Norris Lake is the only reservoir of Norris Dam, which was completed in 1936 in east Tennessee. The Norris dam and lake make up the Norris State Park Dam, comprised of over 4,000 acres of beautiful and serene shoreline, islands, marinas, camping, fishing, water sports, and more. The Norris Dam is the first dam built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The TVA provides electricity for 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of six surrounding states, including flood control, navigation, and land management for the attached river systems. TVA is the nation’s largest public power company. The lake extends into five counties: Anderson, Campbell, Claiborne, Grainger, and Union.

Norris Dam in Anderson County, Tennessee
Norris Dam in Anderson County, Tennessee

Credit: Brian Stansberry

Facts about Norris Lake

  • Location: Just off Highway I-75, about 20 miles north of Knoxville, TN
  • Shoreline: 809 miles
  • Maximum Depth: 210 feet
  • Surface Area: 34,000+ acres
  • Elevation: 1,020 feet
  • Primary Outflow: Clinch River

Norris Lake, also commonly called Norris Reservoir, is a popular local and tourist vacation and recreation destination. The lake and surrounding state park include hundreds of secluded coves, 3 state parks (Cove Lake State Park, Big Ridge State Park, and Norris Dam State Park), three wildlife management areas, over 20 marinas, and 59 public access sites. This lake is considered one of the cleanest in the nation, with approximately 96% purity and visibility in the clear water of up to 25 feet. It is the cleanest-rated lake in the TVA. Different boat rentals can be found at the various marinas and access sites along the lake, including houseboats, ski boats, pontoon boats, paddleboards, and other accessories for all watersports.

Wildlife can be spotted on the water and on the shores of Norris Lake. On the lake, you can find great blue herons, cormorants, ducks, hawks, vultures, and the occasional eagle. From the shore and trails, you may find deer, turkey, raccoons, skunks, and opossums, along with cows and horses grazing at the shoreline. Less common, but also calling the Lake home are red and grey foxes, coyotes, and bobcats.

Norris Lake viewed from Norris Dam
Norris Lake viewed from Norris Dam

Credit: Brian Stansberry

Fishing on Norris Lake

Norris Lake is known for its year-round fishing, including 14 different species of fish. Some of the fish found are largemouth, smallmouth, spotted, and striped bass; others include crappie, walleye, trout, bluegill, sunfish, and muskie. Fishing guides and charters can be booked, in addition to fishing from the shore, kayak, canoe, or boat. Numerous boat ramps can be found at the many Norris Lake marinas. 

Fishing on the Lake requires a fishing license, and information on purchasing can be found at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Satellite image of Norris Lake in East Tennessee
Satellite image of Norris Lake in East Tennessee

Credit: Terra Prints Inc.

Living on Norris Lake

Tucked into the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, living on Norris Lake is peaceful in an ideal lakeside community with miles of beautiful shoreline and neighborhoods. From lakefront getaways to vacation rentals, cabins, and condos, the lake has all that is needed for full and part-time living. With numerous full-service marinas, residents have access to boat slips, bait, fuel, live entertainment, groceries, and more. Restaurants can be found at both Sequoyah Marina and Stardust Marina. Besides Norris Lake providing year-round beauty, the location provides easy access to the mountains, wilderness, water, and a moderate climate.

Big Ridge State Park

Big Ridge State Park has more than 15 miles of hiking trails providing many different environments, such as dry ridges, the lakeshore, and remnants of early settlements. With 50 campsites, RVs, trailers, and tent campers can be hosted in the Park and along the Lake. Each campsite offers services such as water, electrical hookups, and picnic tables. A group camp is also available for larger parties. For more information, visit Big Ridge State Park.

The sandy beach next to the park hosts a concrete-bottomed area for swimming. The park contains sand volleyball courts, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, a basketball court, and a softball field. Big Ridge State Park has a wheelchair-accessible playground for children of all abilities.

Norris Lake's Big Ridge inlet
Norris Lake’s Big Ridge inlet

Credit: Brian Stansberry


Is it safe to swim in Norris Lake?

With a 96% purity rating and a visibility of 25 feet, Norris Lake has the cleanest and best water quality of any TVA lake.

What is the water level of Norris Lake?

Current Norris Lake water levels can be found at:

Are there alligators in Norris Lake?

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency does not stock Norris Lake with alligators; however, they advise that they are naturally expanding their range into Tennessee from the southern bordering states.

What are the biggest fish in Norris Lake?

The striped bass is the largest species of fish found in Norris Lake, reaching up to 69 pounds.

What is the temperature of Norris Lake?

The coldest month is January, with an average water temperature of 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest month is July, with an average water temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Norris Lake water and air temperatures can be found at

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