Don McGowan Photo
Water recreation is not recommended in Great Smoky Mountains National Park due to numerous hazards and dangers. Drowning is one of the leading causes of death in the park. Innumerable injuries have resulted from people swimming and riding inner tubes in park waters.
Watch a video on water safety!
Use extreme caution when walking along riverbanks.
Over the years, several people have fallen to their deaths and many others have suffered serious injuries from climbing on rocks near waterfalls or along the riverbanks. These rocks are slippery due to mist and algae.
Submerged rocks, trees or debris could be immediately below the surface of the water.
Most drownings result from getting a leg or ankle caught in an underwater rock ledge or between boulders. The force of the water will push you over and hold you under.
Always look downstream and be prepared to fend off rocks with your feet.
Exposure to cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia, an extremely dangerous condition involving the lowering of the body's "core" temperature. Hypothermia can kill you! Symptoms include loss of strength and muscular coordination followed by mental confusion and irrational behavior.
Protect Park Streams!
Didymo is a destructive and invasive algae species that can smother park streams. Didymo can be spread on fishing andwater recreation equipment.
Did You Know?
At 480 feet, Fontana Dam, located on the southwestern boundary of the park, is the tallest concrete dam east of the Rocky Mountains. The dam impounds the Little Tennessee River forming Fontana Lake and produces hydroelectric power. More...