Reelfoot Lake State Park | Outdoorsy

Reelfoot Lake State Park
Guide

Introduction

Reelfoot Lake State Park is located in Tennessee, within Lake County. The pride and joy of the park is the 15,000-acre Reelfoot Lake, which was formed in the early 1800s by a series of earthquakes. Because it is a flooded forest, the lake features Cypress trees and a variety of flora and fauna. Come enjoy the only large, naturally formed lake in Tennessee.

One of the main attractions at this park is the large influx of bald eagles that come here every year between January and February, bringing tourists from all over to visit the area. Many other species of birds come to visit the park as it exists on a migratory bird flyway, including golden eagles and osprey.

You'll find lots of different activities to enjoy when you come to visit Reelfoot Lake State Park in your rig. There is a Visitor Center complete with exhibits on native wildlife, including birds that cannot be released back into the wild. Guided tours are available on the ground, and by boat, so you can take your pick. There are also several hiking trails available that are all considered easy trails, meaning everyone in the family can join in.

You can enjoy boating and fishing within this state park, where you'll find a variety of fishing, from bluegill to bass and catfish. There are two campgrounds with plenty of campsites for you to bring your tent or RV, complete with electrical and water hookups.

RV Rentals in Reelfoot Lake State Park

Transportation

Driving

Reelfoot Lake State Park is located outside of Tiptonville, Tennessee, in the northwest area of the state. The park is located off of Highway 21 East, just two hours from Memphis and three hours from Nashville. You should have no problem driving your motorhome or towing a travel trailer on local roads since they are all paved and mostly flat. Driving is pretty much the only way to access all the areas of the park unless you take to the water. The various areas of the park, such as the Airpark North Campground, South Campground, and Visitor Center, are spread out around the massive lake. So, expect some travel time between the various attractions of the park.

You can bring your boat to Reelfoot Lake State Park and use it in the lake. There are five different areas where you can launch your boat in the park. These boats can be small pontoon boats, as well as small fishing boats. The lake is too shallow for larger boats and has too many stumps in the water that might cause issues. You can drive golf carts in the campground, but they are only allowed on paved roads. In addition, they can only be driven by people with active driver's licenses.

If you'd like to explore other nearby parks, check out Big Cypress Tree State Park. Just an hour away, this park features a unique hiking experience where you can stroll on a boardwalk above hardwood bottomland forest. Another fav spot is Paris Landing State Park. While this park is two hours away, it's well worth the trip thanks to the abundance of outdoor activities available, including golfing, boating, and swimming.

Parking

Parking is available at all the main points of interest around the lake, including the campgrounds, Visitor Center, and picnic areas. If you're RV camping at the park, you'll enter and check in at the park office and Visitor Center. From there, you'll be directed to either the Airpark North Campground or the South Campground, or one of the premium cabins available on the side of the lake. Only two vehicles are allowed to be parked at each campsite, and there is a limit of six people per campsite.

Public Transportation

Campgrounds and parking in Reelfoot Lake State Park

Campsites in Reelfoot Lake State Park

Reservations camping

Reelfoot Lake State Park Airpark North Campground

Reelfoot Lake State Park offers a northern campground in addition to its southern campground. The Airpark North Campground takes reservations and offers 14 sites for RVs up to 66 feet in length. There are also ten primitive sites for tent camping.

The RV sites have 30-amp electrical and water hookups, although they lack sewage hookups. Instead, there is a dump station nearby. You'll be able to cook up dinner right at your site, thanks to the grill and picnic table provided. This campground also has a bathhouse with hot showers available. Pets are allowed in the campground area as long as they are restrained. At these sites, the maximum stay in 14 days.

The campground offers close access to fishing and boating on Reelfoot Lake. You can bring small boats, such as canoes or kayaks, or you can rent them from local businesses. There are multiple sites where you can fish from, including the bank, pier, and nearby boardwalk.

Reelfoot Lake State Park South Campground

The South Campground is the larger and more popular camping area with 86 sites for RV and tent camping. Each site offers 20-, 30-, and 50-amp electrical and water hookups, and there is also a dump station on-site. You'll enjoy many amenities at this campground, including three bathhouses, hot showers, laundry facilities, and an area to wash dishes.

