Explore TN River Valley

The Tennessee River Valley is a large area mostly in Tennessee that stretches from southwest Kentucky to north Georgia, and from northeast Mississippi to the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. And while the vast area has many unique towns, parks, lakes and historical locations, one of the most popular areas within the valley is the area surrounding Norris Lake. Vacationers from across the country visit and explore the local flavor of the Tennessee River Valley from the comfort of their Norris Lake vacation rental. Come to Norris Lake and explore the scenic byways, historical communities, festivals and parks in the TN River Valley. And if you have questions or need accommodations, call the friendly ladies at Norris Lake Cabin Rentals located in Tazewell, TN. (800) 883-7406

East Tennessee Crossing Byway
When you come to visit the TN River Valley you’ll definitely want to spend some time on the East Tennessee Crossing Byway. MAP This scenic road follows the original path of the Cherokee Warriors and then the Civil War soldiers as a strategic route from the southeast up through the Cumberland Gap. This route also includes the legendary bootlegging corridor known as Thunder Road.

Enjoy the panoramic views, majestic mountains, white-water rivers, hills and beautiful farms along the way. There are plenty of sites to see including railroad towns, historical locations and artisan communities known for their crafts, quilting, and bluegrass music.

Highway 25E comes out of the Cherokee National Forest southeast of Norris Lake and winds its way northwest through Morristown and Tazewell, TN. Many of our cabin rentals along Norris Lake are within 13 to 16 miles from Tazewell, with easy access to the East Tennessee Crossing Byway.

White Lightning Trail
The White Lightning Trail is 200 miles of great American stories about the Tennessee River Valley moonshine era. This trail and its stories are indeed about running white lightening, but also about Appalachian arts, crafts, historical buildings, historic sites, towns and the tales of legendary characters. The trail got its name as a prohibition-era, moonshine-running corridor, where moonshiners traveled the roads and curves of “Thunder Road,” with their illegal homemade corn whiskey, usually under the cover of darkness.

Many pioneers in the TN River Valley made their livelihood along this route. You will cruise through rolling hills and valleys, and you’ll travel along the path first cut by Daniel Boone. You’ll walk in the previous steps of Civil War soldiers, and coal miners, while visiting forts that protected the territory’s first settlers. Take some time to visit the school where the Clinton 12 stood their ground in the name of civil rights. And speaking of legends, no Tennessee trip would be complete without some musical heritage. Visit the hometowns of country music legends Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Kenny Chesney and Carl Smith.

And Don’t forget to ask about the White Lightening Trail Festival!


CLICK on Map for Driving Directions

Union County Farmer’s Market
The Union County Farmers Market is a seasonal marketplace featuring local vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, nursery plants, hand-made crafts and much more. Local produce means fresher produce, and it’s fun to visit with local farmers who care about delivering the best quality produce. Meeting the locals also is a great way to discuss gardening and share suggestions on how to achieve the best quality. Plus, the local market is just plain fun, making new friends. Meet every second Saturday, 8:30 am to 11:30 am, May through October at the Union County High School.

The growers and artisans that sell at the market are remarkable folks. Stop in today and visit with us here at the Union County Farmers Market and savor all that is home grown and handmade! They also provide a list of the participating growers & artisans with their contact information – just in case you can’t wait till market day to get your bushel of corn or a special handcrafted gift.

Look forward to seeing you at the Market!

3925 Maynardville Hwy
Maynardville TN 37807

CLICK on Map for Driving Directions

Sharps Chapel Community
While enjoying your stay at Norris Lake, take time to visit and explore nearby Sharps Chapel, to get a real feel for how the original settlers lived their lives. As you drive through the Sharps Chapel area of the TN River Valley, you’ll pass tiny agrarian communities, each with a school, store, church and cemetery. Other points of interest include an old coal mine and Helm’s Ferry / Union County Ferry, which is the only connector between the community of Braden and the rest of Union County.

The Sharp Ousley house located in Sharps Chapel has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1978 and is being restored. Other historic buildings include the Dr. Davis store and office, Rush Strong School, Irwin Chapel, and Irwin School.



Spectacular Fall Colors and Boat Tour
The area of the valley around Norris Lake and East Tennessee has many species of deciduous trees that will display their spectacular colors beginning later in September and into early November. A very popular way to see the trees is to casually drive the country roads, or even better, take in a tour of Norris Lake by pontoon boat.

