Norris Dam is a hydroelectric facility damming and controlling the Clinch River and creating a reservoir around which Norris Dam State Park was established. It is located in northern Tennessee, about 50 miles south of the Kentucky border and about 30 miles north of Knoxville.
The Norris Dam in Tennessee was named for a Nebraska Senator (George Norris, 1861-1944) who was one of the major supporters of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation. The TVA was established in 1933 to provide the structure for an ambitious serious of public works projects that provided work for the unemployed at the height of the Depression. The Authority still exists today, and is based in Knoxville. Norris Dam was its first major project, with construction beginning in October of 1933.
While not as famous or as extensive as the Great Smoky Mountain National Park (about 30 miles south of Knoxville), the Norris Dam has created a beautiful region that is perfect for all the things to do in Tennessee that involve the great outdoors. Norris Dam State Park cabins provide perhaps the most comfortable wilderness accommodations within the park. The park boasts a number of rustic cabins and three-bedroom deluxe cabins. All Norris Dam State Park cabins are handicapped accessible and are fully self-catering, with electric appliances, cooking utensils and dishes, and linens. The rustic cabins have a kitchenette and bathroom with shower, fireplace with firewood, and television. Some have a separate bedroom and some have a living room/bedroom combination. The deluxe cabins have three separate bedrooms, full bathroom, living room/dining room combination, color television, two porches and picnic table with grill.
Since space is limited and they fill up quickly, you can find other Norris Dam State Park cabins outside of the park, as there are numerous vacation rentals near the lake. There are also camping areas in the park, with a total of 75 sites with tables, grills, water and electric hookups, modern bathhouses, and dump stations. There is a visitors complex in the park with activities center, swimming pool, and laundry facilities. There are also tennis courts, badminton, basketball, horseshoes, and volleyball. The park campgrounds also can fill up rapidly, especially during the warm summer weather, and there are private campgrounds and RV parks outside of the park.
If Tennessee hotels or camping aren’t for you and you still want a degree of Norris Dam State Park comfort, you can even book quite luxurious houseboats, giving you instant access to swimming and the fabulous fishing available in the area. There is a large, modern commercial marina near the dam, in case you wish to bring your own boat.
Norris Dam State Park also has miles of wonderful Tennessee hiking trails that wind through beautiful woodlands and provide great views of the lake, hills and valleys, and surrounding countryside. During your hikes, you can visit the Lenoir Museum to see a fascinating collection of historical artifacts from the region as well as an eighteenth-century rice grist mill and threshing barn.