Land Between the Lakes, Cadiz, Kentucky


Hillman T-42

Hillman Ferry Campground Site T-42. Nice shade, but shorter than we expected.

Bill plotted the route to our first adventure to the midwest (southern Illinois), to visit his mom, brother and sister-in-law. He decided our return route to Virginia would be via Kentucky. On the way to Southern Illinois, from Alabama (click here to read our last post), we sampled Western Kentucky in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Park.

According to this website, “Land Between The Lakes (LBL) is a 170,000-acre national recreation area in Western Kentucky and Tennessee located near I-24, about 90 miles north of Nashville, TN, and just south of Paducah, KY….LBL is an inland peninsula formed when the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers were impounded, creating Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley — one of the world’s largest man-made bodies of water. In 1959, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River, many recognized the recreational and environmental education benefits of what would soon become Land Between the Lakes, a near-island between two man-made lakes….In 1963, President John F. Kennedy created Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area.” 

The initial plan was to be here for five days. We’d hoped we’d get in a lot of great hikes and history lessons.  Until we arrived, we realized we hadn’t “dug” deep enough to learn more about this unique area. And we may be learning, in National Parks there may be limited cell towers to use our cell phone and our new MIFI. How sad to now read the history of this area as I write this, to not fully understand it while there.  More on it later in this post.

The journey here was quite an adventure. Ok, the actual drive was fantastic as Bill now feels confident in how Tiffany responds to challenging roads. But…..well, first, here’s a slide show to demonstrate the good:

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The problem came once we got over the bridge onto the LBL peninsula.  While I thought I programmed the correct “address” to the campground in our GPS, it wasn’t correct. For some reason, we haven’t been able to get GPS coordinates to work in our GPS so we now know we have to figure that out!  Anyway, once we got over the bridge and construction, we drove between 10 and 15 miles across to the other end of the peninsula, where there was more construction. And we didn’t see but one sign, to the Visitor’s Center. Bill wanted turn there, but it was not visible from the road so we couldn’t tell if it would accommodate our 40′ home while towing our car. Certainly we’d see other signs we I thought. NOPE. Not one sign.  So we took the last road before exiting the peninsula and had to make a decision after driving up it a 1/4 mile or so.  We called the phone number listed and more or less were told to just go back to the Visitor’s Center and look for the signs there.

We drove the 10-15 miles back to the Visitor’s Center. The road this time took us to an under pass and there were ALL the signs we were looking for. UNDER the road we PASSED over. So maybe this is a minor glitch, or was it a hint of what was to come?

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The signage to all of the various campgrounds and “things to do” locations. UNDER the OVERPASS or the main road where we entered the LBL.

So minor details to finding our way around. We only lost about an hour of our precious time to enjoy this fabulous park!  We discovered this National Recreation Park and campground in another blogger’s post, Wheelin’ It. Here is where they reviewed the Hillman Ferry Campground and made this sound like a place we had to see!  But we quickly learned we made a mistake by not trying to park where they were (section C) with only water and electricity.  We really like the full hook ups (section T) since it was such an ordeal to get our washer and dryer! At their compound site, both their AT & T and Verizon phones worked.  So as it turned out, we were deep in the center of the campground, where we had full hook ups (added sewer), but there was no cell tower service! Initially, we tried to get into their section, but the sites big enough for us were already reserved. The good news was we could use our phone when we were on the little beaches and in parts of our hikes. Lesson learned, we hope!

Let’s cut to the chase! Other than these minor inconveniences, we did find the park very serene and lush as you can tell by the picture of our site. We were ready to get out and hike. But since we discovered we couldn’t use our All Trails app to find a place to hike, Bill drove up to the Northern Visitor Center which was only a few miles from us as opposed to the main center. He came back with maps. It was getting too late to try to do much hiking, so I just took a short walk up to the Ranger’s station to see if my phone would work and check out one hiking area. The signal was weak but at least we now had an ambitious hike planned for day 2.

North-South Trail:  Described as a 31 mile point to point trail, rated as moderate.  Of course, we only did a small portion of it, 7.95 miles in a loop. It did have some challenging spots, lots of switch backs as we ascended some hills, but was relatively easy for us. But in the heat, it did take its toll….

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We really enjoyed the hike but wanted to research the Nickell family. Due to the inability to use our computer or phone, we had to wait until we left. And now we know, had we visited the Homeplace (see below), we would have learned first hand about the family history.

