Watauga Lake primed as Memorial Day destination

Published 7:58 am Friday, May 25, 2018

One popular tourist attraction in Northeast Tennessee is expected to see an increase of traffic over the next few days.

As citizens across the country take time out to recognize those that sacrificed all during Monday’s Memorial Day, this weekend will be used as a way for people to spend quality time with each other at destinations across the country, including Watauga Lake in Carter County.

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With the weekend around the bend, lakes across the areas are in good shape, according to Tennessee Valley Authority.

“Watauga and South Holston Lakes are at, or above, their summer pool elevation targets,” TVA’s Travis Brickey said. “In fact, Watauga is about 4 feet over flood guide because of heavy rainfall in the North Carolina and Tennessee mountains. So, we’re in good shape leading into the Memorial Day weekend.”

Created back in 1942 after TVA impound Elk River, Roan Creek and Watauga River, the lake has served as a popular destination for residents and tourists alike with over 6,000 acres worth of water and various boat ramps and picnic areas scattered throughout the area.

But with any trip, safety precautions need to be put in place.

“We want folks to get out and have a great time but do it safely,” Brickey said. “Always wear a life jacket and never drink and drive — boat or car.”

Memorial Day weekend typically serves as the unofficial start of the summer boating season and safety precautions are continually stressed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Last year, no boating fatalities were reported for a third straight year.

In the state of Tennessee, it is illegal to operate a boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

So with rules already in place by the state for boat driving, TWRA is encouraging residents to wear life jackets while on a boat. Other tips while on the waters include having a fire extinguisher aboard a vessel and making sure to do a simple maintenance check before taking to the water.

TWRA has spent the past week promoting the initiative, recognizing 2018 National Safe Boating Week — May 19-25. The week was used as a way to promote different safety measures, including the importance of wearing a lifejacket.

Whether it is fishing, boating or any other outdoor activity, TWRA offers a variety of tips and information for handling any outdoor activity.