Craving a beach vacation this summer, but don’t have the time or money to make it happen? A lazy waterside getaway may be closer than you think.
Imagine walking down a winding path to the lustrous white sands, gulls wheeling overhead. White sands beckon, as does the sound of lapping waves. Children run happily along the shoreline, playing with buckets and shovels as their parents relax under the sun, reading beach novels. A little further down the shoreline, a group of teenagers play at volleyball. It’s a scene of pure summertime bliss.
Where are you?
No, you’re not in the Outer Banks, or Panama City, or Hilton Head, or Gulf Shores—or at any ocean anywhere. You’re right at home in the Valley, at Boone Lake’s newly manicured swim beach off Minga Rd. just south of Johnson City, Tenn. It’s free and open to the public…and absolutely gorgeous.
There are many such swim beaches on TVA dam reservations throughout the Valley designed to provide respite from the summer heat and allow families of all income levels to enjoy family fun on region’s lakes, explains Jerry Fouse, recreation strategy and tourism development specialist for TVA Natural Resources. Most are free; a few charge a nominal fee.
“Really, the swim beaches provide a multifaceted recreation experience,” he says. “There are always picnic areas and there is shore fishing available; there are often trails nearby and boat ramps. It’s like a mini state park experience.”
Recreation is part of TVA’s DNA, interwoven with its stewardship mission Fouse explains: “It’s important to us to provide the broadest recreation experience to the broadest group of people, and TVA has been developing facilities like these since the 1950s.”
Thanks to TVA’s efforts, you can easily have a one-day beach get-away. Just pack up a lunch, the kids, some sunscreen and head to a beach near you.
Besides Boone Beach, other Valley swim beaches include:
- Barton Springs Beach on Normandy Lake: Located on Barton Springs Rd. near Tullahoma, Tenn.*
- Bear Creek Dam Beach: Located on Dime Rd. off AL 13 near Haleyville, Ala.*
- Chickamauga Dam Reservation: Located off TN 153 S. near Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Cherokee Dam Reservation: Located off TN 92 near Jefferson City, Tenn.
- Douglas Headwater and Tailwater Dam Reservation: Located on Douglas Dam Rd. near Dandridge, Tenn.
- Melton Hill Dam Reservation: Located on TVA Melton Hill Dam Rd. off U.S. 321 near Lenoir City, Tenn.
- Nickajack Shellmound Day Use Area: Located off TVA Rd. near South Pittsburg, Tenn.
- Loyston Point Recreation Area at Norris Lake: Located off Lakeshore Dr. at N. Shore Dr. near Norris, Tenn.*
- Paris Landing State Park on Kentucky Reservoir: Located on TN 76/U.S. 79 off TVA Access Rd. near Buchanan, Tenn.*
- Parksville Beach on Parksville Lake: Located off U.S. 64/Old Copper Road near Ocoee, Tenn.*
- Pine Lake Ramp Beach: Located on Pine Lake Rd. near Lexington, Tenn.*
- Point Mallard Park at Mallard Creek: Located off Point Mallard Dr. SE near Decatur, Ala.*
- Tellico Dam Reservation: Located off TN 321 in Lenoir City, Tenn.
- Watts Bar Dam Reservation: Located off County Rd. 451 and Watts Bar Ln. near Spring City, Tenn.
* Indicates that a nominal fee will be charged.