Barren River Lake State Resort Park
Established January 1, 1965
Vast forests did not cover all of Kentucky. In the south-central portion of the state an area of open grasslands known as the "Barrens" made a stark contrast to the heavily forested terrain surrounding it. Native Americans had repeatedly burned the forests that once covered the region as a means to stampede and kill big game. These fires created an open savannah that in turn drew all types of wild game to feed off its lush grasses. Buffalo herds migrated eastward across the Mississippi to Illinois, and then to Kentucky. These herds came to the Barrens and multiplied, providing food and clothing for the Indians.
The open lands of the Barrens also drew settlers who found the treeless areas easy to cultivate. Originally the pioneers thought the treeless grasslands infertile because of the lack of forestation. They soon found the soil to be some of the best that they had encountered. Farms and communities soon began to cover the area. In 1798 Barren County became the 37th county of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Taken from parts of Green and Warren counties, Barren consisted of 1,500 square miles. Beginning in 1815, the county had 1,000 square miles taken away to create portions of Allen, Edmonson, Hart, Metcalfe, and Monroe Counties.
Although Barren County had a railroad, most of south-central Kentucky remained isolated. The need for development became a topic for most civic and government organizations. A dam on Barren River had economic potential in the promotion of tourism. By 1960, construction of a 146 foot-high dam began on the river. When completed the dam had created Barren River Lake. The lake covers 10,000 acres and has a shoreline of 141 miles. The Louisville division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed and built the dam. They continue to maintain the lake.
A movement by the people of Barren County to establish a park next to the lake became a reality on January 1, 1965. The state purchased adjoining farms to extend the park site and the Louisville Corps of Engineers donated acreage to round out the park's boundaries. In 1966 the park constructed a boat dock with a marina. The Department of the Interior, Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, approved a total development project of $3,469,000. A federal grant of $1,734,500 funded 50 percent of the estimated cost.
In 1971 the Louie B. Nunn State Lodge opened. The lodge overlooks the beautiful 10,000-acre lake. Barren River Lake is located in some of Kentucky's most scenic countryside. On the first weekend in June the park hosts Glasgow Highland Games, a festival celebrating Scottish heritage. Thousands of people attend this popular event each year.
A lighted basketball court, two lighted tennis courts, shuffleboard and volleyball courts are located on the park. Overnight guests may check out sports equipment at the recreation office. Planned recreation includes daily summer activities and year-round special events for children and adults under the direction of a trained recreation director. Ext. 2004.
Bike & Hiking Trail: two-and-one half mile loop, paved, begins at golf course entrance near lodge, restrooms available near Highland Field.
Barren River State Resort Park offers year-round birding opportunities with the best occurring fall through spring. Neotropical migrants such as flycatchers, thrushes and warblers are common in the fall and spring and waterbird migration occurs from late summer through spring. The best period for observing Bald Eagles is October through March when they are regularly seen at the park, and Sandhill Cranes are often seen November through February.
The marina has 100 open slips, 40 covered slips, a launching ramp, jet skis and boat (fishing, pontoon, ski boats, and kayaks) rentals available. Marina telephone: 1-800-699-2628.
Let the sounds of the outdoors lull you to sleep in the 99-site campground. Utility hookups are available, some with sewer hookups and wooden decks. For your convenience, a dump station and two central service buildings with showers and rest rooms are offered. Closed Nov 1 - Mar 31.
Pets are allowed if restrained. Electric service at all sites 100V/30A. Laundry facilities available: $1.75 wash / $1.25 dry. Please call for rates: 1-888-4KY-PARK or visit www.reserveamerica.com. Ext. 2407.
Barren River Lake also is unsurpassed for fishing pleasure. With an abundance of hybrid bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, walleye, crappie, and catfish, you are sure to get a bite!
Enjoy a "par"fect day on the 18-hole, regulation golf course. A fully equipped pro shop, riding carts, and rental clubs are available. 18-hole Golf packages are available. Course open year-round, weather permitting. Pro Shop Number: 1-800-295-1876.
Two self-guided trails on park. Connell Nature Trail: one-mile trail begins at the head of the road leading to the Sunset Cove viewing area. Bike & Hiking Trail: two-and-one half mile loop, paved, begins at golf course entrance near lodge, restrooms available near Highland Field.
The entire family will enjoy guided trail rides that depart every hour. Open Memorial Day-Labor Day.
Orienteering is a sport in woods navigation where a person uses a map and compass to complete a course. It can be done by yourself or with your family. It is a great way to spend part of the day discovering new parts of the park! Barren River Lake State Resort Park offers a two permanent orienteering courses. A beginners’ course covering 1.6 km featuring 9 controls (check points) and an intermediate course covering 3.9 km featuring 16 controls, both in a wooded setting.
Two picnic areas are located toward the marina with picnic tables and grills provided. Shelters that can be rented are the Highland Shelter (restrooms, playground, grill); 31-E Shelter (restrooms, playground, grill); Entertainment Shelter (stage): Harp Shelter; Recreation Shelter; Strathbarren Shelter; and Tennis Court Shelter (tennis, volleyball, basketball courts, and playground).
Playgrounds are located in the lodge, Highland shelter, 31-E shelter, cottage, and camping areas.
A shuffleboard court is located near the lodge. Overnight guests may check out equipment at the front desk or recreation office.
Relax on our sandy beach and take a dip in the lake! Severe weather can have an effect on beach closures. Please call the park in advanced for conditions.
Two lighted tennis courts are located near the lodge. Overnight guests may check out sports equipment at the recreation office.
Sand volleyball courts are located near the lodge, tennis courts, and campground check-in booth. Overnight guests may check out sports equipment with the recreation office.
Barren River Lake State Resort Park is not affiliated with AmericanTowns Media