The next day, we decided we needed to take a shorter hike. I had met a family when we were checking in that recommended this route so we took them up on it. Another great walk in the woods. We can’t count it as a hike as we didn’t need our poles, but at over a 4 mile walk, it was a good workout in the humidity!  And there was a storm brewing – I checked the weather app while on the “beach.”

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We knew we were once again on hallowed ground. We really wondered about the children and grandchildren of those in these cemeteries.  Do they come pay their respects?  This was a very small cemetery with only about six buried here that we could tell.

We pretty much decided we wouldn’t be able explore any of the other great “things to do” since our time was slipping away. You can read more about things to do here from the website:

The Nature Station @ GPS Coordinates: N 36 54′ 03.7” W 88 02′ 21.5”   A hands on encounter with the natural world right in our backyard! The Nature Station is located in the woods between Honker and Hematite Lakes. It is home to many animals such as: great horned owls, coyotes, the exclusive red wolf, and many more. The station offers guided tours throughout the day. Many activities are offered for both adults and children such as: hiking, canoeing, seminars, wildlife gardening, nature photography and more.

Elk & Bison Prairie  @ GPS Coordinates: N 36 47′ 23.16” W 88 03′ 13.0”  The Elk and Bison Prairie is a 700-acre restoration of Kentucky’s native habitat. It was created as a restoration project for the species. A gentle winding road will guide you through this remarkable habitat restoration effort. Be sure to watch for elk and bison, and listen for the magnificent bugling of the elk.
OPEN ALL YEAR DAWN TILL DUSK Call for more info: 1-270-924-2000 or 1-800-LBL-7077

Golden Pond Planetarium @ GPS Coordinates: N 36 46′ 41.13” W 88 03′ 45.2”  The Golden Pond Planetarium (located inside the Golden Pond Visitor Center), operated by the Land Between The Lakes Association, brings to life the fascinating world of outer space and modern space exploration….The Planetarium offers three different shows: Images of the Infinite, The Voyager Encounters, and Kentucky Skies, each is shown at various times daily throughout the March-December operating season.
SEASON: March 1 to mid-December. The Golden Pond Planetarium is closed November 22-30 to prepare for the Christmas Show which opens on December 1st.
For more information call : 1-800-455-5897

The Homeplace @ GPS Coordinates: N 36 39′ 17.4” W 87 58′ 32.9”  History comes alive at The Homeplace – 1850, a working 19th century farm. Each day interpreters in period clothing demonstrate the daily chores and activities of the period. The events and festivals highlight the spirit and times of this era throughout the season. Some examples include, sheep shearing in the spring, music making on a summer’s night, or bringing in the harvest in the fall. The farm contains 16 log structures, 14 of them original. Most of the crops and livestock are historic varieties from the mid-19th century, grown and harvested using period tools and techniques.
SEASON: Mar. 1-Nov. 30 DAYS: Daily, Apr. 1-Oct. 31. Open daily in March from 9am to 5pm Mon. – Sat. and 10am to 5pm Sun. Closed Mon. & Tues. in Nov.
HOURS: 9 a.m.-5 pm. Mon. thru Sat., 10 a.m.- 5 pm. Sun.. Last ticket sold at 4 p.m.

Woodlands Nature Station in LBL Eagle Tours
Few things equal the beauty of bald eagles in the wild! Winter is the peak season for catching a glimpse of bald eagles in LBL. We’ll search the winter sky and lakeshore for a look at our national symbol during this staff-led van tour to eagle viewing “hot-spots.”
Dress for the weather. Moderate walking required. Registration is limited. Reservations and full deposits required.
For registration information, call weekdays, 8 am-4:30 pm, 270-924-2020.

We really wanted to stay here a week, but due to other circumstances, could only manage a short stay. After we left, we said we probably won’t be able to return. How sad as this place was amazing and now that we have read the history, we are sorry we didn’t have access to the web to do this research while there.  Click here for  The History & Heartbreak of Between The Rivers, by David Nickells. It is both fascinating and sad. We are so glad we treated the area with respect as we wondered about their history.  In essence, after the Revolutionary War, veterans were given plats of land as payment for their services. Because the only access to the peninsula at the time was by ferry, a unique community was developed and lasted for six generations. And as you guessed, eminent domain took over and more than 800 families were forcibly removed. It was not easy to leave their family cemeteries behind….

