Featuring beautiful scenery, numerous recreational activities, and many RV camping choices, Barkley Lake is a top-rated destination for RV lovers looking to explore the great outdoors. Lake Barkley is a massive body of water that encompasses 58,000 acres across multiple counties in both Kentucky and Tennessee that you really need to check out.
The lake was initially formed after the US Army Corps of Engineers realized that the small locks and dams on the River Cumberland were not enough to provide adequate flood control to the area. For Barkley Lake to be built the communities of Kuttawa and Eddyville had to be permanently flooded, which resulted in the combined population of 3500 residents being moved in the early 1960s.
One of the cool features of having two towns at the bottom of the lake is that when the water level is below five feet you can see old foundations, sidewalks, and streets. Barkley Lake is also in a very unique location as it runs parallel with Kentucky lake for more than 50 miles. In between the two lakes is where most visitors spend their days off the water, and this is where the closest campgrounds to the lake are located. Known as the Land Between Lakes Recreation Area , this 170,000 acre paradise is also a must-see on your trip.
There are plenty of public and private campgrounds either within the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, so whether you are looking for primitive camping or something a little more luxurious, you will be able to find it at Barkley Lake.
Getting to and from Barkley Lake is very straightforward since it can be accessed from the north, south, east, and west. The main road that visitors use to enter and exit the park is KY-80, and this is also the only road that crosses from one side of the lake to the other.
If you want to pick up some supplies or visit any amenities before you reach the park there are many towns located close by, including Canton (which is right next to the lake near KY-80), Aurora (around 18 miles away), and Grand Rivers around 19 miles away). The closest city to Barkley Lake is Hopkinsville, which is around 39 miles to the east.
If you are staying in The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, please be aware that some of the roads near the campground are one-way, so make sure that you follow the signs to avoid a one-way turnaround. Besides the one-way roads, the rest of the area is kept in excellent condition, and there should be no obstacles that could damage your rented RV or your own rig.
There are plenty of parking areas in and around Barkley Lake.
There are no public transportation options that will take you to Barkley Lake.
Located on the Tennessee side of Barkley Lake, Bumpus Mills is a COE run campground that is suitable for RVs. This campground is regarded as one of the best in the area due to the privacy and quietness that exists here all year round.
Bumpus Mills is very small and only has 15 campsites available at any given time. All of the sites are equipped with electrical hookups, and the campground also has some great amenities, including hot showers, a dump station, boat ramp access, and a public marina. The campground is also pet-friendly, and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks within the area.
Since the campground is so small, it is highly recommended that you reserve a site before you arrive so that you won't miss out. Reservations can be made online and must be done no later than two days in advance of your arrival.
Situated in between Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake, Canal Campground is very popular with RV travelers. Canal Campground offers visitors the chance to stay close to both lakes in a clean and well-maintained campground while also giving you an awesome water view.
Most of the campsites at the Canal Campground are shady and it is quite large thanks to the eight separate loops. All of the sites are equipped with electrical hookups and the campground also has some great amenities, including showers, flush toilets, easy lake access, a dump station, and a playground. Canal Campground is also pet friendly and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks within the campground.
Since the campground is so popular it is highly recommended that you reserve a site before you arrive so that you won't miss out. Reservations can be made online and the campground is open from late March until late October.
Eureka Campground is another great place to consider staying during your visit to Barkley Lake. The Eureka Campground is one of the more less known RV friendly spots to set up camp at the lake, but that does have its benefits since there will be more quiet time available for you to enjoy.
In total there are 26 sites at Eureka Campground and all of them come with electric and water hookups and some even have direct lake access. Other amenities included at the campground are hot showers, a playground, boat launch, and a swimming area. Near the campground there is also a picnic shelter that can accommodate up to 100 people. Eureka Campground is also pet-friendly and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks within the campground.
Since the campground is small it would be wise to reserve a site here so that you don't miss out. Reservations can be made online and the peak season is during the summer months.
Located on the eastern side of Barkley Lake, Hurricane Creek Campground is a perfect campground for RV lovers interested in fishing. The campground is known for having fairly level sites that feature a gravel area beside the site, a concrete picnic table and fire ring, grill, and smaller wooden table.
In total there are 51 sites at Hurricane Creek Campground and all of them come with electric and water hookups. Five of these 51 sites are walk-in only, but the rest are RV friendly. Other amenities included at the campground are hot showers, laundry facilities, and a playground. Hurricane Creek Campground is also pet-friendly and you should be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks within the campground.
Since the campground is popular with those who love to fish we recommend reserving a site prior to your arrival. Reservations are open during the peak season, which runs from the end of April until the end of October.
Located in Lake Barkley State Resort, this campground is ran by the state of Kentucky rather than being a COE campground. Lake Barkley State Resort Park Campground is a seasonally-operated, pet-friendly campground that provides its guests with amenities that will make you feel at home. All of the campsites found here are equipped with paved driveways, a picnic table, and a fire ring. You will also have the choice between sites that have 30 amp hookups with water, to sites with just water, as well as sites that are completely primitive.
The back in and pull through spaces are quite roomy and can accommodate RVs and trailers between 28 feet and 71 feet in length. The campground has two central service buildings with showers and restrooms as well as a dump station on site. Please respect the park’s posted quiet hours which begin at 11:00 pm nightly and remember to clean up after yourself. Reservations are available during the peak season, however please check the website when planning your trip as some weekends and peak visiting times may require a minimum night stay.
During the warmer months, there is no better way to chill out than by going for a dip. At Barkley Lake there are many miles that you can explore and swim in, however there are no lifeguards located on any of the beaches at the lake. If you are wanting to take a dip in a designated swimming area we recommend checking out Lake Barkley State Resort Park or swimming at one of the many campgrounds that are on the banks of the lake.
With so many miles of water to explore there are many adventures awaiting boaters at Barkley Lake. The lake is suitable for all kinds of watercraft, including fishing boats, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and motor boats. If you don't have your own boat (or you forgot some supplies) there is a marina on the lake that will be your one stop shop. There are also plenty of public boat launches on the east and west sides of the lake that you can use.
Scattered throughout the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area are numerous day-use areas that will be equipped to handle your picnic, no matter how large or small. If you can't decide on an area to picnic at we recommend Cadiz Park. Located on the lake near the town of Cadiz, Kentucky, the day-use area has some great amenities, including barbecuing areas, toilets, and easy access to boating and fishing. If you want to reserve a picnic area near the lake you can do so at the park website.
If you love to fish you must cast a line out on Barkley Lake. In late winter and early spring, the lake is one of the best places in the midwest to fish for trophy largemouth bass. Along with being great for largemouth bass, the lake also is known for being the place where the largest yellow bass ever was caught in Kentucky was recorded (which weighed in at over a pound).
Other species of fish found in Lake Barkley are bluegill, crappie, redear sunfish, and muskellunge. Remember that the state of Kentucky requires that all anglers over the age of 16 to purchase and possess a valid fishing license.
If you are interested in doing some hiking be sure to check out the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. This is the premier area for hiking in and around the lake thanks to the over 170,000 acres of land. At the recreation area, you will find over 500 miles of trails to explore that range from easy one-hour strolls to multi-day backpacking excursions. There really is something for everyone, so head on over to enjoy the woods, meadows, and lakeshore before your RV holiday is over.
One of the great benefits about Barkley Lake being next to so many thousands of acres of untouched wilderness is that you will be able to do some great birding during your stay. There are up to 250 species of birds to be found, including bald eagles migrating to the area during the winter months. If you want to pick up a birding checklist you can do so at The Nature Center within Land Between the Lakes.