Johnson County is home to many types of Attractions with a diversity of theatre, museums, arts, music, historical sites and nature based Attractions. We have four major natural Attractions including Watauga Lake, which is said to be the third cleanest lake in America offering an assortment of paddling and water motor sport activities in clean fresh water, the protected 8,600 acre Doe Mountain Family Wilderness Area, offering several types of Adventure Trails; ATV, Hiking, a Mountain Biking Trail and Horse back riding opportunities.
We are also home to the famous Snake 421 Motorcycle and Sports Car route providing some of the best motorcycle touring in the United States. Johnson County is an American Viticultural Area. Our geographical features allow for the production of high quality grapes at our beautiful local vineyard with two wineries offering wines made from these locally grown grapes. Here you can taste wines, dine and attend one of the many events held at the vineyard.
Another great attraction provided by our beautiful natural resources is a scenic mountain golf course offering a challenging and memorable golfing experience. Open only to members or those who rent cabins or homes on the golf course.
Inside the Johnson County Welcome Center, is a mini-museum showcasing historical information, artifacts and pictures showing our past. It depicts our rural Appalachian Culture and our long Musical Heritage. There is no cost to tour this small museum. The museum is also a treasure trove of genealogical information.
The high quality displays in this Museum will amaze you, as it portrays the relocation of the town of Butler, to make way for the creation of Watauga Lake. The historical displays bring to life the story of the “Town That Would Not Drown”. This is a great family activity to do together. Guided tours are available by appointment during the summer season. It is also open weekends from Memorial Day through the last weekend in October.
Heritage Hall is in a restored turn of the century building and offers first class theatrical productions and musical performances. They keep an active calendar during most of the year. Be sure to check out their event calendar to see what is happening during your vacation to our area.
Johnson County Center for the Arts
When you are vacationing in our area, be sure to visit the Johnson County Arts Center. They showcase crafts and products made by artisans in the Appalachian Mountains. Here you can tour and participate in ongoing classes. Be sure to check out their calendar of events and classes.
Trade Grist Mill
A favorite family attraction is the restored Grist Mill located at the community park in Trade, Tennessee. This was an authentic functioning grist mill which was a major part of the community in days gone by. There are plenty of local events held in this community park and a large annual festival showcasing Native American History. Be sure to find out what events are happening when you visit our area. This is a great activity for families to share together. Check them out on Facebook.
This is a Family Wilderness Area offering 8,600 acres of mountain terrain with ATV Trails, Hiking Trails and Mountain Biking Trails. There are two main Attractions at this mountain adventure area that offer great views. Kettlefoot Fire Tower sits on top of Doe Mountain and provides long range views in to Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina. Chimney Rock Overlook is a short hike with breathtaking views of Roan Creek Valley and beyond towards Asheville. Bring your family and friends to explore and share a memorable adventure.
Red Tail Golf
Red Tail Golf Resort is a top rated Tennessee golf destination. They offer a challenging nine hole golf course in a beautiful mountain setting that will provide you with a memorable golf experience. There is a first rate club house, a nice restaurant with a high end and tavern and great lodging options. There is a first rate club house, a nice Vista’s Land and Sea Restaurant with a high end tavern and great lodging options. Starting in late May 2018, Red Tail will become a private golf course for members and guests only. Staying on site allows you to golf privileges.
Vineyard & Winery
Johnson County is proud to be recognized as an American Viticultural Area, because of our geographical features for growing quality grapes, for producing excellent wines. We have a beautiful vineyard near Watauga Lake that produces quality grapes that are used by two local wineries to make excellent wine. Watauga Lake Winery offers wine tasting and tours of their facilities. Dining is available at the vineyard where you will enjoy great views. Be sure to check out their calendar of events, since they have an active event schedule.
Watauga Lake is one of the cleanest lakes in America and is a choice family lake destination in the Appalachian Mountains. Here you will find clean cool water offering an excellent lake experience. Most of the 110 miles of shoreline are protected from development helping to keep the lake pristine with low usage. This fresh water lake offers great swimming, good fishing, inspiring canoeing and kayaking, wind surfing and all types of water motor sports.
Watauga River flows from the Grandfather Mountain area in the North Carolina High Country to Watauga Lake in Northeast Tennessee. The river exits the lake on the North West side filtering through Watauga Dam and stores at Wilbur Dam. When Wilbur Dam is opened, some exciting easy to moderate white water is created making for a great family and group rafting trip.
This incredible 2,100 mile hiking trail offers one of the best hiking adventures in the world. If you are coming from the north, The Appalachian Trial travels through Johnson County and across the dam at Watauga Lake into Carter County and onward to Roan Mountain area. There are several good access points to the trail in our area, allowing for hikers to be able to section hike as desired.
Back Bone Rock
Backbone Rock is a natural wonder and is known as the shortest railroad tunnel in the world. When traveling through the Cherokee National Forest from Shady Valley, Tennessee, towards Damascus, Virginia, you will encounter this tunnel rock formation that hovers over the road. It is definitely worth stopping to check out this unique rock formation. You can actually climb the stairs to the top of the tunnel and look down on the road. There are some short hiking trails around the rock formation, a trail bathroom, flowing creek and a rustic picnic pavilion. The Appalachian Trail also passes right near Backbone Rick.
The Snake 421
If you are a motorcycle rider, you have probably heard of the famous Snake Series of Motorcycle Rides, which are located in Northeast Tennessee, and offer some of the best motorcycle touring in the Southeastern United States. There are several Snake Rides, with the most popular being the “Best of the Snake”, which travels a loop from right near Mountain City, Tennessee to Shady Valley, Tennessee, to Damascus, Virginia and back to Mountain City. Whatever ride in the Snake Series you choose to ride, be sure to stop at the Shady Valley General Store which serves as the hub for the Snake Rides. Here you can purchase Snake merchandise and get information. If you are on the east side of Iron Mountain, be sure to stop in at the Corncreek Campground, which is a Snake information center.