Best Lakes in Kentucky


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    This Bluegrass state of Kentucky is filled with culture and other geographical things. The smooth meadow grass and the massive reservoirs are also one of the most extensive attractions of this US state.

    The reservoirs make up the various lakes on its landmass. These lakes are extremely beautiful and eye-catching, which will surely tempt the inner adventurer in you. 

    These best lakes in Kentucky are not only a source of recreation in the state but also provide a lot for energy production and flood control.

    Although, there are a lot of lakes spread across the state, such as; Kentucky Lake, Barren River Lake, Herington Lake, Lake Cumberland, and Taylorsville Lake.

    But here in this informative article, we have mentioned a little about nine of the best lakes flowing in the state.


    This piece of information is considered one of the important things to know before moving to Kentucky, as recreation is an important part of your life, during your stay in the state.  

    What are the 3 natural lakes in Kentucky?

    There are about 45 lakes, out of which 3 are natural lakes in Kentucky. They are; Swan Lake, Shelby Lake, and Metropolis Lake. 

    What is the most beautiful lake in Kentucky?  

    Laurel River Lake, located in the London Ranger District has about 5,500 acres of crystal-clear water and a 200-mile shore that is completely tree-lined. 

    The 9 Best Lakes to Visit in Kentucky

    The state of Kentucky has some of the most beautiful and attractively appealing lakes in the entire nation.


    These are one of the best locations for popular water activities such as boating, and fishing.

    You can also find various lakes in Kentucky with cabins, powerboats, pontoon boats, jet skies, and mansion-sized houseboats surrounded by water on all sides.

    Thus, you can enjoy your vacations, while sprawling in any of these boating options and make your itinerary to Kentucky a memorable one.

    Apart from these, these man-made water vessels will also cater to you with the best water skiing and fishing opportunities.

    Here is the list mentioning some of the best lakes in Kentucky, that would make up a perfect destination spot for your next vacation. 

    1. Kentucky Lake  

    The Kentucky Lake is one of the largest lakes in the state located east of the Mississippi river. This lake is a form of a massive reservoir, that sits along the Tennessee River.


    This lake is stretched over about 64,900 hectares of land and has a shoreline of about 3,322 kilometers. 

    This huge water body is not only an abundant source of hydroelectricity but also acts as a magnet for vacations and recreational activities for people coming from far and wide. 

    The dry side of the lake is completely dotted with various cabins, campgrounds, and marinas.

    Whereas; the wet area of the lake caters to every lake activity such as; pontoon boats, play boats, power boats, and also various other water activities.

    Not only this, but Kentucky lake is also known as the best fishing lake in Kentucky as here you can spot fishes such as; buffalo carp, white bass, red ear sunfish, catfish, yellow perch, and many more.

    The eastern shoreline of the Kentucky Lake is a part of the, ‘Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area’ and the same is also being shared by Lake Barkley. 

    If you are a tourist and planning to visit this beautifully massive Kentucky Lake. Then some of the best staying options for you will be; Kentucky Dam Village, Kentucky Lake Inn, and Days Inn by Wyndham.

    Not only this, but you can also grab a bite at some of the most famous nearby restaurants located around the lakeside.

    They are; Patti’s 1880’s Settlement, Garrison Oak Steakhouse, T. Lawson’s Grill, The Mailroom, and The Mixer.

    What town is Kentucky Lake in?  

    The Kentucky Lake is a part of the town of Gilbersville, Kentucky. 

    Do people swim in Kentucky Lake?

    Yes, of course, you can take a swim in Kentucky Lake. This is considered the most loved activity by the people coming to the place.  

    Does Kentucky Lake have alligators?  

    Yes, it has been confirmed by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, that the Kentucky Lake has alligators. Also, they have been spotted by visitors once in a while. 

    2. Lake Barkley Kentucky  

    Lake Barkley in Kentucky is surrounded by three counties; Lyon, Livingston, and Trigg counties.


    This 58,000-acre lake lies opposite the Kentucky Lake and attracts tourists from far and wide.

    The lakeside area or the 1,616 km of the shoreline of Lake Barkley is a classic vacation place for the residents. As, it offers dining, shopping, and also places to stay.

    The Lake Barkley State Resort Park spread over 6,900 hectares, offers visitors some fantastic recreational activities such as; hiking, horse riding, golf, swimming, boating, sailing, and fishing.

    Some of the best overnight accommodating options near Barkley Lake are; camping spots, rustic cabins, and nearby hotels.

    Some of the best nearby hotels are; Kentucky Dam Village, Rodeway Inn, and Aurora’s Kentucky Lake Cottage.  

