Fontana Dam

Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Nantahala National…

Surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Nantahala National Forest, and deep river gorges, Fontana ranks among the most beautiful dams in the world.

Fontana Dam

You Can Drive or Walk Across the Dam

Fontana Dam is a towering structure that was impounded and created Fontana Lake in World War II, and is the tallest dam east of the Rocky Mountains. Accessed via NC-28-N, you can walk or drive across the Dam’s surface to enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding, untouched natural landscape, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Appalachian Trail, which extends over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, crosses Fontana Dam. Take the scenic drive and discover the beauty that awaits. 

The Fontana Dam Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April through August, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. September and October. The center will close on the last Sunday in October.

Interesting Facts:

  • Construction of Fontana Dam began in 1942 and was completed in 1944.
  • The dam impounds beautiful Fontana Lake, and all its recreational opportunities in a pristine natural environment.
  • The dam is 480 feet high and stretches 2,365 feet across the Little Tennessee River.
  • Fontana Lake (also known as a Reservoir) provides 238 miles of shoreline and 10,230 acres of water surface for recreation activities.
  • In a year with normal rainfall, the water level in Fontana Reservoir varies about 56 feet from summer to winter to provide seasonal flood storage.

Appalachian Trail at Fontana Dam

Getting There:

Go west on U.S. Highway 74 toward Murphy, N.C. After about 8.3 miles, turn right on N.C. Highway 28. Go north about 21.3 miles and turn right on County Road 1245 (Fontana Dam Road). Continue about 1.3 miles to the dam. The total driving distance from Bryson City is about 32 miles. Estimated travel time is about 45 minutes.

Things To Do Around Fontana Dam:

Take a Step Back in Time and Learn How Fontana Dam and the Road to Nowhere Came to Be

Did you know that Fontana Dam is the smallest town in the state of North Carolina?

The smallest town in North Carolina is Fontana Dam. It has been around unofficially since the 1940s when the workers who built its namesake dam moved here—but it didn’t incorporate until 2011. Today, it has just seven permanent residents, but others who populate the area include the visitors and seasonal staff of the Fontana Village Resort. The dam itself, the tallest east of the Rockies at 480 feet, is a wonder, as is the surrounding area’s natural beauty.

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