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Fontana Lake is a reservoir impounded by Fontana Dam on the Little Tennessee River located in Graham and Swain counties in North Carolina. The lake forms part of the southern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the northern border of part of the Nantahala National Forest. Depending on water levels, the lake is about 17 miles (27 km) long. The eastern end is the Tuckasegee River near Bryson City. The lake has many inlets into coves and many islands formed from former mountain peaks, especially near the eastern end. As with most dam-impounded lakes, the steep banks are exposed when water levels are low. Many towns were submerged shortly after the creation of Fontana Lake, such as Proctor and Judson.
Short of a multi-day hike, Fontana Lake provides the only access into the most remote areas of the National Park. When the lake is at the normal summer level, a boat may be used to access remote trailheads such as Hazel Creek. From the observation tower on Clingmans Dome, on a clear day the lake can be seen nearly a mile below. While the maximum controlled elevation of the lake (top of dam gates) is 1,710 ft (520 m), the normal Summer surface elevation is 1,703 ft (519 m). NC 28 roughly parallels the southern shore of the lake and US 19 between Bryson City and Wesser/Lauada briefly skims an inlet at the extreme southeastern edge.
238 miles of shoreline. Fontana Lake is located between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Nantahala National Forest in a protected harbor. Its deep, cold waters provide ideal habitat for a variety of fish. Known as one of North Carolina's best Smallmouth Bass lakes. Deep lake with a max. depth over 400 ft.