I have lived in Kentucky most of my life and am still learning new things about our great state! Recently we took a trip over to western Kentucky and did some exploring in the Land Between the Lakes area. We were able to see bison and elk up close on the prairie and tour a working 1850’s farm. It’s been about 15 years since we last visited this area and we were excited to make some new memories.
Exploring Land Between the Lakes: Kentucky
As part of America’s great outdoors since 1963, Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area manages over 170,000 acres of forests, wetlands, and open lands on a peninsula between Kentucky and Barkley lakes in Western Kentucky and Tennessee. The family friendly recreation area offers one of the largest blocks of undeveloped forest in the eastern United States.
Golden Pond Visitors Center & Planetarium
We started our Land Between the Lakes adventure at the Golden Pond Visitors Center & Planetarium. Though we didn’t have time to enjoy the planetarium, we did spend a few minutes walking through the visitors center museum area.
Tip: If you collect ecoins, then make sure you stop here at the Golden Pond Visitors Center to create your souvenir coins! There are also restrooms and a gift shop here as well!
Elk & Bison Prairie
To tour the Elk & Bison Prairie, you must purchase an access card at the Visitors Center for $5.00. Don’t rely on the credit card reader because it is not always working.
The Elk & Bison Prairie offers a native grassland habitat common in Kentucky more than a century ago. Elk and bison roam free within this 700-acre enclosure. Visitors travel in their enclosed vehicle via a 3.5-mile paved loop road. Numerous other wildlife species also thrive in the prairie. Wild turkeys, a variety of birds, small game, butterflies, and prairie mammals find sanctuary in the Elk & Bison Prairie.
When we first entered the Elk Bison Recreation Area, we met up with a park official who had elk antlers and bison hide for the kids to touch and hold. The park ranger had information and insight on the animals in the park as well as pencils and stickers for the kids.
It only takes about 15-20 minutes to make the loop one time. But that doesn’t mean you are done after you get around the first time. We ended up driving around 4 times and each time we made the loop, we saw more wildlife.
The first time we only saw a handful of turkeys and a couple of elk. But then we went around again.
The ultimate thing we wanted to see on our trip through the Elk & Bison Prairie was the bison. But they seemed to be hiding from us. On our last loop we found them though! They were lumbering down the hill on the back side of the prairie. Then they kept coming closer and closer toward us till finally the crossed the road right in front of us.
It is a little intimidating to be sitting in your vehicle and watch these massive animals come right up next to your vehicle. The line of vehicles was at a complete stop while the bison took their time moving down the prairie and across the road.
Once the bison wondered off in the distance, we drove a few miles farther down to the Homeplace Working Farm.
The Homeplace Working Farm
You can buy a ticket at the entrance of the Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum for $5.00 (ages 13 and older). Then you get to walk around the working farm and interact with the people who are living and breathing the culture of an authentic 1850’s farm.
We spent a few minutes talking to two of the ladies who were wrapping up the day at the big farm house. They had been dying wool, working the garden and were entering the information from the day’s chores when we talked to them. This is not a static museum, but a living, working farm.
Don’t be fooled by the animals roaming free on the farm. These animals are not pets, so don’t feed the sheep.
Homeplace 1850s Working Farm and Living History Museum represents a two-generation farm. When you visit the Homeplace, you will see interpreters in period clothing going about their daily chores. You’ll find the perfect blend of artifacts, restored historic structures, and traditional seasonal activities to step you back in time to relive history before the Civil War. Even our livestock includes rare and endangered breeds. We cultivate many varieties of garden plants and field crops; most from heirloom seeds dating back before the Civil War. These heirloom seeds can be purchased in our gift shop.
Looking for Food and Lodging Recommendations?
Check out Patti’s 1880’s Settlement for the best food and family entertainment and Big Bear Resort for lodging options that will meet your needs whether you are on a fishing trip or planning a family weekend getaway.
Have you spent any time on Land Between the Lakes? What’s your favorite time of year to visit?
Connect with Land Between the Lakes
238 Visitor Center Dr.
Golden Pond, KY 42211