Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: Who was J. Percy Priest?

    A: J. Percy Priest Dam and Lake is named in honor of Representative James Percy Priest, who was a high school teacher, coach and reporter/editor for the Nashville Tennessean before he was elected to Congress. He represented Nashville and Davidson County from 1940 until his death in 1956. Click here for further information about James Percy Priest.

  • Q: What is the average depth and temperature of J. Percy Priest Lake?  

    The average depth is 28.7 feet.  The elevation of the lake varies from a winter low of about 483 feet above mean sea level to a summer recreation pool of 490’ msl to a flood storage capacity of 504.5’ msl.  The average surface water temperature of the lake in 2001 was close to 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit.  The warmest temperature, 84 degrees, was recorded in late June and again in early August.  The coolest temperature, 35 degrees, was recorded in late January.  
  • Q: What is the deepest part of the lake?  

    The deepest part of J. Percy Priest Lake is in the main river channel about 1/2 mile upstream of the dam at approximately 100’.  
  • Q: What Rules and Regulations govern the land and waters of the lake?  

    The Rules and Regulations governing public use of the Corps of Engineers water resources development projects are contained in Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  Visitors are bound by these regulations.  Punishment of not more than six months imprisonment and/or a  fine of not more than $5,000 may be issued to violators.  A copy of Title 36 Rules and Regulations is available from the J. Percy Priest Visitor’s Center or the Resource Manager’s Office.  An on-line version is provided at the Government Printing Office’s Site.
  • Q: Do I need a permit to camp on the islands?  

    No, but you must camp on designated islands and at designated sites.  There are no reservations available for these sites; they are first-come, first-serve.  Also, you must follow some common sense rules.  For more information and the rules, please visit our primitive camping page.  
  • Q: How do I apply for a lake record fish?  

    Lake record fish records are maintained at the J. Percy Priest Resource Manager’s Office.  Anglers applying for a lake record fish should request an application, and should have the fish weighed on a certified scale with two witnesses present.  Contact a representative with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency to verify the species and weight of the fish.  Click to see the lake records.
  • Q: Can I place brush, stakes, Christmas trees, etc. in the lake for attracting fish?  

    Yes, however you must apply for a free permit and follow some guidelines.  You may not cut live vegetation or standing dead trees for your attractor material.  You must install your attractor at or below elevation 475 feet above sea level (under water at minimum pool).  You may not use pressure-treated wood.  For more information contact the Resource Manager’s Office at (615) 889-1975 or visit our fishing page.  
  • Q: Who do I contact to rent or store boats at the lake?  

    There are six commercial marinas on J. Percy Priest Lake, and each provide services such as boat rentals, fuel, drinks, snacks, vessel pumpouts, and other customer needs.  Contact the marina nearest you for a list of services:
    More information on Marinas on J. Percy Priest Lake.
  • Q: I have a houseboat on J. Percy Priest, and want to have my sanitary holding tank pumped out.  Where do I go for such services?  

    J. Percy Priest Lake is designated as a “No Discharge” lake by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and all recreational vessels must use vessel pumpout facilities provided by project marinas.  It is against the law to discharge treated or untreated sewage directly into the lake.  Each marina on the lake provides pumpout services, so contact the marina closest to you to make arrangements for your vessel.  
  • Q: Can I have a campfire on shoreline of J. Percy Priest Lake?  

    Title 36, Chapter 3, Section 327.10(b) states that “Fires shall be contained in fireplaces, grills, or other facilities designated for this purpose.”  Open burning along the shoreline, including within pits constructed of shoreline rock are generally prohibited.  Portable grills and similar devices are allowed.  Gathering of dead wood on the ground for an authorized fire is allowed, but no live vegetation or standing dead timber shall be cut.  Never leave your fire unattended!  
  • Q: Can I hunt on Public Property?  

    Yes.  Hunting is permissible on Government Property during the regulated hunting season.  Areas that are restricted to hunting include developed parks and recreation areas, commercial marinas, safety zones near homes and schools, and Long Hunter State Park and Hamilton Creek Park in their entirety.  There shall be no center fire rifles during deer season.  Other special conditions may apply.  Please visit our hunting page and the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency’s Web Site for more details.  
  • Q: Can I have fireworks?  

