Bring bathing suits, water shoes, and fishing poles for a campout beside Tennessee’s largest manmade lake.
A favorite of sport fishermen in search of crappie and bass, the 160,300-acre Kentucky Lake is also a fun choice for campers wanting to hit the water on water skis, jet skis, and pleasure boats. The completion of the Kentucky Dam along the north-flowing Tennessee River created the massive lake, which stretches from western Kentucky south into Tennessee and features 2,300 miles of shoreline. The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, which has four developed campgrounds, sprawls across the forested peninsula that separates Kentucky Lake from Lake Barkley to the east. Kentucky Lake is 90 miles northwest of Nashville.
Bonjour, ya’ll. Home to a 70-foot high replica of the Eiffel Tower and site of the world’s biggest fish fry, Paris is a welcoming small town base for exploring the western side of Kentucky Lake. Indie shops and restaurants dot the historic downtown. Campgrounds line US 49, which ribbons between Paris and Kentucky Lake.
Tents and RVs are welcome for overnight stays at the campground at Paris Landing State Park, which overlooks the widest section of the lake. Six cabins are also available. Fishing, boating, and waterskiing are popular park activities.
Comprising more than 170,0000 acres of forest, wetlands, and open space between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, this accurately named peninsula is an outdoor-adventure powerhouse. Hikers can hit the 500-mile network of hiking trails while paddlers can explore 300 miles of shoreline on the nearby water trails. There are 1,400 campsites on the 40-mile long peninsula, and they are scattered across developed, self-service, and basic camping areas. Backcountry camping is also allowed with a permit.
A half-dozen or so private campgrounds border the eastern shore of Lake Barkley, a man-made lake east of Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. There are 79 tent and RV sites at Lake Barkley State Resort Park in Cadiz, Kentucky. Birding, boating, and bass and crappie fishing are top park activities.
Nashville is a twangy springboard for campers heading to Kentucky Lake. Spend a day or two exploring the Country Music Hall of Fame, soaking up the acoustically perfect sounds at Ryman Auditorium, and two-stepping at the Broadway honky tonks. Campsites and camping cabins are scattered across forests, farms, and creeksides outside the city. It takes about two hours to drive to the lake, depending on traffic and your destination.