Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area
238 Visitor Center Drive
Golden Pond, KY 42211
Land Between the Lakes is the largest inland peninsula in the United States. Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area manages more than 170,000 acres as part of the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture’s public lands program. Located in western Kentucky and Tennessee, the area draws approximately 1.5 million visitors annually. With 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline on Kentucky and Barkley lakes, the area offers outdoor recreation and numerous facilities. Facilities include a nature station, a living history farm, a planetarium and observatory, a horseback riding campground and stables, an off-highway vehicle area, the Elk & Bison Prairie, the Iron Industry Ruins, gift shops and visitor information centers.
There are more than 500 miles of trails and roughly 200 miles of scenic roads for hiking, biking, horseback riding and taking in the area’s scenic beauty. Campers can choose from 1,400 campsites, ranging from RV sites with shower and restroom facilities to primitive campsites. Many campsites offer lake access. Other outdoor recreation opportunities include birding, fishing, geocaching, hunting, swimming, target shooting and more.
Land Between the Lakes has three sites on the National Register of Historic Places: Fort Henry, site of a major Civil War battle; the Center Furnace; and the Great Western Iron Furnace. The region was primarily an iron production center during the mid-19th century. The ruins of two of the area’s iron furnaces are accessible to visitors.
Wildlife and Plants
Land Between the Lakes has the largest publicly owned bison herd east of the Mississippi River and more than 1,300 plant species, approximately 260 bird species and 55 different mammal species. Land Between the Lakes was an active participant in the nation’s efforts to re-establish the eagle population in western Kentucky and Tennessee. Other wildlife includes bats, bobcats, coyotes, deer, foxes, herons, hummingbirds, muskrats, osprey, squirrels, turkeys, turtles, vultures, woodpeckers and more. For more information about recent wildlife sightings and wildlife viewing opportunities, stop by the Woodlands Nature Station.
Attractions at Land Between the Lakes include the Homeplace living history farm, Woodlands Nature Station, Elk & Bison Prairie, and Golden Pond Planetarium and Observatory.
The Homeplace, in the southern portion of Land Between the Lakes, allows visitors to experience life much as it was in mid-19th century rural America. Through a blending of artifacts, historic structures and the
re-creation of farm activities, the Homeplace gives visitors a glimpse of the traditions and lifestyles of this era in American history.
The nature station offers special events throughout the year in addition to the regular calendar of programs and demonstrations. Among the most popular events are guided bald eagle excursions. These van and boat tours take visitors into the field to see the migratory bald eagle population wintering in the area.
The Elk & Bison Prairie is another fascinating Land between the Lakes attraction. Opened in June 1996, this 700-acre area is a restoration of the native prairie habitat that thrived in western Kentucky and upper middle Tennessee over 200 years ago. Native wildlife such as elk and bison inhabit the prairie. Visitors can take a self-guided driving tour of the prairie along a 3.5-mile paved loop featuring interpretive stops.
The Golden Pond Planetarium is inside the Golden Pond Visitor Center. The planetarium features an 81-seat theater and offers state-of-the-art planetarium shows year-round. It’s also home to the Western Kentucky Amateur Astronomers, which holds meetings and stargazing sessions.