    Some other major worth seeing attractions near the lake are; wildlife refugees, Civil War Monument, historical sites, and water parks.

    If you are hungry after performing all these activities you can grab a scrumptious and fulfilling meal at; Captain Jim’s Grill, Fishin Hole, and Cadiz Restaurant. 

    Can you swim in Lake Barkley?

    Yes, the beach at Lake Barkley allows you to swim and have fun. 

    What city is Lake Barkley in KY?  

    Lake Barkley lies near the town of Cadiz in Kentucky and provides a huge array of outdoor activities. 

    Are Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley connected?  

    Yes, there is a canal one mile above the dam that connects Lake Kentucky to Lake Barkley. 

    3. Lake Cumberland  

    Lake Cumberland is one of the largest lakes by volume in the state. The lake is situated near six counties, namely; the Laurel, Clinton, Pulaski, MC Creary, Rusell & Wayne Counties.


    This lake has a shoreline of about 2,025 km, which draws about 4 million visitors each year.

    This lake is a major tourist spot but also serves a primary purpose in the southern counties of the state. 

    Formed due to the Wolf Creek Dam, impounding the Cumberland River. This dam is a major source of energy production and flood control.

    But for the past 50 years, the lake is one of the major attractions of Kentucky tourism.

    The Cumberland lake is also known as the ‘Houseboating Capital of the World’. Due to its enormous fleet of houseboats found on the surface of the water.

    These houseboats range from 90-foot vessels that can accommodate upto 18 people at a time or a cozy aquatic abode with major amenities.

    You can find various other options to stay around the lake such as; Courtyard by Marriott Somerset, Timber Pointe Resort, and Lake Cumberland State Resort Park. 

    Apart from this, there is a lot more that you can explore in this 65,000 acres of lake. Thus, activities that you can enjoy here are jet skiing, fishing rings, powerboats, water skiing, fishing, swimming horseriding, hiking, anchoring, and casting a line.

    Not only this, but the lakeside has also several fun places, that are worthy enough to visit and engage visitors.

    People here can also enjoy local delicacies at the; Harbor Restaurants, Fishtales, and Guthrie’s Grill.  

    Are there alligators in Lake Cumberland?  

    Lake Cumberland does not have any alligators in its waters. 

    Can you swim in Lake Cumberland?  

    Yes, of course, you can swim in the waters of Lake Cumberland, and enjoy the serenity of the lake. 

    Is Lake Cumberland a clean lake?

    The water of this lake is highly clear, at all times of the year. And thus it is one of the clearest lakes in the state. 

    What’s at the bottom of Lake Cumberland?

    Beneath the Lake of Cumberland, there lies a ghostly town. In the year 1952, it was submerged in water when the lake was created by damming the river.  

    4. Barren River Lake  

    The Barren River Lake situated in the Barren, Allen, and Monroe Counties is a popular recreation destination for the people living nearby.


    Located about 20 miles southeast of Bowling Green, this vacation lake is spread across 10,000 acres of landmass. 

    The lake’s shoreline is about 227 kilometers long where you will find various activities in the Barren River Lake Resort Park.

    The main attraction of this park is the activities such as; boating, fishing, water skiing, picnicking spots, biking, hiking, and horseriding trails.

    Along with a golf course, basketball court, and a few playgrounds. 

    The best accommodation options around this lake are either rental houseboats, modern cabins, lodge rooms, or in the 99-unit camping ground.

    Apart from this after enjoying your day at the beach, you can spend a night in nearby hotels, namely; Barren Breeze Bed & Breakfast, Holiday Inn Express and Suites, and Comfort Inn and Suites.

    You can also grab a scrumptious meal before ending your day at; Driftwood Restaurant, Paradise Point, and Squealers. 

    Can you swim in Barren River Lake?

    Barren River Lake has a sandy beach, where visitors can freely swim, splash, and bask in the sun.  

    Is Barren River a lake or river?

    So, this Barren River Lake is an artificially made lake by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, by impounding the Barren River through a dam flowing in western Kentucky. 

    What is the deepest part of Barren River Lake?  

    36m is the maximum depth of this beautifully pleasing lake in Kentucky. 

    Who owns Barren River? 

    A small portion of the lake is being owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and they have leased the same for the Barren River Lake State Resort Park.  

    5. Green River Lake  

    Being nestled in the heart of Kentucky, this Green River Lake borders the Taylor, Adai, and Casey counties.


    The Green River Lake, located in Central Kentucky near the town of Campbellsville is a man-made reservoir, that stretches over 8,000 acres of area.

    The lake is just a 10-minute drive from Campbellsville and features 1,300 acres of Lake State Park. 

