See The Sights At Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area

Glimpse elk, bison, and eagles on public land located across Kentucky and Tennessee.

If you’re in search of adventure between Kentucky and Tennessee, Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) invites you to explore. The area spans 170,000 picturesque acres and is located on an inland peninsula between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. It stretches across the border between Tennessee and Kentucky, with around 60,000 acres of the recreation area located in Tennessee, and about 110,000 in Kentucky. According to LBL, “It makes up one of the largest contiguous blocks of public land in the southeastern United States.” On a visit to the area, visitors have the opportunity to camp, fish, sightsee, and catch glimpses of the elk and bison that call the land home. 

Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

Robbie Caponetto

According to Kentucky Tourism, “Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area draws visitors from around the world to escape into nature. People also enjoy the authentic experiences provided by Woodlands Nature Station, Elk & Bison Prairie, Homeplace 1850s Working Farm, and Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory.” In addition to the scenic drives, attractions, and activities described below, there are more than 500 trails criss-crossing the area that are used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

Land Between the Lakes

Robbie Caponetto

Elk and Bison Prairie

One of the highlights of the area is the Elk and Bison Prairie, which, according to LBL, “offers a native grassland habitat that was once common in Kentucky more than a century ago. Elk and bison roam free within this 700-acre enclosure.” When you visit, you can traverse the habitat from the safety of your enclosed vehicle (no pedestrians, bicycles, or motorcycles, per safety guidelines). Drive the paved loop and keep an eye out for elk, bison, birds, and other wildlife. May is a good time to see the new bison calves, and the best time to see them moving about in the tall grasses is in the early morning and late afternoon. To hear the elks bugling (calling to each other during mating season), be sure to visit in fall. LBL recommends afternoons from the middle of September to the middle of October to give you the best opportunity to hear their distinctive calls. 

Camping at Land Between The Lakes

Many camping opportunities exist in the recreation area. In fact, “You may camp almost anywhere in Land Between the Lakes,” according to LBL. There are different guidelines, fees, and permits for different types of stays, though, including backpacking, basic camping, developed campgrounds, dispersed camping, and self-service campgrounds. See the LBL website for rules on each form of camping. 

Land Between the Lakes

Robbie Caponetto

Fishing and Boating at Land Between The Lakes

According to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, “Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley comprise one of the world’s largest man-made bodies of water. Combined, they contain nearly 220,000 surface acres of water and a 1.75 mile long canal connects them at the northern end.” A state fishing license is required to fish in the waters surrounding LBL. There, you’ll encounter the “many varieties of fish found in the lakes including largemouth, smallmouth, and Kentucky spotted bass; bream; black and white crappie; white and yellow bass; blue catfish; channel catfish; bluegill and other sunfish; and sauger.” Because the area is located on an inland peninsula between two lakes, there are 300 miles of undeveloped shore with plenty of boating ramps available to help launch a waterborne adventure. In the winter months, there are also eagle tours, boat excursions through Kentucky Lake that allow you to glimpse the bald eagles that winter in the area. 

You can find more information at or stop by the visitors center, which is located in Golden Pond, Kentucky.

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