It’s easy to see why lakes in Kentucky are so beautiful. The lakes stretch for miles, their shores rimmed with trees and populated by wildlife. And it’s not just the lakes that draw people here – there are also rivers, creeks, hillsides covered with wildflowers, and old-growth forests where you’re never far from a deer or fox.

Lakes in Kentucky offer activities for almost everyone – camping on the shoreline, fishing off the pier at dusk, hiking through deep woods all day long…you can even explore caves or ride horses across meadows of tall grasses! There’s no other place like lakes in Kentucky where you can find so much beauty within such close proximity to home.

When it’s time to sit down and plan your next Kentucky lake vacation, make sure you bookmark our site so you can work your way through our exhaustive listings. We’ll help you find what you’re looking for, everything from:

  • The best Kentucky lakes for swimming – think beautiful swimming areas and sandy beaches
  • The best lakes for boating in Kentucky – we’ll find you the perfect body of water for fishing, with easy access boat ramps, or boat rentals
  • The clearest lakes in Kentucky – find yourself a vacation rental with a view and enjoy a relaxing getaway with a view in any season.

Find Kentucky Lakes Near You

If lakes in Kentucky are calling your name, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for among our lakes. To help narrow down your options, we’ve put together a list of some of our picks for the best lakes in Kentucky!

The best lakes to visit in Kentucky

Lake Cumberland: Just outside of town on this lake offering multiple access points along its more than 1,200 miles of shoreline. One of the more popular getaways on the lake is to rent a houseboat, where you can stay for several days as you float around and enjoy all the sights and sounds. You can also take advantage of Lake Cumberland’s many campsites and rental cottages along its shores if you’re looking for a lakeside getaway.

Circle Lake: Popular with rafters and bikers on the weekends but still quiet enough during the week for swimming and relaxing, Circle Lake is one of the best lakes in Kentucky.

Lake Desoto: With almost 100 miles of shoreline facing eastward toward Tennessee, Lake Desoto has some great views. Fishing is popular on this lakes, as is kayaking.

Kentucky Lake: At more than 200 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 400 feet, Kentucky Lake is one of the best lakes in Kentucky for fishing, boating (including water skiing and jet skiing), and swimming.

Lake Malone: A favorite with mountain bikers who use its unpaved roads for training, Lake Malone also offers great areas for horseback riding and hiking. Swimming isn’t recommended here due to the presence of alligators.

Lake Nantahala: Another popular spot with mountain bikers, Lake Nantahala is surrounded by hardwood forests that are home to deer and wild turkey year-round. This lake also has some excellent campsites along its shores.

Lake Red River: There’s a lot to discover around lakes in Kentucky, and Lake Red River is no exception – along the lakeshore you can see native plants as well as rare orchids. Birdwatchers love this lakeshore too, particularly during the spring and summer when migrating species pass through.

Cedar Creek Lake: Cedar Creek Lake is best known for its excellent fishing opportunities – bass, catfish, bluegill and crappie are all common here – but it also offers some beautiful views of nearby hills and mountains.

Lake Nolin: A favorite with hikers and bikers because of its proximity to Mammoth Cave National Park, Lake Nolin also offers excellent fishing opportunities along its shoreline. Swimming isn’t always safe here due to the presence of alligators.

Lake Barkley: This lakes has lots of shoreline to explore, each with its own attractions. Whether you’re looking for a quiet lakeside camping experience or a lakeside restaurant and marina where you can dine on Kentucky Lake’s famous paddlefish, you’ll find this lake has something to offer everyone.

Lake Dorton: A favorite among those looking to spend some time out on Kentucky Lake, Lake Dorton is surrounded by hills and deep forests that provide the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities like hiking and birdwatching. Camping is also popular at this lakeside area.

Carpenter Lake: With more than 7,000 surface acres, there’s plenty of room for swimming, kayaking, canoeing and fishing on Carpenter Lake. In addition to camping at nearby lakeshore campgrounds you can also stay in one of the lakeside cottages or log cabins available for rent here.

Whether you’re looking for a lakeside getaway or just want to enjoy some time on the water, Kentucky lakes have something for everyone. Whether you prefer lakes with great fishing opportunities like Cedar Creek Lake or lakes where you can wake up and watch the sunrise over Kentucky Lake like Kentucky Lakes Islands – there’s no better place than these lakes in Kentucky!

A Little More Info

If you’re looking for a little more information and a personal take on Kentucky Lakes specifically, check out our friend Trey’s website Stay Bluegrass.  He’s written a nice and comprehensive article on some of the largest and smallest lakes in Kentucky.  His site is also a great resource for the different regions in Kentucky and various activities to check out in each region.