Winter Wonders

Don't let a little cold weather keep you indoors. Get out there and discover the unique beauty and fun of TVA public land in winter. Here are five ways to do just that: photography, fishing, hiking, birdwatching and hunting.

1. Take Pictures

Granted, there are no wildflowers to be zoomed in upon, but winter photography has its stark charms: the skeletal outlines of trees, the curves of hillsides and shorelines visible through the interstices of branches, the prickle and berry of holly and evergreen, the rocks and mosses normally buried under summer brush—maybe even the fleeting beauty of ice or snow transforming the landscape into a thing of wonder. Plus, patience pays dividends for the winter photographer, who might more easily capture pictures of Valley wildlife; fish, fowl and mammal are all on display during the fallow season, and easier to spot than in lusher, leafier months. Shoot from a well-traveled trail, or explore the undeveloped wild side—either way, TVA offers 293,000 acres of public land to fill your frame.

2. Cast a Line

Fishing is a year-round pastime, and TVA’s unique reservoir system makes winter a particularly good time to trout fish in the tailwaters that lie below each dam. The steady temperatures create a more constant source of food (bugs) than can be found elsewhere in colder creeks and rivers, and therefore provide an excellent habitat for trout. Locations with trout fisheries include the waters below Apalachia, Norris, South Holston, Wilbur, Blue Ridge, Tims Ford, Boone, Chatuge, Fort Patrick Henry, Hiwassee, Ocoee No. 1 (Parksville), NormandyNottely and Cherokee dams. Learn more about how to have a successful expedition with our Q&A on Trout Fishing the TVA Tailwaters, or get the inside line from our article The Tug Is the Drug.

3. Hike, Bike or Plan a Trail Ride

Winter is a great time to take advantage of the nearly 160 miles of trails on TVA public land. You can see views hidden in the summer by leaves and other vegetation, and if you run into anyone, they are apt to be likeminded individuals who also appreciate nature’s cold solitude. The quiet stillness increases your chances of spotting wildlife along the trail, too. Still not sold? Consider the fact that you won’t even have to douse yourself with mosquito repellant or worry about poison ivy! Whether you’re on feet, wheels or hooves, find your trail with our interactive trail guide.

4. Watch the Birds

From the majestic Bald Eagle to the small, squat Black-Crowned Night Heron, birdwatching in the Tennessee Valley provides opportunities to explore dozens of habitats featuring hundreds of birds. Winter is a prime time for birdwatching as many species migrate through the Valley on their way to warmer places, and the lack of foliage makes the birds easier to spot.  Birdwatching continues to grow in popularity, and TVA works closely with state wildlife agencies to build and protect designated habitats that attract an amazing avian array each year. Areas for prime viewing in the East include Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge and Wilbur Dam. Good birdwatching areas in the Western TVA region include the Camden Wildlife Refuge, Paris Landing, Cross Creeks and Land Between the Lakes.

5. Go Hunting

Hunting is a time-honored way to bring friends and families together during the coldest months of the year, and TVA offers plenty of open space to pursue the sport—230,000 acres of undeveloped public land to be exact. You’ll need a hunting license issued by your state, a good understanding of what’s in season when, orange hunting wear to maintain visibility (safety first!), some smart pre-planning (use our undeveloped recreation map to plan your outing) and a healthy respect for your natural surroundings. Leave the hunting grounds just as you found them, and chances are you’ll find even more deer, turkeys, ducks, squirrels and rabbits next year. Get more tips from TVA hunting pros in our feature stories Hunters Welcome; Duck, Duck, Goose; and Cold Weather Makes Valley Waterfowl Hunting Red Hot