Construction on Wheeler Dam began in 1933 and completed in 1936. Wheeler was the second dam that TVA built and is located in northern Alabama. The reservoir helps cover the shallow, rocky area that made navigating this stretch of the Tennessee River hazardous. Private industry has invested about $1.3 billion in the waterfront plants and terminals at Decatur, Alabama, the largest city on the reservoir.
The dam and reservoir are named after "Fightin' Joe" Joseph Wheeler, a general in the Confederate army and a leader of the United States Volunteers during the Spanish-American War.
For more information about TVA dams, visit www.tva.gov.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors serving more than 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. For more information about TVA and its mission of service to the Tennessee Valley, click here.
Today, Wheeler Reservoir is a major recreation and a tourist center. Along with camping, fishing and boating, visitors enjoy the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge several miles upstream from the dam. The refuge which lies within the Mississippi Flyway gets tremendous use by waterfowl, neotropical’s and Sandhill cranes, many of which overwinter there. The Wildlife Refuge is also home to Alabama’s largest duck population and is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Marbut Bend Trail near Athens, Alabama is a 1.1-mile loop trail that has an elevated boardwalk through a beaver pond and crosses a small wetland and swamp area. A fishing pier extends out into Richland Creek. The trail is part boardwalk and part compacted gravel making it easy to navigate.
Visit TVA's trails page for more information.
Painted Bluff has been touted as one of “the most significant open-air rock art occurrences in the southeastern United States”. The site contains over 80 individual recorded Native American glyphs that include common southeastern motifs such as human effigies, ovals, circles, serpents, animal effigies, and birds. It likely dates to A.D. 1400 and is considered eligible for the National Register of Historic Places because of the information potentially associated with the Mississippian period in North Alabama and in the Southeastern United States. There are red, yellow and orange hematite pictographs and engravings along two separate ledges of the bluff along the Tennessee River. Open-air rock-art sites of this type are very unique to the southeast and Painted Bluff represents one of the most significant in the region. Visit TVA’s Cultural Resources page for more information.
Joe Wheeler State Park flanks both ends of Wheeler Dam. Amenities include cabins, campsites, trails, golf course, a marina, boat rentals, a beach, tennis courts, restaurant, lodge, a disc golf course and basketball courts.
All Seasons; check with Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and Joe Wheeler State Park for closings.
How to Get There
From Huntsville: Take US-72 west towards Florence; turn left onto AL-101 west of Rogersville. Or take US-72A west to AL-101 and turn right.
Visitor centers, trails, boat ramps and canoe access points operated by TVA are provided to the public with no fee; check with Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge and Joe Wheeler State Park for user fees on their properties.
ADA Accessibility Notes
ADA accessibility available at fishing pier, pavilion, picnic tables, restrooms, water fountains
Pet Friendly Notes
Pets welcome but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6-feet. TVA is a partner of Leave No Trace and requests that visitors follow Leave No Trace practices, including picking up after your pet.