The Townsend Wye Swimming Area

The Townsend Wye is a popular local swimming area, just inside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park entrance.

Townsend Wye river in siummer
Townsend Wye in Summer

Y or Wye

The Wye (or Y) is where the Little River and Middle Prong of the Little River converge, joining in a Y shape.

It’s called the Townsend Wye, and you’ll find it on Google Maps that way. But you’ll hear locals refer to it as “The Y”.

Whenever we post a picture of the area on our Facebook page, there’ll often be a few comments about how it’s “actually the Y, not the Wye”

But anyway, if you can’t find it, just ask someone where the Y is.

Townsend Wye rivers joining together
Townsend Wye Rivers Joining

Getting There

From Townsend, you’ll head south just a couple miles, past the entrance sign (a great place to take a picture).

Townsend Great Smoky Mountains National Park Entrance sign
Townsend Great Smoky Mountains National Park Entrance Sign

You’ll find the Wye parking area on the left.

As you can see below there’s not a whole lot of parking spots here.

Parking is difficult to find on a hot weekend day. Arriving early in the day or visiting on a weekday will help you find a spot.

A few other smaller areas back up the road toward the sign.

Townsend Wye parking lot
Townsend Wye Parking Lot

Remember that as of 2023, you’ll need a parking tag if you park your car for more than 15 minutes inside the national park.

There are machines to purchase these at the end of the parking lot. You can buy one for $5 a day, but there’s cheaper options for weekly and annual passes

Townsend Wye parking tag machines
Townsend Wye Parking Tag Machines

There are no facilities like bathrooms here, so you’d need to go back a couple of miles into Townsend for them.

Swimming Area

There’s a huge swimming area here. While there are many people in the summer, there’s plenty of room to spread out.

Some of our pictures and videos were taken in the winter and spring, and the area looks a lot different in the summer. But there’s also way more people in the summer, so it’s harder to get good pictures.

The video above is taken from the rocky beach area. The beach area is pretty big, but rocky.

On this March day below, it was just us and a Goose enjoying the beach.

goose at the Townsend Wye
Townsend Wye Goose

The picture below is taken from the same area, looking south.

Townsend Wye river in the spring
Townsend Wye River in Spring

The swimming area varies between shallow areas and parts deep enough that one cannot touch the bottom.

Use caution walking around in the water, the bottom is rocky and slippery.

Just past the area in the picture above is where the river splits into two.

This picture below is taken from the small bridge at the end of the parking lot, with a view of the rivers joining.

Townsend Wye
Townsend Wye in March

This is the view from the other side of the bridge.

Townsend Wye River Bridge
Townsend Wye Bridge


If you found this info helpful, let us know in the comments below!

Townsend Wye geese
Townsend Wye Geese

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