Back Country Camping
Mountain Biking & Cycling
Elk & Bison Prairie
Do I need a permit to camp in one of the developed campgrounds?
NO. If you are camping at Hillman Ferry, Wranglers, Piney, Energy Lake, Cravens Bay, Gatlin Point, or Fenton, you must pay the posted camping fee.
How long can I stay in one of these campgrounds?
IT DEPENDS ON THE CAMPGROUND. If you are staying at Hillman Ferry, Wranglers, Piney, or Energy Lake, you may stay 21 consecutive days at one site. Then you must leave that site for a minimum of seven days before returning to it.
If you are staying at Cravens Bay, Gatlin Point, Turkey Bay, or Fenton, you may stay 21 consecutive days. After the 21 consecutive days, you must leave and move at least one mile away from the campground. You may return to the campground after being gone for seven consecutive days.
Do I need camping permit if I want to camp somewhere other than a developed campground such as those listed above?
YES. If you are age 18 or older you must be in possession of a backcountry camping permit.
Does each person in my group need a camping permit?
YES. Each person in your group that is age 18 or older must have a backcountry camping permit. Campers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
How long can I stay in a backcountry campsite?
You may stay 14 consecutive days. After the 14 consecutive days, you must leave and move at least one mile in distance from that camp site and not return for a minimum of seven days.
Where can I camp?
Almost anywhere in LBL! There are only a few places that you may not camp overnight. Camping is not allowed in cemeteries; picnic areas; Brandon Spring Group Center; the Environmental Education Area; and within 200 yards of the Trace, Highway 68/80, Mulberry Flat, Silver Trail, and Fort Henry roads.
What other rules and regulations do I need to be aware of when I camp at LBL?
Check out LBL General Rules by clicking here.
Just a few more things to remember:
- If you are planning an overnight trip, leave an itinerary at one of the Welcome Stations.
- You must properly dispose of gray and black water. It is illegal to dump waste waters on the ground.
- Follow the "Pack It In -- Pack It Out" credo. Help keep your public lands free of litter by packing out all your trash and properly disposing of it.
- You may have a campfire except during periods of high fire danger. Only dead or down materials may be used for fuel. You should attend your fire at all times and completely extinguish it before you leave the area.
- Ride with consideration for the environment and other LBL users.
- Stay on designated trails. Motor bikes are not allowed.
- Mountain bikes are not allowed on hiking and horseback trails, except as designated.
- During quota gun hunts, riding is restricted to numbered roads only. Riders must wear hunter orange during hunting seasons. Visit Hunt Dates for information on hunting seasons.
- Helmets and protective eyewear should be worn.
- It is recommended that mountain bikers leave an itinerary at any LBL Welcome Station before embarking on extended trips.
Canoe Trip Regulations
- Guided canoe trips are offered throughout the operating season at The Nature Station. We include a guide, canoe, life vests and paddles. A calendar of events is available at our Welcome Centers, or check the Calendar section of our web site.
- Reservations are recommended for all canoe trips. Some trips may be canceled because of weather or if minimum participation requirements are not met. Call for availability: 270-924-2020.
- It is recommended that you wear old clothes and shoes that can get wet and muddy.
- Each youth 13-17 must be accompanied by an adult. Ages 5-12 must be accompanied by two adult paddlers. Limited to age 5 years and up.
- Life jackets must be worn.
- Each canoe can accommodate 2 paddlers and 1 passenger. Minimum participation of 5 canoes; maximum of 8 canoes per trip required.
Elk & Bison Prairie Regulations
Elk and Bison are wild animals--- they can be dangerous and unpredictable. They should not be approached. Bison and elk have been known to charge, and can reach speeds up to 35mph.
The roads within the Elk & Bison Prairie are legal Forest Service roads; therefore all regulations governing motor vehicle use, as well as driver and passenger safety regulations, on Land Between The Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area still apply.
Pursuant to provisions of 16 USC Section 551, and Title 36 CFR Section 261.50(a) and (b), the following acts or omissions are prohibited in the Elk & Bison Prairie enclosure located within LBL.
- The collection or removal of any natural resources or wildlife is prohibited.
- Harassing or molestation of wildlife (approaching when animal is within 200 feet, feeding, calling, etc.) is prohibited. Persons must remain inside their vehicle when wildlife is within 200 feet.
- Being in the area after sundown or before sunrise is prohibited.
- Foot traffic is prohibited over 50 feet from the paved roadway and interpretative areas.
- Vehicles are restricted to the paved road only.
- Pets are to be confined within motor vehicles at all times.
- Motorcycles, bicycles, equestrian travel, and persons traveling on foot are prohibited from entering the enclosure.
- Illegal entry, including areas within the Elk & Bison Prairie gated or otherwise closed to public use is prohibited. Visitors may access enclosure via The Trace at fee entrance gate only.
