With the Appalachian Mountains to the east, and the Mississippi River to the west, the borders between Tennessee and Kentucky resemble the very music that makes the region so famous: rock ‘n’ roll. But don’t be fooled by these states’ landlocked status; with a combined 1,605 square miles of navigable water, Tennessee and Kentucky are the perfect destination for your next boating adventure. Pack your fishing pole, camera, a hearty appetite and a copy of Life on the Mississippi, and, with your Boston Whaler fishing boat or day cruiser boat in tow, prepare to enjoy some of America’s most historic rivers and lakes.
Starting in Tiptonville and traveling down the western spine of the Tennessee border toward Memphis, one can see how much this lower section of the Mississippi has to offer. After seeing the Chickasaw Bluffs rising high above the floodplain, explore the woodlands of Fort Pillow State Park. Experience the beauty of the majestic bald cypresses at Reelfoot Lake State Park, an important stop for migrating birds.
In addition to natural vistas, the Tennessee Great River Road oﬀers bustling cityscapes. Make sure to spend some time in Memphis, where Graceland, Beale Street and Sun Studio are considered mandatory stops on any music lover’s journey through the region. Mud Island River Park in Memphis features an exact scale model of the Lower Mississippi, providing travelers with a clear view of the river’s might. There are many full-service marinas and boat launch facilities along camping sites up and down the river.
Stretching 184 miles, Kentucky Lake is the largest manmade body of water east of the Mississippi River. It’s also one of many in a chain of lakes in Kentucky and Tennessee constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Located in Western Kentucky, Kentucky Lake is within a day’s drive from most of America’s heartland, making it a popular boating and watercraft destination. Kentucky Lake is bordered on the east by Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, one of Kentucky’s most visited attractions.
A little over an hour and a half drive from Knoxville, Norris Lake makes for a perfect day trip. Expanding over 33,000 acres, Norris Lake is surrounded by Chuck Swan State Forest. Take your Whaler across the pristine turquoise waters and enjoy the rolling hills at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains. Make a splash in one of the various swimming areas or find a peaceful spot along the shoreline to set up camp for the weekend.
Norris Dam State Park surrounds the lake, which is home to cabins, camping sites and a recreation center. It is also home to the Lenoir Museum Cultural Complex, which consists of two historical structures: the Crosby Threshing Barn and the Rice Gristmill.
South-central Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland beckons outdoor lovers to explore its breathtaking beauty and lures boaters with 52 boat ramps and more than 5,400 slips at 10 marinas. This vast body of water spans 65,530 acres, stretches some 100 miles end-to-end, measures over a mile at its widest point and borders six counties.
If you really want to get your heart rate going when visiting Lake Cumberland, try wakeboarding, water skiing or white water rafting. Lake Cumberland is also a known fishing spot, with numerous places offering fishing tours around the lake.
Lake Cumberland State Resort Park sits along the northern shore of the lake and oﬀers numerous activities, including swimming, hiking and horseback riding. With stunning panoramas, dazzling waterfalls and clandestine coves, it’s a great place to spend a weekend on deck.