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Wildlife Viewing in LBL

Home | Land Between The Lakes | Wildlife Viewing

Opened in 1963, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area spans 170,000 acres between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. The area features a number of habitats, including forests, wetlands and open lands. In turn, the diverse environments allow for a variety of wildlife that visitors can enjoy.

The Elk and Bison Prairie

One of the most popular attractions in Land Between the Lakes is the Elk and Bison Prairie. Elk and bison roam free in the 700-acre enclosure, where visitors can drive in their enclosed vehicles via a 3.5-mile paved road. While the Elk and Bison Prairie is a wonderful place to visit any time of year, nature lovers will particularly be interested in early summer and fall.

During early summer, elk and bison calves first appear. Since the animals are most active between sunrise and sunset, visitors should drive through just after sunrise or right before sunset for the best views. In September and October, the elk begin their mating call, or 'bugling,' that visitors will be sure to want to hear. Admission to the Elk and Bison Prairie is $5. Tickets can be purchased at the Prairie entrance, Golden Pond Visitor Center, Welcome Stations, or any day-use facility.

Bald Eagles

For visitors wishing to view bald eagles, two of the best ways to do so are by touring Duncan Lake, or taking an eagle viewing van tour. Situated to the east of Kentucky Lake, Duncan Lake is a wildlife refuge home to abundant waterfowl and eagles. The refuge is closed between November and mid-March. Winter visitors can reserve a spot on an eagle viewing van tour. Naturalists on the tour will help spot eagles and other wildlife. Call 270-924-2020 for the next tour date and time.

Wildlife Viewing at Honker Lake

Located near the Woodlands Nature Station is Honker Lake, named after the Canadian geese that populate the area. The lake was originally built in the 1930s by Civilian Conservation Corps for waterfowl management. A 4.5-mile trail encircles the lake, giving visitors plenty of opportunity to view wildlife such as beavers, otters, osprey, and deer.

Exhibits at The Nature Station

The Woodlands Nature Station provides a space for nature lovers to experience wildlife up close.  Visitors can explore the Nature Station’s Backyard Exhibit area, which features native wildlife that have been orphaned, injured, or otherwise unable to be released into the wild. These animals include the great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, and even the rare red wolf. Adults and children alike can partake in wildlife programs like Sunday Safaris and Cool Critters Day. General admission is $5 for ages 13 and up, $3 for ages 5-12, and free for children 4 and under.

View Wildlife Just About Anywhere

The area that surrounds Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley is ripe for wildlife viewing and provides visitors with a front row seat to some of the region’s most fascinating wildlife. No matter what vehicle, road or route you choose to explore, there are sure to be fascinating encounters with the wildlife who make their homes here.  

Lodging Outside Land Between The Lakes

Just outside LBL are several dozens of accommodations catering to all types of vacationers.  Additional campgrounds can be found outside LBL as well as resorts, marinas, hotels, condos, vacation rentals and more.

Note:  ExploreKentuckyLake.com is not the official site of the Land Between The Lakes. You can access their official site here.


Cedar Waxwing
Photo by Teresa Gemeinhardt

The Cedar Waxwing is a beautiful bird that is common to The Land Between The Lakes region. You're likely to find them near fruiting trees and shrubs.