LAND BETWEEN THE LAKES - KENTUCKY/TENNESSEE - October, 2000
Our fall vacation included a 5-day visit with Fred, Becky and Caitlin.
This picture from their porch shows the beautiful color at the end of their driveway. It was the best fall color we saw during the remainder of the trip.
We left their house and traveled southwest to the National Recreation Area called Land Between the Lakes. When Melanie asked how we heard about Land Between the Lakes, Fred told her he saw this large green spot on the map and we decided to check it out.
Land Between the Lakes (LBL) is a 170,000-acre stretch of land between the Kentucky and Barkley lakes in western Kentucky and extending into Tennessee. The main road is a well-maintained two-lane asphalt road. LBL offers a Welcome Center at both the north and south entrances and a Visitors Center about in the middle.
There is something at LBL for just about everyone.
While LBL is about 70 miles long, it has over 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline. This photograph shows the jagged nature of the shoreline. It creates many bays and inlets - 23 of which contain boat landings.
The Visitors Center and the Golden Pond Planetarium & Observatory share a building. We attended a presentation of the "Kentucky Skies" ($3.50 per person).
Near the Visitors Center is the Elk & Bison Prairie – a three-mile self-guided circle drive ($3 per vehicle) with an opportunity to see and photograph the animals. We followed the suggestion of the park ranger and visited the Elk & Bison Prairie just before sunset. As you can see by the pictures of the bison, they were "on the move". We were able to observe them up close.
And the Elk were out also.
The Homeplace ~ 1850, A Living History Farm recalls the work, the play, and the customs of a rural family between the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers in the mid-19th century. It is a self-guided tour ($3.25 per person) of 16 reconstructed log buildings. Homeplace ~ 1850 was different from many historic farms we have visited in that there were no ropes, glass barriers or other blockages to the buildings or rooms within the buildings. You are encouraged to feel the feather filled mattress and other artifacts while roaming through the buildings.
Double Pen with Breezeway House
Hog Lot and Crib
During the growing season, it is an active farm. On this day, they were plowing a little just to show the visitors a little action. The horses are grade Percheron, the only draft bred to be imported from Europe prior to the War Between The States.
Once they removed the harnesses, the horses knew it was time to eat and headed for the horse barn.
Animal Barn Single Pen House
The Nature Station offers a series of programs, which must be a great asset to the school districts in the area judging from the school buses we saw. The ‘Learning Center’ has exhibits, which encourage you to explore trees and plants, reptiles and amphibians, and other mysteries of the out-of-doors. The ‘Back Yard’ features wild life native to this region. This live animal exhibit contains all non-releasable animals that were orphaned, injured, or born in captivity. We show you only two here. There is also an area set aside as a bird sanctuary.
Bald Eagle Coyotes
Camping in LBL is available from "primitive" ($8-$9) to "full hook-ups" ($19). The campgrounds were designed and build by the NCHA, TVA and Army Corp of Engineers. The sites, in most cases, are almost level areas of fine gravel surrounded by timbers. The campgrounds were planned well, generally providing easily accessed angled approaches to each site. As with most camping areas the many trees required wide turns.
We stayed in the Hillman Ferry Campground near the North entrance. It offered camping from ‘no hook-ups’ to ‘full hook-ups’. The people below us had a beautiful view of the water. Our view was partially blocked by trees. Our site was easy to find at the end of the main road, especially when we returned to camp in the dark.
We explored many of the LBL campgrounds. Do not attempt to take your towable RV into a "backcountry" campground – unless you investigate it first. Backcountry campgrounds ($8 -$9) had planned and numbered sites but were difficult to reach (miles of rough gravel roads) and small sites and tough to maneuver around in.
Backcountry camping in LBL can mean you can camp just about anyplace within LBL for a $10 per person annual fee. Some people were camping in fields adjacent to several boat landings, in cornfields and along side the road.
These people were backcountry camping at a spot with a view that couldn't be better. We took this photograph from the boat landing. The next two photographs were also from the boat landing.
We never seem to get back to camp before dark. These two sunsets were the best of the bunch.
We found the Wranglers Campground pictured here very interesting. This was the first time we have encountered a campground that specialized in facilities for horse lovers.
Many people were using the bike and hiking trails located throughout the recreation area. Some were not camping in Land Between the Lakes but parked in the Welcome Center parking area and took a trail from there. In the 2,500-acre Turkey Bay OHV (Off-Highway Vehicles) area, you can have fun with your All-Terrain Vehicle.
LBL has special events throughout the year. Be sure to pick up a schedule of events at the Visitors Center or check their Web site at "www . lbl . com" while planning your visit.
Also pick up a hunting areas map if you like to explore the back roads. We used this map to tour the back roads.
When LBL was created in 1964 all private ownership of property in the area was ended. Communities disbanded and families moved away, leaving behind thousands of graves. There are 240 cemeteries (209 named) known to be in LBL.
We looked for the three cemeteries with our family name. We found two of the three listed on the hunting area map with the help of our four wheel drive vehicle – it climbed up hillside ruts with ease. We never had any family in this area so it was only a recreational exercise, not a significant search for family. It was interesting that some of the cemeteries were well maintained and other were not. Also, some of the cemeteries had burials in the late 1970s.
This homemade tombstone caught our eye.
We recommend you park your towable at your campsite before touring the side roads in the LBL. Most of the asphalt roads have eight-foot wide lanes, which can be an issue if another RV approaches you. And … the dirt/gravel side roads … we were glad we had four wheel drive for many of them.
All along the roads you see these rolls of hay. LBL has an agreement with the local farmers. The farmers use the land and provide the labor. They leave, depending on the need in the area, 15 -20% of the harvest for the local animals.
Restaurants and fuel sources do not exist within LBL. Plan to enter LBL with an almost full vehicle fuel tank, enough LP in your tanks and something in the refrigerator if you plan to stay for several days. Speaking only for the north entrance, fuel and some shopping is available within 10 miles of LBL.
We were in LBL four days, if we had more time we would have tried to find the last family name cemetery and relaxed in camp enjoying the view of the water. However, we are still working and were expected back in Michigan to punch the clock Tuesday morning.
If you are in the area, we encourage you to include the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area on your itinerary. It is on our list of places to revisit.
We left LBL Sunday and headed for Lexington, KY.
We stayed at the Kentucky Horse Park campground outside of Lexington Sunday night. During our evening walked around the campground we saw several interesting RVs.
We saw this RV during a fuel stop.
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