- Violations of posted instructions regarding the use of the Elk & Bison Prairie are prohibited.
- Vehicles are prohibited from entering the prairie while containing or trailering cattle, horses, cervids, hogs, or other exotic hoof-stock.
- Hunting and trapping are prohibited within the Elk & Bison Prairie.
Violations of the above prohibition are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000.00 for an individual or $10,000.00 for an organization or imprisonment for not more than six (6) months or both.
- Anglers 16 and older in Kentucky and 13 and older in Tennessee must have a state fishing license. No LBL permit is required.
- Bowfishing is permitted for nongame fish species along the LBL shoreline of Kentucky and Barkley Lakes and in Honker, Energy and Bards Lakes when open for fishing. State licenses are required.
- Frog gigging is permitted by gig only (no firearms) along the LBL shoreline and in LBL interior ponds, Bards, Energy and Honker Lakes. State seasons and bag limits apply. Frog giggers must possess an LBL Hunter Use Permit; in Kentucky, a hunting or fishing license is also required. In Tennessee, a hunting license is also required.
- Pets must be kept in your vehicle or on a leash at all times.
- Portions of some LBL bays will be closed through early summer to protect nesting bald eagles. Other LBL bays, ponds and interior lakes are closed to fishing at certain times of the year to protect wildlife. Closed areas are indicated by buoys and signs or can be obtained from LBL by requesting an Angling Information Guide.
- Should you need assistance, contact the USDA Forest Service Law Enforcement Monday-Friday 8am-4:30pm by calling 270-924-2196. For emergencies or to report a crime, please call 911 or 1-877-861-2457.
- Report loss, theft, accident, or disturbance to USDA Forest Service Law Enforcement. LBL is not responsible for theft or damage to personal property.
- Disorderly conduct or disturbance of the peace is prohibited.
- Motor vehicles are permitted only on legal roads and in the Turkey Bay Off-Highway Vehicle Area. An LBL Recreation Map is available for purchase at any LBL Welcome Center or at this link: http://www.lbl.org/VCMaps.html
- All LBL designated roads where public motor vehicle use is authorized are identified on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM). Visitors should refer to the MVUM for authorized motor vehicle routes. The MVUM is available by clicking HERE and at any LBL Welcome Center.
- Parking is permitted within one vehicle length of a legal road. Blocking the access to any road or trail is prohibited.
- OHVs, including trail bikes, motorcross bikes, mini-bikes, all-terrain vehicles, three- and four-wheelers, may be operated in Turkey Bay OHV Area only. OHV riding is not permitted outside Turkey Bay OHV Area.
- The maximum speed limit on The Trace is 50 mph. The speed limit through campgrounds and day-use areas is 15 mph. The speed limit on all other designated/legal roads in LBL is 35 mph unless otherwise posted.
- All motor vehicles, including motorcycles, must be properly licensed to operate on LBL designated roads.
- Moped operators must comply with all LBL and state regulations. In Kentucky, operators of a scooter/moped/motorized cycle must possess a valid state driver's license. In Tennessee, operators of a scooter/moped/motorized cycle must possess a Motor Driven Cycle License and wear a helmet. Detailed regulations are available at the Golden Pond Visitor Center, North and South Welcome Stations, and Hillman Ferry, Piney, and Energy Lake Campgrounds.
- All dogs, cats and other pets must be kept on a leash at all times. The exception is hunting dogs during authorized hunts and field trials. All pets must have current rabies inoculations and have collars identifying the owner's name and address.
- Possession, transportation or discharge of firearms, air guns, crossbows, bows and arrows or other weapons and explosives, including fireworks, is prohibited except authorized hunting equipment during set hunt dates.
- Properly treat all trail-side water before consuming.
- Swimming and boating on Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley are permitted except where restricted by signs. No lifeguards are on duty anywhere in LBL. No swimming allowed at boat ramps.
- Boats must be operated and equipped in accordance with state and federal boating laws. Boating on sub-impoundments shall be in accordance with regulations posted at each location. Boats are prohibited on ponds.
- Wildlife and plants are protected. Carvings, nails, and lanterns will damage and destroy our plants. Lanterns should not be hung directly against the side of a tree. Any line (if used) should be removed upon departure. Living plants (including trees and shrubs) shall not be cut, removed, injured, dug, or destroyed unless specifically authorized by written permit or through duly executed contract. (Note exception: mushrooms, nuts, berries, or other fruit may be picked or gathered.)
- Please respect the cemeteries. No camping or riding is permitted within cemetery boundaries. Violation of graves is prohibited by state and federal laws and will be prosecuted fully. Penalties include imprisonment and fines.
