy your need for speed on a jet ski from Smoky Mountain Lake Adventures Enjoy the wild rush, the water spraying in your face, the invigorating feeling of skipping across waves, and the opportunity to steer wherever you want to explore. Racing around the lake on a jet ski is a heart-pumping good time.

Fishing is a simple pleasure for all ages. Whether you bring your own boat, rent one, or hire a guide, enjoy relaxing while holding a rod across blue water surrounded by majestic mountains. Just be ready to spring into action and reel in your catch once you feel a tug on your line. Douglas Lake has been rated one of the nation’s top fishing lakes for crappie and largemouth bass. You can also reel in white, striped, and spotted bass. (A fishing license is required.) Smoky Mountain Angler and Rocky Top Outfitters are ready to help with any gear and guidance you may need.

Come on in the water! Douglas Lake is open to public swimming anywhere you care to take a dip. One option is the beach swimming area near Douglas Dam, where there’s also a large concrete public boat launch. Navigate around and you can find sandy beaches tucked along coves and islands along its 550 miles of shoreline—over 80 percent of which is undeveloped. With so many options, it’s easy to find an uncrowded haven.

Douglas Lake has several designated picnic areas. Pack up a basket or cooler and savor its contents seated at a picnic table—whether you’ll be dining solo, with a few companions, or want to reserve the pavilion at the Douglas Dam Overlook that can seat up to 200 people. Breathtaking views set the mood while benches and restrooms ensure comfort throughout the visit.

Birdwatching can be rewarding year-round, but between July and October migrating shore birds, wading birds, and waterfowl flock to Lake Douglas. The Rankin Bottoms Wildlife Management Area , managed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, is located at the upper end of Douglas Lake (and is typically flooded from April through September). Flying overhead or feeding at the muddy shoreline, look for American white pelicans, wood stork, double-crested cormorant, great blue heron, great egret, a wide variety of sandpipers, several types of swallows, and many other species.

Visit the Douglas Dam Overlook to appreciate the record-setting big build. Constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority from February 2, 1942 through February 19, 1943 at the peak of World War II, the dam was built in record time for a facility of its size. It is 1,705 feet long and 201 feet high and has four generating units for a combined net dependable capacity of 111 megawatts of hydropower. The Overlook offers a panoramic view of the dam, lake, and surrounding mountains.

For more information or help planning your Smoky Mountain getaway, contact the Sevierville, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce at 1-888-766-5948 or

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