Enjoy the Scenic Byways of Land Between the Lakes
The woodlands and scenic byways that wind their way through Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area are filled with natural sights and sounds. Visitors to the area can enjoy scenic drives that take them to nearly untouched natural spaces that provide a serene backdrop to any outdoor adventure.
Before hitting the road, be sure to pick up a Motor Vehicle Use Map for a list of Forest Service road numbers.
One of the most traveled routes through Land Between the Lakes is the Woodlands Trace, commonly referred to simply as "The Trace." This 43-mile route is a designated National Scenic Byway. It begins around Grand Rivers, Kentucky, and moves south towards Dover, Tennessee.
Kentucky Lake Drive
This three-mile route is located along the Woodlands Trace. The route offers motorists lovely views of Kentucky Lake and provides a variety of scenic picnic spots for travelers to rest for a spell. Kentucky Lake Drive has also become very popular as a bird watching destination.
Those who wish to get out and enjoy the scenery will find a number of well-maintained bike trails and hiking trails. So there is much to do here, in addition to taking a scenic drive through the wooded roads.
Elk & Bison Prairie
The Elk and Bison Prairie covers 700 acres of lands that have been restored as homes to a number of elk, bison and other wildlife found around the Land Between the Lakes. The three-mile loop which weaves through the prairie offers motorists breathtaking views, especially during the warmer months of the year.
Named for the great numbers of elk and bison who live among these natural and federally-protected lands, the Elk and Bison Prairie is a year-round attraction. Depending on when you take your drive, various animals will be easy to view. For the best display of elk and bison, visitors should make their visit during the cooler months, particularly from September through February. In October, motorists and passengers will discover elk bugling, something one rarely gets to experience anywhere else in the country.
The best time to view native and migratory birds is from May to June. These fowl can be found feasting on the native plants and wildflowers that grow abundantly in these prairie lands.
If you're looking to see migratory butterflies, then consider taking a scenic drive through the Elk & Bison Prairie of Land Between the Lakes in June or September. These are prime viewing months for butterflies in the region.
While most scenic drives through Land Between the Lakes are free of charge, there is a small $5 fee per vehicle for travelers exploring the Elk & Bison Prairie. The prairie is open dawn to dusk. For safety, guests are asked to stay in their cars at all times while visiting the prairie.
Energy Lake Road
If you're interested in kayaking and canoeing then a trek down Energy Lake Road will lead you to the idyllic waters of Energy Lake. Energy Lake Road is a great place for visitors to observe water fowl and to view all sorts of wildlife in an adjacent refuge that is open most of the warmer times of the year (closed November 1-March 15). Those wishing to stop for a while can rent canoes and kayaks by the hour for about $10 per hour. A cruise on the waters of Energy Lake offers guests a rare look at birds in their natural habitats. Energy Lake Campground and backcountry camping sites are located around here for those seeking to spend the night.
Explore the Backroads of Land Between the Lakes
In addition to the beautiful sights and sounds you'll encounter along these more popular scenic routes, Land Between the Lakes is also home to a number of less traveled backroads that offer motorists a glimpse into some of the area's most interesting natural habitats. Jeep owners and those with four-wheel drive vehicles will enjoy exploring these backroads, as they can be a bit more rugged. Because some of these roads are unmarked you'll want to be sure to keep a copy of the Motor Vehicle Use Map handy. It will give you a list of the Forest Service road numbers so you can stay on the right track.
A Year-Round Destination
There's never a bad time to take a scenic drive through Land Between the Lakes. Whether you come in winter, when snow sprinkles the trees along the wooded routes, or during the spring and summer when a variety of birds and other wildlife can be easily viewed in their natural habitats, this national recreation area is filled with opportunities that will entice motorists to visit again and again.