    This Green River Lake State Park features an impressive fleet of houseboats, rental boats, pontoon boats, power boats jet skies, and huge fishing vessels.

    Along with this, the lake is also quite suitable for swimming and has a great fishing area.

    Where species such as; muskellunge, white crappie, channel catfish, and largemouth bass can be found.

    Not only this, but this lakeside also serves as a great camping place with hiking, biking, and horse-riding trails.

    Here you can either live in floating cabins or custom-made accommodations for outdoor buffs.

    Or can live in hotels such as; Holiday Inn Express, Kozy Haven Log Cabin, and Sleep Inn & Suites.

    You enjoy local delicacies at restaurants such as; Green River Marina, Creek Side Family Restaurant, and Brothers Restaurant. 

    Can you swim in Green River Lake?

    This is a seasonal lake, open from March to November. This is indeed one of the best seasons in the state when you can enjoy the lake by swimming.

    As the temperature of the place then is moderate with no snowfall. Well, if you are wondering, does it snow a lot in Kentucky, then it does but from December to March. 

    How deep is the Green River Lake in Kentucky?  

    The average depth of the lake is about 25 feet. With the deepest point of 65 feet located just above the dam.  

    Where is Green River Lake located?  

    The Green River Lake is a man-made reservoir located bordering the counties of Casey, Taylor, and Adair. 

    6. Rough River Lake  

    The Rough River lake, located about 60 miles away from Louisville, is a massive reservoir covering about 5,000 acres of landmass.


    It is located at the borders of the 3 Kentucky counties namely; Grayson, Hardin, and Breckinridge.

    This lake is the result of the Rough River Dam, present on the western shore.

    The untouched beauty of this lake is a home for many activities due to the presence of Rough River Dam State Resort Park. 

    This beautiful and serene lake is a central spot for various water activities which includes a year-round trip from rental pontoon boats & public boats, swimming, and fishing.

    Some of the other fantastic activities that you can perform at this lake are; camping, disc golf, hiking, and orienteering course.

    Made by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1959, this lake is situated close to Fall of Rough and Cave Creek Campground.

    The best-staying options near this lake are; Hatfield Inn, Rough River Dam Resort Park, and Creekside Cabin.

    Whereas; the best places to eat near the lakes are; Grayson Landing Resort, Little Dave’s Restaurant & Pizza, and Lake House Restaurant. 

    Can you swim in Rough River Lake?  

    The Rough River Lake of Kentucky has an unspoiled beauty where you can swim along with performing various other water activities.

    Is Rough River a lake or river?

    This is a lake that was artificially created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1959, by damming the Rough River.  

    Why is it called Rough River Lake?

    Originally this lake was called the Rough River Reservoir formed by damming the Rough River. This lake has boundaries with Grayson and Breckinridge counties.  

    7. Nolin River Lake  

    The Nolin River Lake is located in western-central Kentucky, just north of the Mammoth Caves National Park.


    This is one of the best lakes in Kentucky, spread over more than 5,000 acres of area. It is quite fun to visit, with various land and water activities to enjoy. 

    The Nolin Lake State Park is worth an independent visit. This is significant because of the 60 camping sites situated close to the water.

    This park area has about 32 campsites with both water and electricity hookups and about 27 primitive campsites.

    The people visiting here can also stay in; Scenic Retreat, Serenity Hills, and Cozy Lakefront Cabins. 

    Not only this but here the visitors will also get nine miles of tracks for hikers & bikers, a sandy swimming beach, picnicking spots, fishing areas, and canoeing zones.

    The visitors can also view wildlife & birds and participate in a few other recreational activities taking place alongside Lake State Park.

    After a day’s enjoyment, you can satisfy your appetite in; Buoys at the Lodge, Hunt Brothers Pizza, and Hickory Cabins Grill. 

    Can you swim in Nolin River Lake?  

    This lake is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day and is open for swimming and relaxing. 

    How many acres is Nolin River Lake?  

    The Nolin River Lake is spread across 5,807 acres of surface area. 

    Why do they drain Nolin Lake?

    The Nolin River Lake primarily acts as a flood control lake. Because the authorities have the right to drain off the excess lake water through any means.

    They majorly do this when there is a high electricity demand, during flood operations, or when there is a strong upwards flow of water. 

    What town is Nolin Lake in Kentucky?  

    This seasonal lake is located in the counties of Grayson, Edmonson, and Hart. 

    8. Herrington Lake  

    Herrington Lake is one of the deepest lakes in Kentucky with a maximum depth of 76 meters.


    The people of Lexington can enjoy this the most on this lake as it is just a 30-mile drive from the city.

    This incredible man-made lake is a 2,300-acre reservoir that is made as a result of the dam built on the Dix River.