A common way to identify trees is by the nature of their leaves. Trees with simple leaves include Beech, Black Gum, Oak, Catalpa, Chestnut and, Maple. Trees with compound leaves include Hickory and Walnut. If you want to learn more about identifying trees, here’s a handy tree identification publication published by the Tennessee Division of Forestry


Norris Lake Pontoon Boat Ride
Enjoy the beautiful display of nature’s fall colors by taking a boat ride with a Park Ranger who will narrate your trip with tree identification and park history. You can call the park office by phoning (865) 426-7461 or visiting www.norrisdamstatepark.org. You can phone the marina at 865-494-8138. Fall season boat tours run from October 14-27 with daily trips at 11am, 12:30pm, 2pm and 3:30pm. The cost is very affordable at only $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under six. The departure point is Norris Dam Marina, 1604 Norris Freeway, Norris, TN 37828. The marina is conveniently located off Interstate I-75 at the Lake City exit 128, just south on 441 about 4 miles.

Click on Map for Driving Directions

Chuck Swan Wildlife Area
One of the most under-used forests in East Tennessee is found on 25,000 acres that comprise the Chuck Swan Wildlife Management Area. This scenic peninsula is bounded on three sides by Norris Lake, and when you’re staying in one of our Sharps Chapel area vacation cabins, we recommend you get there on Sharps Chapel Road leading to this tranquil and secluded forest. Camping areas around the eastern portion of this wildlife area offer opportunities for bird and butterfly watching, and the fall colors are incredible. The area is also home to several cemeteries, a firing range and miles of trails.


CLICK Map for Driving Directions

Pickin in the Park – Norris Dam State Park
Old time bluegrass might not be this much fun anywhere else than at Norris Dam State Park. Enjoy this bluegrass festival in a small outdoor amphitheater. This festival is one of the the best ways to enjoy the local culture of East Tennessee. When you are exploring the TN River Valley, make time for a fantastic time with family and friends at Norris Dam State Park for the Pickin in the Park. If you like bluegrass, you’ll love this event. The music is real good. You’ll also get a healthy dose of country and gospel music. For more information call (865) 426-7461 or visit www.norrisdamstatepark.org. The admission is very affordable (free!) and this event is appropriate for all ages.

briceville church

Briceville Church and Cemetery
When it comes to the history of the Tennessee River Valley, few places have a more dramatic and more memorable past than Briceville with it’s coal mines, coal miners, uprisings, churches and memorials.

Built in 1887, the Briceville church is on the National Register of Historic Places, and served as a center of local unity and community life during the coal mining boom in the late-19th and early-20th centuries.

3502 Overlook Circle
Knoxville, TN 37909 US


CLICK Map for Driving Directions

Fraterville Miners’ Circle at Leach Cemetery
Also on the National Register of Historic Places, the Fraterville Miners’ Circle is located in Leach Cemetery in Lake City, TN, formerly the town of Coal Creek. On May 19, 1902, there was an explosion in the Fraterville Mine. All 216 men and boys in the mine on that Monday morning perished. 89 of the miners were buried in concentric circles in the Miners’ Circle at Leach Cemetery in Coal Creek. A monument at the center of the Miners’ Circle bears the names of 184 miners.

The Cross Mountain Miners’ Circle is located just south of Briceville, along the western slope of Walden Ridge within the Coal Creek Valley. The Cross Mountain Miners’ Circle is found inside the larger Circle Cemetery, the latter established sometime after the internment of the miners.

CLICK Map for Driving Directions

Norris Dam State Park
125 Village Green Cir Rocky Top, TN 37769? (865) 426-7461

The 4,000 acre Norris Dam State Park is located on the shores of Norris Lake, and the park offers recreational boating, skiing, and fishing. Visitors also enjoy the museum, incredible gristmill pictured below, and an old threshing barn. The park has a fully equipped marina with boat ramp, and people can rent boats, including house boats or pontoon boats.

For boat information contact Norris Dam Marina at 865-494-8138.


Big Ridge State Park
1015 Big Ridge Park Rd, Maynardville, TN 37807

Along the Appalachian Ridge and Valley range, just west of the Hickory Star Marina is the Big Ridge State Park, near Maynardville. With over 3,600 acres of thick wooded forest and fertile stream valleys, this park is surrounded by Norris Lake.

Big Ridge has a variety of activities for the whole family, beginning with 15 miles of hiking trails, from easy to rugged, along hilly ridges, lush hollows and old roads. Rent a vacation cabin from Norris Lake Cabin Rentals. This park is wheelchair accessible. For more information, please contact Big Ridge State Park directly at 800-471-5305.

1015 Big Ridge Park Rd
Maynardville, TN 37807

CLICK Map for Driving Directions