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For lake boating near the Smokies, your best bet is Fontana Lake. This 29-mile long, 11,700-acre TVA lake offers great views of the southwestern side of the Smokies. Canoes, kayaks, and other boats are available to rent at several marinas on the lake. You can even rent a houseboat.
Smoky Mountain Jet Boats. For a fast boating experience, try Smoky Mountain Jet Boats, offering 40-minute rides on Fontana Lake for $32 for adults. Combination boat rides and hikes on Forney Creek trail are $68. 22 Needmore Rd., Bryson City, NC, 28713. 828/488–0522 or 888/900–9091. www.needmore.com.
Alarka Boat Dock. To rent a small powerboat on Fontana Lake, check with Alarka Boat Dock. A 15-foot boat with 15 horsepower outboard motor is $10 an hour or $50 a day, and a 24-ft pontoon boat is $250 a day (each plus fuel). 7230 Grassy Branch Rd., off Lower Alarka Rd., Bryson City, NC, 28713. 828/488–3841. www.alarkadock.com.