Discover Kentucky's Majestic Lakes

Houseboating, sailing, kayaking, birdwatching and fishing are all favorite activities along Kentucky's waterways. Western Kentucky’s Barkley and Kentucky lakes total a whopping 220,000 acres. The shoreline of Lake Cumberland is nearly equal to the Pacific Coast of the continental United States. All three are among the biggest manmade lakes in the eastern U.S.

Boating on Lake Cumberland
Lake Cumberland

These and many other lakes are havens for thousands of boaters, skiers, anglers and other water sports enthusiasts who return year after year to the Bluegrass State. In warm summers they enjoy cool breezes and refreshing dips in these sparkling jewels.   

Boating, America’s number one family sport, attracts recreationists to Kentucky from far and wide. With more than 100 marinas dotting shorelines, boat rentals are readily available, and plentiful boat ramps and access sites make it easy to bring your own watercraft. 

Spanning southwest Kentucky and northwest Tennessee, Kentucky Lake is 184 miles long, has 2,380 miles of shoreline, and 160,300 surface acres at summer levels. Lake Barkley is connected by a free-flowing canal to Kentucky Lake. Barkley has 1,004 miles of shoreline and nearly 58,000 acres of water at summer pool. If you’re a sailboating enthusiast, you can’t find a better place than these two lakes.  

Sailing on Kentucky Lake
Kentucky Lake

Lake Cumberland in southeastern Kentucky is considered the nation’s top houseboating destination, with rentals of these luxurious vessels available at several marinas around the lake. Float and relax on the pristine waters surrounded by the sounds of nature. Along with houseboating come skiing, jet skiing, tubing and fishing. Cumberland is famous for striped bass fishing, as well as large mouth, crappie, bluegill, catfish, walleye and more.

Located 70 miles south of Lexington, this scenic lake covers 60,000 acres with more than 1,200 miles of federally protected shoreline perfect for camping and hiking. The lake’s water level recently returned to full depth, making an ideal spot for all types of water sports. 

Dale Hollow Lake provides recreation opportunities to thousands of visitors who come to boat, canoe, fish, hunt, camp, hike, ride horseback and enjoy the outdoors. Besides offering ultra-clear water and unspoiled shoreline, Dale Hollow Lake is one of the nation's premier bass fisheries; it holds the world record for the largest smallmouth bass. 

Located in Clinton and Cumberland counties in southeastern Kentucky and stretching into Tennessee, 27,700-acre Dale Hollow is Kentucky’s oldest man-made lake and one of the earliest lakes built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  

Lodge at Dale Hollow State Resort Park
Lodge at Dale Hollow State Resort Park

Kentucky’s outstanding state park system operates attractive resorts at Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, Lake Cumberland and Dale Hollow Lake. Lodges, restaurants, campgrounds, marinas and golf courses are among the amenities at these state parks. 

Fishing at Kentucky Lake
Fishing at Kentucky Lake

Many smaller – but no less inviting -- lakes are dotted around the state. You will also find state resort parks at Barren River Lake, Buckhorn Lake, Greenbo Lake and Rough River Lake. State parks with many amenities but lodges are found at Green River Lake, Taylorsville Lake, Nolin Lake, Grayson Lake, Yatesville Lake, Carr Fork Lake, Kincaid Lake and General Burnside Island.  

Other Kentucky lakes popular with water sports enthusiasts include Herrington Lake, Cave Run Lake, Laurel River Lake and Fishtrap Lake.

So, with water nearly everywhere in Kentucky, you can’t find a better place to take an aquatic vacation. Kentucky’s lakes are the place to be for water recreation.