     No.  Fireworks, along with explosives, firearms and other weapons (except when legally hunting) are prohibited on Government Property.  More details on this prohibition can be found in Title 36 Rules and Regulations, Section 327.13.  
  • Q: If I own property adjacent to Public Property, can I cut trees, clear underbrush, or mow on that land?  

    No.  At J. Percy Priest Lake there must be a strict adherence to Title 36, Section 327.14 (a. & b.) by everyone including those who own property and/or live immediately adjacent to Public Lands.  The land is there for everyone to enjoy, so you may fish, picnic, walk existing trails, etc.  You may not landscape, clear underbrush, cut trees or mow under any circumstances.  
  • Q: Do you allow private boat docks?  

    No private boat dock permits are issued at J. Percy Priest.  
  • Q: Where can I ride my ATV?  

    You may NOT ride an ATV, off-road vehicle, motorcycle, or other motorized vehicle anywhere on public lands on J. Percy Priest.  For more information pertaining to ATV operation, contact the Resource Managers Office at (615) 889-1975. 
  • Q: Does J. Percy Priest Lake have a Visitors Center?  

    Yes!  We are located near the west side of the dam at 3737 Bell Road.  We are open Monday through Friday 7:30 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. except Federal Holidays.  Please come visit us.  For more information, call (615) 889-1975.

    From Nashville take I-40 E to Exit 219, Stewarts Ferry Pike right to first stoplight, left on Bell Road, second right at “Visitors Center” sign.  
  • Q: Do you honor the Golden Age/Golden Access Passport?

    A: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers no longer issues Golden Age/Golden Access Passports. However, current Golden Age/Access Passport holders or individuals possessing the America the Beautiful Interagency Senior or Access Pass will receive a 50% discount on camping fees. Current Golden Age/Access Passport holders or individuals possessing the America the Beautiful Interagency Senior or Access Pass will also receive free entry into the day use facilities.  Corps of Engineers facilities began issuing America the Beautiful passes January 1, 2016.

  • Q: Does the Corps of Engineers charge entrance fees at parks around J. Percy Priest Lake?  

    No.   However, we do charge a day use fee at selected recreation areas.  The areas on J. Percy Priest Lake charging these fees are Cook and Anderson Road.  These two areas offer sand swimming beaches, playgrounds, launching ramps, bathrooms, picnic sites and picnic shelters.  The fees are $5.00 per private vehicle or $20 per commercial vehicle.  Golden Age/ Access Passports and America the Beautiful Interagency Senior/ Access Passes discounts do not apply for commercial vehicles.  Day Use Annual Passes are available. For more information about day use fees and annual passes, click here.  
  • Q: Are there any trails on J. Percy Priest that I can walk, hike, run, bike or ride horseback?  

    Yes!  Visit our trails page and see the variety of trails J. Percy Priest offers.
  • Q: Can I use my metal detector on J. Percy Priest Lake?

    That depends. Metal detectors are allowed only on public beaches or other previously disturbed areas that do not contain or would not reasonably be expected to contain archaeological, historical, or paleontological resources. Nonidentifiable items, such as coins of nominal value ($25.00 or less) do not need to be deposited with the natural resource manager or ranger; however, identifiable items (rings, watches, etc.) or items of greater than nominal value will be deposited with the natural resource manager or ranger. Digging shall be limited to hand tools that can be used by one hand only. Hand tools shall be limited to 4 inches wide and 12 inches long. All trash uncovered must be removed and placed in an approved trash receptacle. All soil disturbed or displaced shall be returned to its original state. In addition, we would ask that any such approved use of metal detectors take place during times when it will not interfere with the public's recreational use of an area, i.e. not on busy weekends at beaches and recreation areas.  You may use your metal detector at the swim beaches of Cook Day Use, Anderson Road Day Use and Seven Points Campground. The Seven Points Campground Swim Beach is reserved for registered campers and their guests. 


  • Q: When does the lake drawdown occur and when is the water level raised again?

     A: The J. Percy Priest drawdown typically begins in late September or early October at typical summer pool elevation between 489.5 and   490.5 feet above mean sea level (msl). The drawdown will continue until late November or early December to a winter pool elevation of approximately 483 feet above msl.  The lake elevation will remain at winter pool until early March, when the lake elevation is gradually returned to summer pool. Lake elevations can fluctuate during this period because of seasonal rainfalls and other inflows.