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Fontana Lake and Dam. More than 29 mi long, and comprising around 12,000 acres of reservoir, Fontana Lake and Dam border the southern edge of the Great Smokies. Unlike most other lakes in the mountains, Fontana has a shoreline that is almost completely undeveloped, since about 90% of its 240 mi is owned by the federal government. Fishing here is excellent, especially for small-mouth bass, muskie, and walleye. On the downside, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) manages the lake for power generation, and at the peak visitor period in the fall the lake is drawn down, leaving large areas of mudflats. Fontana Dam, completed in 1944, at 480 feet is the highest concrete dam east of the Rockies. The dam's visitor center gets about 50,000 visitors a year. The Appalachian Trail crosses the top of the dam. Fontana Dam Visitor Center, off Rte. 28, 3 mi from Fontana Village, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC, 28733. 865/632–2101 TVA headquarters; 865/436-1200 park information line. Free. Visitor center May–Oct., daily 9–7.
Fontana Village Resort Marina. Boat rentals on Fontana Lake, including kayaks, canoes, and pontoon boats, are available at Fontana Village Marina. Pontoon fishing boat rentals are $50 an hour or $350 for a 24-hour overnight rental; canoes and two-person kayaks are $40 an hour or $100 for eight hours. There's also a $5 launch fee for boats, canoes, and kayaks. Tube rentals are $20 a day. Shuttle services across the lake to Hazel and Eagle creeks cost $70 per person roundtrip for one or two persons, less for larger groups. Lake boat tours (90-minutes) are $20 per person. Fontana Village Resort, 300 Woods Rd., off Hwy. 28 N, Fontana Dam, NC, 28733. 800/849–2258 toll-free; 828/498–2129. www.fontanavillage.com. Closed Nov.–Apr.; call for exact dates.