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Houseboat Vacations


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Ten years ago our family spent a week houseboating at Lake Powell. It truly was an awsome experience and a beautiful place. However, hauling thee weeks worth of stuff, two teenagers, and a skiboat from Michigan to Utah was brutal. Now we are planning another houseboat vacation closer to home and need opinions as to some good lakes. The trip would be in Aug of 2009 and our top three lakes are

Cumberland, Norris, and Dale Hollow. PLease give us feedback as to which lake and why. Thanks for the help!

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I've been on Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow. Between those two choices I would go with Dale Hollow. Its a little less populated and kind of in the middle of the nowhere, but its some of the prettiest water you'll ever see. Its a shale bottom lake and is crystal clear. You definately won't have to worry about being overrun with crowds. They are still plenty of places on that lake to get off by yourself if you want. I think it would be a great choice for a houseboat vacay. Cumberland is not a bad choice either. Never been to Norris.

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Lake Shuswap in Eastern BC. Big beautifully maintained boats in gorgeous country. The time we went we had a 54' that had four seperate rooms, two bathrooms, 10 seat dining room table, 8 person hottub and a slide. Weather was 90+ the whole week.

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Lake Shuswap in Eastern BC. Big beautifully maintained boats in gorgeous country. The time we went we had a 54' that had four seperate rooms, two bathrooms, 10 seat dining room table, 8 person hottub and a slide. Weather was 90+ the whole week.

That is a long long trip from Michigan. But you are right the Shuswaps are great.

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Ten years ago our family spent a week houseboating at Lake Powell. It truly was an awsome experience and a beautiful place. However, hauling thee weeks worth of stuff, two teenagers, and a skiboat from Michigan to Utah was brutal. Now we are planning another houseboat vacation closer to home and need opinions as to some good lakes. The trip would be in Aug of 2009 and our top three lakes are

Cumberland, Norris, and Dale Hollow. PLease give us feedback as to which lake and why. Thanks for the help!

Out of the three lakes you have listed Dale Hollow would be my choice. On the cumberland plato the lake is away from most development and you will be able to get a cove to yourself. The water is cleer and a bit cooler during August than the other lakes listed.

Enjoy the trip and be sure to let the rest of us know how it went. I took the family to Cashiers NC during the summer it was like going to a week long boat show. There were high end wake and ski boats everwhere. However with all the boats aroud finding smooth water was impossible, it was like being at a high end boat show.

Hope this helps.

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We did the Dale Hollow trip three years ago and my ski bud did it again last year. Thumbup.gif It is one of the best within a one day drive. If you go down check out Wisdom Docks, they had some nice boats and were under some of the other prices we look into. We went with one other family and got the 72' six bedrooms two baths hot tub slide. It had an I.O and was not bad with fuel. we used more fuel with the generator then in the boat. we moved to a different cove every day. We were always able to find glass in a cove or morning or evening. The boat also had half of the upper deck with a sun cover and a flying bridge so any time spent moving around the lake we navigated from the upper bridge.

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We've done cabins on all three you've mentioned and house boats on Dale Hollow. As others have said Dale Hollow is probably the nicest for spending time on the water. It's not nearly as busy as Cumberland and since Norris has waterfront residents it also always seemed busy to me. Norris and Dale Hollow both seem cleaner than Cumberland. However, I don't think the facilities around Norris (Marinas) are as nice as what is on Cumberland or DHL.

We've checked out every place for renting house boats on Dale Hollow, and for some reason keep going back to Sunset Dock. It's a small detail but Sunsets boats have tile flooring instead of carpet. They don't seem to have the musty "lake water smell" like everyone elses did so we have stuck with them. I know some of the other Marinas have new boats so that's probably an unfair judgement on my part. Overall I think Sunset, Eagle Cove, Hastings and Wisdoms (new boats) were all fairly nice. We go with our neighbors and thier kids so a 4 bedroom, 2 bath layout has always worked best for us. I think Sunset is the only place that has that configuration so we've stuck with it.

I don't think you would be disappointed at any of the lakes but it also depends on what you are planning on doing. Some details might be helpful for others to give some more specific advice.

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Since both are only 4 or 5 hours drive from Indy, we spend most of our water time at Cumberland and Dale Hollow. We are usually on the lake about 4 long weekends every summer.

DHL is my favorite - the shores are a little more sloping and it is easier to find a place to go up on shore if you want. Sunset is our favorite dock, also try Eagles Cove & Holly Creek (partners) and Sulphur Creek. Holly Creek and Suphur Creek are on the northwest part of the lake, so quickest to get to. Sunset and Eagles Cove are southeast and a little further to drive. The lake is big, but lots of long creeks and places to hide. The main part of the lake gets choppy during winds and busy weekends, but the other parts are usually calm.

