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Alabama's Mountain Region contains the state's largest lake: Lake Guntersville. Cradled in the Appalachian foothills of northern Alabama, it's located between Bridgeport and Guntersville, stretching 75 miles into Tennessee (near Chattanooga). 949 miles of shoreline surround its 69,000 acres. Lake Guntersville was chosen by Relocate America as one of "The 100 Best Places to Live in America."
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) created Guntersville Reservoir in 1939 by constructing the Guntersville Dam across the Tennessee River. It was named for John Gunter, an early Scottish settler and adopted Cherokee tribe member. He founded the town of Guntersville shortly after the American Revolution.
Congress authorized Guntersville Reservoir for flood control, navigation, and hydropower generation. Recreation, water supply, and fish and wildlife habitat enhancement are added benefits. Part of the Tennessee River navigation channel, water levels fluctuate just two feet between maximum summer pool and lower winter pool. The TVA built two locks on the reservoir to handle river traffic.
Year-round events attract tourists. Triathlons, cook-offs, fishing tournaments, the MOVA (Mountain Valley) Songwriters Festival, boating races, fireworks, and more fill the schedule with food, fun, and fellowship.
Lake Guntersville State Park, a 6,000-acre woodland haven, is home to migrating birds, deer, soaring bald eagles, and other native wildlife. Park amenities include an 18-hole championship golf course, miles of hiking trails, a sandy beach, fully-equipped picnic area, and beautiful views. Accommodations include a hotel with conference center, lakeside cabins, and mountain chalets.
A few miles north is the spectacular Cathedral Caverns State Park, with the world's largest cavern entrance and largest stalagmite forest. Formations include Mystery River, Goliath, Big Rock Canyon, and Frozen Waterfall.
Fishing is a big draw, evidenced by ESPN fishing tournaments and other pro competitions. Bluegill, catfish, crappie, longear sunfish, redear sunfish, sauger, and largemouth bass define the angling experience. A 15-inch minimum for largemouth bass may seem restrictive, but some reach 24 inches.
If you don't bring your own boat, rentals are available. The 949-mile shoreline awaits your exploration. Sheer cliffs fall into the lake, deer venture to the water's edge, and flora dot the landscape. Watch as clouds float overhead, enjoy the cool water, and bask in the warmth of the Alabama sun. Lake Guntersville offers something for everyone.
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