RVs up to 70 feet can camp here, and all of the sites are paved. Every site features a picnic table and grill so you can easily make dinner. Up to six people are allowed to camp at each site, although exceptions can be made for immediate families. Pets are allowed as long as they are kept on a leash. The maximum stay is 14 days, and reservations should be made well in advance, especially during the busy months of April and May.

Near the campground, there are boat launches to access Reelfoot Lake, and boats can be rented from nearby businesses. When you're done fishing, there is a fish cleaning station near the campground. There is a nearby area to get ice as well. For picnicking purposes, there are multiple shelters and picnicking sites near the campground.

Alternate camping

Cabins

Reelfoot Lake State Park has seven cozy cabins available for rent, all located in a picturesque, lakeside setting. Imagine waking up to the tranquil sounds of water rippling at the banks and sipping your morning coffee on your private patio as you take in the scenic flooded forest all around you. These fully furnished cabins are equipped with the latest modern amenities like central heating and AC, Wi-Fi, cable TV, a dishwasher, and an electric fireplace. You can choose from a two- or three-bedroom cabin, and pets are welcome at designated cabins.

Seasonal activities in Reelfoot Lake State Park

Off-Season

Picnicking

There are lots of areas to enjoy picnicking during your RV stay at Reelfoot Lake State Park. There are roughly 200 different sites for picnicking within the park, and many of these sites contain access to grills. For large family or work gatherings, there are also five pavilions that can hold 40-90 people. Most of these areas have easy access to restrooms and drinking facilities, as well as being located near the playgrounds for children to visit while enjoying their picnics.

Hiking

You'll find a variety of trails to explore in Reelfoot Lake State Park. These rate from easy to moderate, with the majority being considered easy paths to navigate. From these trails, you'll be able not just to view the lake but also to observe wildlife in their natural habitat.

For gorgeous lakeside views head down the 1.5-mile Keystone Trail. You can smell the scent of beautiful wildflowers in early spring if you head down the 1.5-mile, sylvan Airpark Trail. If you are traveling with young children, the Visitor Center Boardwalk Trail and the Campground Trail are both comfortable, half-mile trails. Birders will especially love the two-mile Black Bayou Trail, which is known for sightings of songbirds and owls.

Recreational Programs

If your park your rig at the Visitor Center or the R.C. Donaldson Museum, you'll be able to learn about the park's history, as well as the culture of the area. Exhibits discuss the ecology of the area, and you'll also find numerous animals native to the area, such as birds of prey that cannot be released.

There are also ranger-led and learning activities that you can take part in throughout the year to learn more about the park and the animals that live there. The park's boat tours are some of the most coveted events of the year. Explore the deep swamp on canoe tours in March and April. Starting in the spring, you can cruise along the lake and spot native birds on pontoon boat tours.

In-Season

Wildlife Viewing and Birding

You'll be able to experience watching a great deal of wildlife if you exercise patience while in Reelfoot Lake State Park. There are many bald eagles that nest around the lake during the year, as well as other birds of prey such as golden eagles. In addition, the lake is home to numerous snakes such as water snakes, as well as turtles like sliders. The Keystone Trail is the only lakeside path in the park where you can see warblers, wood ducks, and other waterfowl.

Boating

Not only is Reelfoot Lake massive at 15,000 acres, but it offers a unique boating experience and truly magnificent scenery. The lake is basically a flooded forest, meaning you can cruise among bald cypress trees and stumps that sprout from the water. While larger boats are allowed on the water, most aquatic explorers coast around the lake in kayaks, canoes, or Jon boats. You're able to fish from your boat if you have a license to fish in the lake. If you don't have your own boat, you can rent one from businesses in the area. Make sure you wear a life vest and take it slow while navigating around the trees in the water.

Fishing

You'll find plenty of fishing within Reelfoot Lake State Park, either from land or by boat on Reelfoot Lake. On land, you've got the option of the banks, pier, and boardwalk to fish from. You can fish for crappie, bluegill, catfish, and bass. You'll have the best luck for crappie and bluegill when in-season, from April through May. You'll need a fishing license to fish in Tennessee, but you'll also need a special lake license to fish in the lake.

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