Cumberland is also great, but it is lowered right now due to major repairs on the dam. Still a huge and beautiful lake, and the marinas are offering deals to get people there due to the bad publicity.

Sunset has been offering special deals for booking now for summer 2009. They have a good website.

There is at least 1 "public" ski course at DHL - hard to find but in a nice, secluded spot. There are also some small cliffs for jumping in - the kids love them.

Also, if you want to add some camping or cabin time to the trip, Obey River Campground (Army Corps) is next door to Sunset and has several spots on the water's edge. Sunset has nice cabins and so does Eagles Cove.

If you have specific questions or want more details, post them or PM me and I am happy to share. I have stayed at or visited every marina on the lake! Most are good, a few are great, and one i will never go back to.... There are some excellent restaurants on the water.

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For houseboating - easily Dale Hollow. We've rented from several Marinas (Wolf, Hendricks, Eagle Cove - Hendricks boats were the nicest, but the drive into the marina was the steepest hill.) I've camped by Sunset & they would be my next choice just because of the availability of nice water nearby.

A close second would be Flat Hollow on Norris (Don't rent from Powell Valley). Drive time would be about the same and the houseboats are nice & well maintained. They are pretty far up the lake, so it's not nearly as busy as most of the other marinas renting houseboats on Norris. We typically stay in lake front houses on Norris and prefer that.

I didn't like Cumberland when we house boated on it. Too busy & choppy to find good skiing water.

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For houseboating - easily Dale Hollow. We've rented from several Marinas (Wolf, Hendricks, Eagle Cove - Hendricks boats were the nicest, but the drive into the marina was the steepest hill.) I've camped by Sunset & they would be my next choice just because of the availability of nice water nearby.

A close second would be Flat Hollow on Norris (Don't rent from Powell Valley). Drive time would be about the same and the houseboats are nice & well maintained. They are pretty far up the lake, so it's not nearly as busy as most of the other marinas renting houseboats on Norris. We typically stay in lake front houses on Norris and prefer that.

I didn't like Cumberland when we house boated on it. Too busy & choppy to find good skiing water.

I completely agree with Flat Hollow. Great place to stay and there is a lot of good water with less boat traffic. We usually stay lakefront as well.

Have not been to Dale Hollow and my experience with Cumberland is limited.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"I don't think you would be disappointed at any of the lakes but it also depends on what you are planning on doing. Some details might be helpful for others to give some more specific advice."

We hope to slalom ski morning and evening and Wakeboard and Hydrofoil in the afternoon (in between Happy Hours). We understand Norris has 2 ski courses but does anyone know what is available at Dale Hollow? We plan to cruise around and take in the scenerywhen not skiing. Which lake is bigger,Norris or Dale Hollow? Thanks for your input. I will most likely have more questions later.

Boatman

Edited by Boatman
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There is at least one course on Dale Hollow, I believe it is on Pusley or Fanny Creek (those are the real names).

Dale Hollow is bigger than Norris Lake, but a little smaller than Cumberland.

I highly recommend investing in a good lake map. They will show relative deths, marina's, campgrounds, etc.

Three great "cruises" on the lake - the lake is the Obey River & Wolf Rivers -

On the Southeastern leg of the lake -

Obey River, south of Sunset Marina. The lake basically ends at East Port Marina, about 12 miles from the bridge at Sunset.

Turn on your depth finder - it gets narrow and shallow but is a beautiful cruise.

Eagle Creek, south from the main channel of the Obey River.

This is about a 2-1/2 mile long creek. follow it as far as you can - it is awesome.

It is also a great creek to ski out of from the end, back up tot he main channel.

On the northeastern leg of the lake -

Go east past Trooper Island, the State Park and Wolf River Marina. About 2 miles past Wolf River there river makes a U turn, and there are small "cliffs" for jumping. After a stop there, continue on up the river as far as you feel comfortable. Again, it gets narrow and shallow, and slowly becomes Wolf River.

Also, at many of the "intersections" on the lake, there are signs on the shore that will point you to specific creeks or marinas. The can be a big help, but they are matural wood and blend into the shoreline trees so you have to look for them.

OK, now after my time as 'tour director' i am ready for a trip!

Edited by Soon2BV
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Like some of the others, we regularly go to all three throughout the summer. I've been doing a week long camping trip @ DH for more than 10 years now every July and wouldn't trade it for the world. I do long weekends at the other two also.

You're fortunate, IMO, to be able to choose b/w these three lakes. Whatever you choose, you'll have a blast.

DH courses are at Jolly Creek and Fanny Creek. Both are well maintained and easy on your driver. Both are also fairly well protected from wind and rollers off of the lake.