- Proper disposal of all gray and black water is required. It is illegal to dump these waste waters on the ground, into the lake, or in chemical or vault toilets. Violators will be prosecuted. Dump stations are provided at North Welcome Station, South Welcome Station, and just south of Golden Pond Visitor Center near the Hunter Check Station. Backcountry users are required to dispose of waste properly according to Kentucky and Tennessee state regulations. All waste produced while utilizing Backcountry Areas must be contained and properly disposed. All toilet paper, sanitary products, disposable diapers, etc., must be packed out.
- Home or commercial refuse shall not be deposited anywhere in LBL. Waters adjacent to or within the area shall not be polluted in any manner. All litter must be disposed of in receptacles provided.
- Destruction, defacement, disturbance, or removal of any building, sign, structure, barrier, archaeological artifact, natural feature, or public property of any kind is prohibited and punishable by imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000. Likewise, private structures cannot be built or maintained in LBL. The use of metal detectors within LBL is strictly prohibited.
- Selling goods or items within LBL is allowed by permit only. Advertising and private or public notices may not be distributed or displayed in the area unless authorized. Do not place any information on bulletin boards.
- It is recommended that hikers register at an LBL Welcome Center.
- Garbage -- "Pack It In -- Pack It Out."
- Horses, motor vehicles, and mountain bikes are prohibited on hiking trails except for approved organized events and on designated segments of the North/South Trail.
- Leave the plants and flowers for others to enjoy.
- Overnight camping is permitted along the trails. See Back Country Camping for more guidelines.
Horseback Riding Regulations
- Proof of a current EIA test (Coggin's Test) for all horses and a current health certificate for all out-of -state horses is required.
- Horseback riding is permitted along back country road and authorized trails.
- Horses are prohibited from cemeteries, agricultural fields, and camping/day use trails.
- Horses are restricted from hiking trails and the Trace except marked portions of the North/South Trail.
- Wagons are required to have florescent triangles displayed. For night riding, front and rear are required.
- Day users are required to us the Day-Use parking lot.
- LBL gun deer hunts are held in Oct. and Nov. During that time horseback riding is restricted. Please call ahead to check hunt dates and areas that are open to horseback riding.
- All campers with horses must camp at Wranglers Campground.
- Campers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
- Pets must be on a leash of 6 ft. or less and under physical control while in the campground.
- Horse washing is allowed only at the horse wash stations.
- After 10 p.m., no riding or wagon driving allowed in the campground.
- Stallions must be kept in a stall or trailer at night.
- State law prohibits public consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Fireworks are prohibited.
- Make sure your horses are not tied so close to trees that they can chew the tree bark. Damage to trees is punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000.
- Wildlife and plants are protected. Please do not feed the wildlife.
- Hunting is permitted during approved hunting seasons only. See our Hunting Information Sheets for hunt dates.
- Hunters must possess a $25 Annual LBL Hunter Use Permit or a $35 Annual Hunting and BackCountry Camping Permit. Permits can be obtained from any LBL Welcome Facility or where ever KY & TN Hunting licenses are sold. (Hunting/Backcountry Camping Permit is not sold on KY State licensing system.)
- All hunters must have an LBL Hunter Use Permit and applicable state licenses. To hunt deer with firearms, hunters must apply during the month of July and be drawn for a quota deer hunt permit. To hunt during the first several days of spring turkey season, hunters must apply during February and be drawn for a quota turkey hunt permit.
- A Federal Migratory Waterfowl Stamp and state waterfowl stamps are needed for waterfowl hunting in addition to LBL and state licenses and permits.
- Hunters must possess a hunter safety card according to state regulations, and all youth hunters must receive hunter safety instructions.
- Portable tree stands and climbing devices that do not injure trees are permitted.
- Licensed motorized vehicles are permitted only on roads which are marked by numbered signs and corresponding numbers on the LBL Recreation Map and MVUM. Other LBL roads are for administrative access or trails, but are not legal to drive on.
- Unlicensed motorized vehicles, including four-wheelers, are allowed only in the Turkey Bay Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area and require a permit.
- Parking is permitted within one vehicle length of a legal road. Blocking access to any road or trail is prohibited. Rutting of fields is prohibited. Do not leave campfire rings (rocks) in fields.
- Firearms possessed during legal hunting season must be unloaded in both magazine and chamber and must be in a case during transport in vehicles.
- Both KY and TN now permit the use of air guns for small game (KY & TN) and furbearers and crow (TN). In accordance with state regulations, it is legal to hunt with air guns on LBL according to respective state regulations. Also, in accordance with firearms use on LBL, all guns transported in vehicles must be unloaded in both magazine and chamber and must be in a case. Big game hunting is not permitted in KY or TN with air guns.
- In 2013, Kentucky legalized night hunting for coyotes. However, night hunting for coyotes is prohibited on Land Between The Lakes.