Watauga Lake is the best-kept secret of the Tri-Cities lakes! Its more remote location makes it much less used than the other lakes with pristine views and a mostly-undeveloped shoreline, most of which lies in the Cherokee National Forest. It’s also the second-biggest lake in the area after South Holston Lake with a large wide main channel and many quiet coves that are perfect for lazy summer days of pontoon floating and fishing.
There are many options for launching and storing boats on Watauga Lake. Several public boat ramps allow for easy access for launching pontoon and fishing boats at the Rat Branch, Little Milligan ramps, plus a publicly-accessible ramp at Fish Springs Marina.
The marina options on Watauga Lake are as follows:
Watauga Lake Marinas
Bayview Family Campground & Marina in West Butler, TN
Located at: 16335 Hwy 67. West Butler, TN 37640
Close to: 16 miles from Mountain City, TN
Bayview Family Campground is a boat dock and RV campground at the far end of Watauga Lake on the way to Mountain City. It has plenty of space for campers, a picnic area, and covered boat slips for rent. There is no gas or dock store at Bayview, but a general store and restaurant located across Highway 67 stocks a variety of boating items, fishing bait, and more.
Cove Ridge Marina & Yacht Club in Butler, TN
Located at: 947 Piercetown Road
Close to: 1.5 miles from the Butler Museum
Cove Ridge Marina is a private marina that offers covered and uncovered slips for boats, cabin cruisers, sailboats, and jet-skis, and fenced dry storage for boats and trailers. The covered slips have lighted walkways, water service and electrical service. Service options include regular maintenance, winterizing/de-winterizing, and boat shrink-wrap. Parking and restrooms (with a shower) are available for members. A marina store stocks general boating supplies, fuel, batteries, and other supplies. A campground at the marina has lakefront spots with gated security, utilities, cable tv, phone, and internet.
Fish Springs Marina in Hampton, TN
Located at: 191 Fish Springs Road
Close to: 1 mile from Shirley’s Home Cooking
Phone: (423) 768-2336
Fish Springs Marina is near the Carter County/Johnson County line. Their marina has many covered and uncovered boat slips, fuel and routine boat service. Slips are available for pontoon boats, fishing boats, personal watercraft, and houseboats. Lifts and power access are available in covered slips. A general store has a variety of boating and fishing supplies, snacks, and marina merchandise. Boat rentals are available, along with many other watercraft through Off the Grid Adventures. New and used boats are sold here. The slips are for members only but a public boat ramp is available.
Lakeshore Resort and Marina in Hampton, TN
Located at: 2285 US-321
Close to: 4 miles from Laurel Falls Trailhead / Appalachian Trail
Phone: (423) 725-2223
Lakeshore Marina is along Highway 321 between Hampton and Butler, just a few miles from the Appalachian Trail and Laurel Falls. The full-service marina has covered and uncovered boat slips, fuel, and a marina store. The resort has cabins available to rent and the Captain’s Table seafood restaurant, which is also accessible by boat. Pontoon and ski boats can be rented. The Carefree Boat Club also keeps the Watauga fleet at this location with plenty of luxury pontoon and sport boats available to members along with towables, floats, and more free of charge to members.
Mallard Cove Marina in Butler, TN
Located at: 200 Mallard Cove Road
Close to: 4.5 miles from Watauga Point Recreational Area
Phone: (423) 768-3440
Mallard Cove Marina is just off Highway 321 on the Boone, NC side of the Highway 67-321 junction just before you reach the Butler Bridge. They have covered and uncovered boat slips, camping spots, gas, a boat ramp, and a snack bar. Pontoon boats and a power boat are available to rent.
Pioneer Landing Campground in Butler, TN
Located at: 105 Cowan Town Road
Close to: 2 miles from Watauga Lake Winery
Phone: (423) 768-3164
Website: Pioneer Landing on Facebook
Pioneer Landing Campground is a rustic campground in one of the most remote parts of Watauga Lake for campers and boaters looking to get away to a private location to spend their summer days. The campground has several spots for RVs. The boat dock currently only has uncovered slips. There isn’t fuel or a store at the dock, but there are several stores to stop at along the way in Hampton or Butler to stock up for your day out.
Contributor: Carefree Boat Club of Tennessee