Welcome to Dayton Rhea County


The historical Rhea County Courthouse was the scene for a legendary landmark legal case, the Scopes Trial.

The trial—one of the first to be referred to as the “trial of the century”—resulted from the teaching of evolution being banned in Tennessee public schools. The annual Scopes Festival in July re-enacts portions of the trial and tells the story about how the famous trial came to be litigated in the small southern town of Dayton, Tennessee.

Area residents enjoy an active historical society which meets at the Rhea County Historical Courthouse. The Dayton Country Club offers an 18-hole semi-private golf course. Within a 30-minute drive, golfers can play the Jack Nicklaus-designed Bear Trace Golf Course at Harrison Bay.

Among Rhea County outdoors recreation, boating, swimming, skiing and fishing are popular at Lake Chickamauga, named by Bassmaster Magazine as the 7th best bass fishing lake in the U.S., and at Watts Bar Lake. Rhea County hosts numerous fishing tournaments, with the Chickamauga Big Bass Fishing Tournament drawing major competition. Dayton has declared itself “the new bass fishing capital of the South.”

Hike trails at Stinging Fork Falls Natural Area and Cumberland Trail State Park, a Tennessee hiking trail following a line of ridges and gorges along the Cumberland Plateau. Piney Falls State Natural Area is a 1.7 mile loop trail located near Grandview, Tennessee. The trail is rated as moderate and primarily used for hiking & nature trips.

Wildlife lovers and birders can find plenty to watch at Hiwassee Refuge, where you can observe numbers of blue heron in winter, and also at Chickamauga Wildlife Management Area, where the Tennessee and Hiwassee River watersheds provide a variety of waterfowl and Sandhill cranes. Flatwater kayaking and canoeing is also permitted at Chickamauga.

Dayton is a Main Street Community with vibrant downtown shopping and dining. Spring City also has several quaint shopping opportunities. In May, Dayton’s Main Street is the scene for the Tennessee Strawberry Festival with numerous craft and food vendors.


Rhea County offers small-town living in close proximity to many diverse shopping, dining, cultural and entertainment opportunities. The region’s natural beauty, heritage and the low cost of living make it a standout for retirees.

Examples of 200k Homes

image description Spacious Rancher $205,000 2,160 square feet
image description Spectacular Views $199,000 2,114 square feet
image description Beautiful Brick Home $194,000 1,938 square feet

Healthcare is always high on the list of community considerations. Rhea Medical Center operates its new state-of-the-art $25 million facility with a staff equipped to meet the needs of area residents of all ages, with private rooms and high-resolution digital equipment. iVantage Health Analytics listed Rhea Medical Center as one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the U.S. for 2013.

Tax & Living Expenses

Recently, Tennessee earned a number-one spot among states considered prime retirement locations in a Bankrate.com study. Ranked by data such as climate, tax rates, cost of living and access to healthcare, Tennessee has a cost of living 9.6% below the national average.

Our state and local tax burden is the third lowest in the nation, with residents enjoying no income tax except on interest and dividends. State sales tax is 7%; 5% for food.

Tennessee has no state property tax. Property taxes are locally determined and collected.
Rhea County consistently ranks as having one of the lowest county property tax burdens of Tennessee’s 95 counties. 

The median home value in Rhea County is $162,959.

Higher Education

Retirees may advance their education through Bryan College, Chattanooga State, Lee College, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Experience Living in Rhea County

Initially, we had our minds set on a more populated city in Tennessee. However, as we started exploring surrounding areas, we fell in love with Rhea County and its small town community feel. Several desirable homes were on the market. We loved the minimal traffic and how nice it was to not be in a 'concrete jungle.' Incredible to us were the many recreational areas for hiking in the area mountain ranges and fantastic fishing and views on Watts Bar Lake. Rhea County simply felt like a place where we could truly feel at home. - Anonymous
There's nothing more peaceful than being on Watts Bar Lake and looking at a sunset. From here, you can go to some of the most beautiful mountains. From my backyard, I don't have to go anywhere. I can see it all! - Eddie Jessup


Rhea County can take some of the hassle out of your lifestyle visit. We have arranged discounts with select hotels and have coordinated VIP treatment for our visitors with participating development partners (subject to availability).


Discover Tennessee Tour

Tennessee’s array of amenities will please any interest. Whether you enjoy a active lifestyle or prefer a more leisurely pace, Tennessee provides natural beauty, a mild climate, urban conveniences and rural peacefulness.

Contact us for your personal tour of a Retire TN county.

Download the Discover (Rhea Co.) TN Tour PDF »