The courses that I've been to at Cumberland are just past Grider Hill Dock. When the lake was up (it's down 52' right now and will be for this summer) these were the best courses I've ever been too. Now, they are very tight. If you have an expert driver, you can do it. If you're driver gets spooked easily about TIGHT spaces, don't try it.

The only course I was at on Norris was, as I remember, just off of the main lake. I wasn't impressed. It seemed to be affected by the main lake quite a bit. The rest of the lake is great and there may be other courses, but I don't know of any. If you go past Flat Hollow though, it can be a barefooter's delight.

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You will enjoy any of the three, hopefully this will help you narrow it down...

If you don't care about the course, just free skiing, I prefer Norris overall - at least up around the Flat Hollow area, but we typically rent houses instead of houseboats, but Flat Hollow houseboats are very nice. (I can't help you with the southern part of the lake). There is typically nice water available almost all the time. However, getting to the rest of the lake is a decent cruise from Flat Hollow (20 mins to the main junction).

If you want a course in the AM/PM & boarding/surfing rest of the time, I'd recommend Dale Hollow. Two very nice & well maintained courses - as listed above - near Wisdom Dock (Fanny Creek) & Star Point dock (Jolly Creek). Both are nice & have places to pull over & watch. I prefer the one near star as it's a little more open & better protected from traffic & stray rollers. I don't believe that either have magnets. There are some nice protected houseboat coves pretty close to the Fanny Creek course.

Norris is bigger (36K acres vs 27K acres) but it seems much longer. I've been into most nooks & crannies of Dale Hollow, but have nearly half of Norris to explore yet (Southern lake, up lake of marker 17) & have spent more time on Norris. The scenery is comparable between the two depending on where you are. Norris has houses on some of the shore, where Dale Hollow does not. In general, most Marinas on Norris are nicer - restaurants, bars, etc, though Dale Hollow does have some nice ones (Sunset & Sulphur Creek). Dale Hollow & the surrounding counties are mostly dry (you can find some beer in the TN marinas, but not in the KY marinas). Norris is beer & malt beverages only, so be prepared (for your happy hours - after boating's done of course).

Norris does have a few courses, but they are pretty far apart - one well maintained one is near Twin Cove, but the rest of the water around there gets pretty busy & it does get rollers from the main part of the lake. There is another part way up Big Creek (about half way between markers 5 & 6), but it is not always maintained & more subject to rollers. It had a total of 8 bouys on it last June & 5 the August before. Just enough to keep it floating. Not sure if any of the marinas near those courses rent houseboats.

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Dale Hollow is bigger than Norris Lake, but a little smaller than Cumberland.
Norris is bigger (36K acres vs 27K acres) but it seems much longer

Ooops, my bad. Thanks weinrdog.

From the usace websites -

Dale Hollow - 27K acres, 620 miles of shoreline

Norris - 34K acres, 809 miles of shoreline

Cumberland - 50K acres, 1255 miles of shoreline

I may have to give Norris a try, never been to that one.....

Thumbup.gif

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Norris can be very nice, but you really want to stay away from the Deerfield/Spring/Sugar Hollow/Shanghai area unless you want to cruise for 20+ mins looking for decent water after about 10A. Much longer to find fantastic water.

We like the areas around (east of) Flat Hollow & Whitman Hollow as reasonable on all but the busiest weekend days most of the summer.

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We have boated on all three - Dale Hollow, Norris and Cumberland. We've houseboated on two (Cumberland and Norris). I don't think you could go wrong with any, but Dale is certainly much smaller. Cumberland has a dam leak issue and so the Army Corps has lowered the water level about 40' from normal summer pool. It has been like that for the past two summers. The lake is so deep it doesn't matter, except the nice creeks and off-main-lake areas of the lakes don't go as far back as they used to, so it is not as easy to find the glass water all day long.

I would vote for Norris. Crystal clear water, and you can go about 50 miles up the Clinch River and 70 miles up the Powell River (both damed to form Norris). The lake is very deep - never hit a thing in all the years I have been going there. Just beautiful - lots of room to roam.

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks for all of the input. After much consideration, we chose Lake Norris. A buddy of mine went there last year and had a blast. We booked thru Sequoia and got a great deal. After looking at his family photos we had a real good idea of what the houseboat and the surrounding area looks like and we feel quite comfortable with our choice. It will be interesting to see how this trip differs from our Lake Powell trip. I'm guessing 'apples & oranges'. We expect 12-14 people, my 'bu and my friends' 08 MC 197, slalom, trick, and shoe skis, wakeboards, surfboard, Sky Ski, and tubes. I hope we have time to use them all in between "Happy Hours" Cheers.gif .

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  • 3 weeks later...

dont forget about table rock lake it is pretty nice too. I have not been to dhl but have been to cumberlin and norris and they are great. wish i had a boat but maybe soon :)

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