The Four Big Attractions of the Land Between the Lakes

Written by

Jason Barnette


August 6, 2017

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COVID-19 has changed the world. The tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit areas of the global pandemic. Local restaurants, museums, state and national parks have all changed hours of operation, procedures, and some have gone out of business altogether.

Please verify current operations of any places you want to visit mentioned in these articles, and contact me if a business has permanently closed so I can update the article. Thank you and stay safe out there!

The aptly named Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area is straddled on either side by lakes and offers lots of options within the 170,000 acre nature preserve. Camping, hiking, horseback riding, and fishing are just a few of the ways to enjoy some serious time in this beautiful natural area. But there are four big attractions in the recreation are that offer some different, and unique, entertainment during your exploration. Which of these would you like to do on your next trip?

Woodlands Nature Station

The Nature Station is similar to a small zoo but also with an educational space, equipment rentals, and special events throughout the year. Walk along the paths meandering between areas for various birds and wildlife. Take a seat on a comfy bench and watch dozens of hummingbirds buzz back and forth.

The 8,500-acre Nature Watch Area allows naturalists, bird watches, photographers, and hikers access to an undisturbed area of the recreation area. In this area it is common to spot deer, racoons, blue herons, hawks, and hummingbirds. If you want to stay more local take a walk around the coyote pen or the great horned owl; if you’re lucky your visit will coincide with a feeding time for the coyotes.

The Nature Station is also the place to visit to rent canoes and kayaks. Getting on the water at the Land Between the Lakes is a great way to experience nature and see some different kind of wildlife up close.

Admission: $5 for Adults, $3 for Children ages 5-12, and Free for Children under 4

TIP: Purchase a Fun Card for $35 and you get 10 admissions in any combination to the Woodlands Nature Station, Golden Pond Planetarium, and Homeplace 1850s Working Farm.

Elk & Bison Prairie

The Elk & Bison Prairie is one of the most exciting and popular destinations within the Land Between the Lakes. The 700-acre enclosed field has a large herd of American bison and a smaller herd of elk that roam freely. The one-lane, one-way loop road allows visitors to drive through the prairie in search of the herds and capture photos when they are finally located.

You must remain at least 200′ away from the wildlife at all times, as much for their safety as yours. But that is plenty enough room to be able to get a few photos and enjoy their presence. Drive carefully as you take the curves on the road because you just might find the bison in the middle of the road! The best times to see them are just after sunrise and about an hour before sunset each day as the temps cool down and shadows get longer. The elk love to grave in the shadow of trees in large fields just before sunset.

Admission: $5 per vehicle. Visit the Golden Pond Visitor Center to purchase entry cards and save money. 3 Entry Cards are $10 and 5 Entry Cards are $15.

Golden Pond Planetarium

Located at the Gold Pond Visitor Center, the Planetarium features a nice digital projector with shows throughout the week. The 360-degree surround sound system will whisk you away to other planets in the solar system, explorations of science, and journeys around the world. Most of the shows are about 40 minutes long so it’s easy to pop inside to cool off during the hot summer months but not miss a chance to do something else in the great outdoors.

The visitor center also includes an information desk, gift shop, and small museum that makes for a nice walk through. There are restrooms on site and vending machines. From the parking lot there is a nice trail that runs alongside the highway toward each lake.

Admission: $5 for Adults, $3 for Children ages 5-12, and Free for Children under 4. Laser shows are $7 per person.

Homeplace 1850s Working Farm

This interesting history museum and working farm is a great place to explore throughout the year. Start with a few minutes in the museum to learn about farming techniques and technology in the 1850s. There is an information desk, restrooms, and a small gift shop.

Head through the museum to reach the working farm (after buying a ticket, of course). A long, flat path leads to a large area with several historic buildings, a few small gardens, and some typical farm animals of the time (sheep, bull, and chickens). Wander around the various buildings, explore inside most of them, and experience what life was like on a farm before this became the Land Between the Lakes.

Walk to the very back of the working farm to find the sheep that never seem to stop baaaaahing at people. A little further back you’ll find the massive steer beside an old barn. During the summer months and special events reenactors will be dressed for the period and performing tasks on the farm like tending crops or making fresh ice cream!

Admission: $5 for Adults, $3 for Children ages 5-12, and Free for Children under 4

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