Lake at Norris Dam State Park
Autumn at the Lake at Norris Dam State Park | Photo Credit: Shutterstock - Melinda Fawver

Whether you come for the historic buildings, great fishing or to spend the night in a cozy cabin, Norris Dam State Park boasts miles of shoreline. Norris Lake is one of Tennessee’s most beautiful places and offers great outdoor adventures through hiking and water sports. Visitors can immerse themselves in nature and explore the history of the region to see one of the first dams in all of Tennessee.

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During the Great Depression, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) decided to create dams to generate electricity for much of the Tennessee River region. In 1936, the Clinch River was dammed and thus the creation of Norris Dam. It was actually a model and the first of over 24 dams built by the TVA which created many lakes across the area. This dam made Norris Lake, named after George William Norris, who advocated for the creation of the TVA.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) partnered with the TVA to build a park area along the newly created lake. The CCC came to the beautiful shores of Norris Lake and built several buildings, some of which still stand today, such as the cabins and camp kitchen.

In 1953, the land was sold to the State of Tennessee and turned into a park. Today, Norris Dam State Park continues to welcome visitors to explore the over 4,000 acres and its shoreline.

Things to Do

1. Visit the Lenoir Museum

Located within the park is the Lenoir Museum. The collection reveals the life and times of the people of early Appalachia. Some of the artifacts on display date back to 10,000 years ago. Throughout the museum, visitors will see how Tennessee and Appalachia have changed over the years into what it is today.

2. Stop by the Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn

Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn at Norris Dam State Park, Tennessee
Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn at Norris Dam State Park, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Shutterstock – ehrlif

In the 1830s, the Caleb Crosby Threshing Barn was built along the banks of the Holston River. To preserve the historic barn, it was moved to Norris Dam State Park in 1978. Today, the barn gives park goers a glimpse into agriculture history through old farm tools, plows and even a horse drawn wagon.

3. Check out the 1798 Grist Mill

Grist Mill at Norris Dam State Park, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Shutterstock – Brian Lasenby

An 18th-century grist mill was dismantled and moved to the park in 1935 by the efforts of the TVA. The grist mill is estimated to date back to 1798, making it a historically significant structure resembling the early days of pioneer life in Tennessee.

4. Make a splash at the Marina & Boat Ramp

Marina at Norris Dam State Park
Marina at Norris Dam State Park | Photo Credit: Adobe Stock – Melinda Fawver

Within the state park there is a fully equipped marina that allows boaters to fuel up or park for the day. The boat launch also makes for a great place to launch your boat to enjoy a day on the water. If you do not have your own boat, the park offers both pontoon and houseboat rentals for your next adventure.

5. Spend a Night Camping

Norris Dam is home to two campgrounds that feature both improved and primitive sites. There are a total of 75 campsites that can be booked online. All of the improved campsites offer a picnic table, grill, water and electric (20-50 amp) hookups. While there are no sewer hookups, there is a dump station and modern bathhouses. Also, nearby the campgrounds is a pool, laundromat and recreational center. Kids will enjoy the playgrounds and there are also tennis courts.

6. Book a Cabin

When the CCC was helping to build many of the facilities in the park, they created the development of 19 cabins which are still rented out today. In addition, there are 10 cabins that each offer 3 bedrooms for larger groups or families. The cabins are very accommodating with a kitchen, clean linens, fireplaces and even housekeeping services. Plus, outside each of the cabins there is a grill for outdoor cooking and picnic tables.

7. Go Fishing

Norris Lake is home to many species of fish. A valid Tennessee fishing license is required to fish on the lake. You can fish from many of the shore areas or take a boat out on the lake. Many anglers report catching large bass, sunfish and other freshwater fish.

8. Take a Hike

Hiking Trail at Norris Dam State Park, Tennessee
Hiking Trail at Norris Dam State Park, Tennessee | Photo Credit: Shutterstock – Don Grindle

If you love being outdoors in nature, Norris Dam State Park offers over 27 miles of hiking trails. With 15 trails that wind throughout the woods and shoreline, there are plenty of picturesque places to stop and smell the fresh air. Mountain biking is allowed on some of the trails in designated areas.

9. Come for an Event

The park hosts several annual events and activities including guided wildflower hikes and fall color cruises around the park. Some of these ranger led programs offer more in-depth experiences for those who are interested in learning more about the native plants and animals that call this area home.

Plan Your Visit

Norris Dam State Park is located at 125 Village Green Circle in Rocky Top, Tennessee.

For more information on hours and park admission, please visit the official website here. If you enjoyed reading this post or have visited Fort Anderson before, leave a comment below or share this post on your favorite social media!



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