Explore with The Ultimate Guide to Boating in Tennessee

Tennessee is a boater’s paradise with over 2,900 miles of waterways. It’s more than California’s coastline. This makes it perfect for all kinds of water adventures.

Known as the “Volunteer State,” Tennessee has plenty for boating fans. You can enjoy thrilling water sports or find calm spots for fishing. There’s something for everyone here.

This guide will tour you through the top boating spots in Tennessee. It will also cover important safety rules and tips. You’ll have all you need for a great time on the water in the Volunteer State.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the best boating spots in Tennessee
  • Learn about Tennessee’s boating laws and regulations
  • Find tips for a safe and enjoyable boating experience
  • Explore the diverse waterways of the Volunteer State
  • Create lasting memories on Tennessee’s lakes and rivers

Top Ten Tennessee Boating Destinations

Best boating spots in Tennessee

Tennessee is a top place for boating fun. It’s filled with great spots for boaters, from fishing fans to those who love watersports. The state is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the beauty and calm of the water. Let’s explore the top ten boating spots in Tennessee together:

  • The Tennessee River: The Tennessee River is massive, stretching 652 miles. It’s loved by boaters and anglers who enjoy its scenic views and diverse wildlife.
  • Chickamauga Lake: Chickamauga Lake is perfect for fishing and watersports fans. You can either fish for bass or join the fun with various watersports.
  • Watts Bar Lake: Watts Bar Lake is known for its beauty and variety of fish. It’s great for sailboats and houseboats. You can either sail around or find a quiet spot to relax.
  • Center Hill Lake: For peace and quiet, head to Center Hill Lake. It’s surrounded by forests and has stunning waterfalls. A great spot for a calm boating day.
  • Old Hickory Lake: Old Hickory Lake offers clean waters and beautiful views. It’s a great escape for those living near Nashville, perfect for boating and fishing.
  • Reelfoot Lake: Being Tennessee’s only natural lake, Reelfoot Lake is very special. You can enjoy its beauty and try fishing for different species.
  • Norris Lake: Norris Lake, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains, is known for its clear waters. It’s a great spot for swimming, water skiing, or simply cruising.
  • Cherokee Lake: Cherokee Lake is vast and peaceful. Spend your day exploring its coves or fishing for largemouth bass.
  • Percy Priest Lake: Percy Priest Lake is a short drive from Nashville. It’s loved by boaters and outdoor lovers. Perfect for a relaxing sailing day.
  • Dale Hollow Lake: Dale Hollow Lake is famous for its clear water and record-breaking bass. It’s a treasure for fishing fans with many spots to explore.
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These ten destinations in Tennessee cater to a variety of preferences. Whether you love sailing or are all about the fishing, there’s something for you. It’s time to make your boating adventure plans with friends and family. Head to Tennessee and experience boating like never before at these scenic spots.

Tennessee’s Rules of the Water

Boating regulations in Tennessee

Boating in Tennessee means knowing and obeying the state’s laws. These rules keep you and others safe. Here are the key rules to follow:

  1. Wearing Life Jackets:
  2. If you’re in Tennessee and on a boat, wear a life jacket. This rule is for kids under 12 and those behind the boat, too. Life jackets keep you safe and obey the law.

  3. Boating Education Certificate:
  4. If you were born after January 1, 1989, you need a special certificate to drive certain boats. This certificate ensures you know how to boat safely in Tennessee’s waters.

  5. Operating Under the Influence:
  6. Don’t boat if you’ve had alcohol or drugs. It’s not just illegal but very unsafe. Staying sober keeps you and others protected on the water.

  7. Right of Way Rules:
  8. It’s key to know who has the right of way on Tennessee’s water. Always give way to boats that do to avoid accidents. This keeps the water safe for everyone.

  9. Navigational Aids:
  10. Learn the signs like buoys and markers. They tell you about the water’s depth, directions, and dangers. Knowing these signs well is essential for safe boating.

  11. Weather-Wise Boating:
  12. Always check the weather before you start your trip. Avoid the water when there’s a storm or strong winds. Safety first means planning your boating trips wisely.

  13. Equipment Checks:
  14. Check your boat’s gear before you head out. Make sure safety stuff like life jackets and fire extinguishers work. This way, you’re ready for any problem and can avoid accidents.

  15. Informing Others:
  16. Tell someone about your boating plans. Share where you’ll go, when you’ll be back, and how to reach you. This helps if something goes wrong, so others can find and help you.

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Following Tennessee’s boating rules makes for a fun and safe time on the water. Always put safety first and be kind to others when boating.


Exploring Tennessee’s waterways by boat is amazing. It lets you see the state’s stunning natural scenery. Whether you’re on the Tennessee River or visiting smaller lakes, there’s much to see. By following boating rules, staying safe, and picking the right spots, your trip will be great in the Volunteer State.

Prioritizing safety is key, so wear a good life jacket. Enjoy beautiful views, from Reelfoot Lake’s calm waters to Chickamauga Lake’s lively fish. Discover special places like Center Hill Lake’s peaceful coves and Watts Bar Lake’s pretty islands. Whether you love fishing, water sports, or just relaxing, there’s something for you in Tennessee.

So, pack your bags and take your friends and family on a boat trip. This adventure will make unforgettable memories. Dive into Tennessee’s lively water scenes and see the state’s beauty in a new light. Launch your boat, make your plan, and welcome the excitement of exploring Tennessee by water.

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