    At the time, when this lake was being made, its connecting dam was one of the largest earth-filled dams across the globe. 

    Unlike other lakes in Kentucky, this lake does not include any Lake State Park along its shore.

    But still, this fact does not stop Herrington Lake to be one of the most loved lakes by the residents of the state.

    This lake is an acclaimed spot for recreation in the form of kayak rentals, pontoon boats, and fishing spots.

    This lake is stocked with a variety of fish such as; catfish, bluegill, and crappie. This beautiful lake has plenty of houseboats with a mesmerizing limestone shore, that is worthy enough to visit and spend a day in. 

    Apart from that some other staying options near the lake are; Quality Inn, Sunrise over Herrington Lake Resort, and Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill.

    After enjoying your day at the lakeside, you can grab a quick meal at; Chimney Rock Marina, Kamp Kennedy Marina, and Sunset Grill & Marina

    Can you swim in Herrington Lake?

    Herrington Lake in Kentucky has many beneficial uses and services for the residents of the area and visitors with; drinking water, fishing, boating, and swimming opportunities.  

    Is Herrington Lake clean?  

    Yes, the water quality of Herrington Lake is quite good and is also considered safe for drinking purposes. 

    9. Taylorsville Lake  

    The Taylorsville Lake located in Spencer County is spread across about 3,050 acres of land.This is an artificial lake, constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was started in 1974.


    This lake is situated between Louisville and Lexington. Thus, due to its location and proximity to the big cities, you will witness a lot of traffic during the weekends on this lake. 

    This lake has a flourishing ecosystem of fish species, that includes a variety of fishes from the family of; perch, crappie, catfish, bass, and bluegill. 

    You will also find plenty of Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Hawks, and many more species, feeding on the lake due to the lake’s ample supply of shad.

    Thus, this lake makes up to be a great bird-watching spot for visitors. Apart from this the lake also hosts various water and land activities and sports.

    Water activity includes jet-skiing, kayaking, water-skiing, wakeboarding, tubing, and a rental ride on pontoon boats.

    The land activities include a campground, sites for RV’s, hiking trails, horse rides, and bicycling and biking on the 24-mile-long trail.

    The nearby hotels around the lake that are best to live in are; Edgewater Resort, Hampton Inn, and Bourbon Manor Bed & Breakfast Inn.

    Also, the best restaurants nearby, where you can enjoy some scrumptious food are; Lynda’s Grill, Hometown Pizza, and El Lago Bar & Grill.

    Thus if you are a tourist, a resident, or a student staying in the colleges in Kentucky with football, then do not miss visiting the extravagantly beautiful Taylorsville Lake. 

    Can you swim at Taylorsville Lake?  

    Swimming is not allowed from docks & boat ramps. But, it is allowed from the dam area of the lake. 

    Can you camp anywhere on Taylorsville Lake?  

    Various camping options are available at the Taylorsville Lake State Park, which includes about 45 spacious RV sites and 10 equestrian sites with major amenities of water and electricity, and 15 primitive tent sites. 

    How deep is Taylorsville Lake?

    The Taylorsville Lake is about 75 feet deep. 

    How many acres is Taylorsville Lake?

    The Taylorsville Lake is spread over about 3,050 acres of area.  

    Best lakes in Kentucky FAQs  

    What is the deepest lake in Kentucky?

    Lake Herrington, which is 249 ft deep is one of the deepest lakes in Kentucky situated near the cities of Burgin, Nicholasville, Harrodsburg, Wilmore, and Bryantsville.  

    What is the dirtiest lake in Kentucky?

    Kentucky Lake is one of the dirtiest lakes in the state, as it has high levels of coal and ash contamination.

    Are there any beaches in Kentucky?  

    The cities or towns that have beaches are considered one of the best places to live in Kentucky for young adults.

    The lakes in the state have some of the best resorts, beaches, and state parks along their shore. Thus, some of the best beaches in the state are;

    • Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park 
    • Lake Barkley State Resort Park
    • Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park
    • Lake Malon State Park beach
    • Nolin Lake State Park Beach
    • Cedar Creek State Park beach
    • Green River Lake State Park beach
    • Barren River Lake Beach
    • Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park Beach


     So, that was all about the descriptive article explaining the best lakes in Kentucky. Apart from the ones mentioned above, there are a few more mesmerizing lakes that are worth visiting.

    Such as; Laurel River lake, Cave Run Lake, Dale Hollow Reservoir, Yatesville Lake, Cedar Creek Lake, and Fishtrap Lake.

    Thus, if you are a resident or a tourist make your itinerary as early as possible and witness the breathtaking views and activities that these amazing water bodies have to offer you.