“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’….” Joshua 4:6

18 thoughts on “Land Between the Lakes, Cadiz, Kentucky

  1. So glad you enjoyed your stay at LBL even though it was a short stay. There is a lot interesting history around there. We camped at Hillman Ferry in 2007 on the second night of a three month trip. We snagged a site in section T at the last minute. The campground was full and we didn’t get to do anything except sit by the camp fire. Our travels have taken us near there a few times and we camped at Canal Campground, a beautiful Corps of Engineers Park a couple of times. One time we visited the Bison Prairie and we have done the scenic drive a couple of times.

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    • I’m thinking we might be by the area again, but Bill said he wouldn’t make a special trip. But I think after he sees all we missed in this post, he may reconsider! He usually reads these before I post them but we’re having some minor car trouble so his thoughts are on that. We’re scheduled to leave tomorrow!
      The Ranger volunteers said paying to see the Bison and Elk is risky, many don’t see them. But if we just went to the prairie, we probably would see some. We just had driving the car fatigue and only wanted to go where we could walk! LOL

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  2. Sometimes the lack of cell service is a pain. John just purchased another much stronger booster so we can get cell service and use our computers. It so much stronger than our older booster. Looks like you got in a couple very nice hikes. I love when water is part of the hike:)

    We just completed our sixth year on the road. We’ve never used a GPS for direction (we don’t even have one). John uses Google Earth Street view to drive our route if we are going on any secondary roads prior to our departure. You can actually drive the real road and see how the conditioners are. You can also see all the landmarks near your turns so you know exactly what to look for. It has been so extremely helpful when getting to many parks and saved us from much frustration. I use Google maps as we travel on my phone if we need to check something. Our cell phone is our only GPS. Have you ever used Google Earth Street view prior to a move? I’ve turned several people on to it. a necessary tool with a big rig and tow:)

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    • Wow, we never thought of using Google Earth! Great idea. We need to do something. Bill has always had what I call an internal GPS. He’d look at a map and he’d know exactly what to do to get places. But driving the rig has made him want the extra assist. I do use my iPhone with WAZE navigation as a back up and I can easily look ahead.
      We’re discovering as we age, things like that just don’t work as well. So sadly, we’re becoming dependent on it….but i think we’ll start trying the Google Earth.
      What booster do you have? I’ve looked at Cherie and Chris’s “RV Mobile Internet Resource Center” @ https://www.rvmobileinternet.com. It’s all too advanced for us. We just need help getting places and learning about what to see and do!

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      • I know exactly how you feel. John has that internal GPS but when we first started fulltiming, we were towing a large dolly with our motorcycle and car. If we ever got caught and had to back up, we were in trouble because it meant removing everything which took time with having to set up the ramps for the bike then the car. So John was OVER prepared for each move. He was thrilled when he discovered Google Street view. I don’t know if you have ever seen the Google car driving around recording the roads!? But Google has driven almost every road in this country and Canada. In fact, they have even driven into many of the campgrounds. So when you use the Street View, you are actually driving the real road. It is a life saver! I turned Jodee on it after they had an almost mishap when they started. John has shared it with tons of RVers. When you go to Google Maps, there is a little man icon. Click and drag that man to the point on the map where you want to start driving. The map becomes road level and then you scroll along the road. You can see all the landmarks along the way. We’ve used it to locate hard to find stores or restaurants and check out bike paths. It has been a lifesaver driving this huge monster towing a car. Check it out:)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Never thought about using it to check out parks! We’ve looked at all the houses we used to live in. And once when we rented a cottage on the beach. Now to get the booster as we’re in a state park with one bar on 3 G!

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      • I forgot to mention our booster(s). We just purchased a newer booster model… WeBoost RV 4G. We previously had a basic booster using the Wilson Truck antenna. This new booster is the latest and greatest and is suppose to be much more powerful. It does seem to be much better, but we are in area where have pretty good signal so we’ll have to wait to see. Our original booster that we were using in Torrey, Utah (Capitol Reef NP) where there was no Verizon signal did get us decent extended network signal. John decided he needed to upgrade. The upgrade isn’t cheap!

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      • We’ve got to get it!

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  3. My husband and I love to travel and we travel often. I am leaving for vacation tonight. We are going to Australia.
    Congratulations on being Danny Ray’s featured blogger. I was his featured blogger too! Maybe you can check out my blog if you need a blogging tip or two. That’s what I write about.
    Janice

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] We are going to travel west to east through Kentucky on our way back to Virginia. We did stop in Land between the Lakes, a national recreation park on our way to […]

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  5. […] it or not, we are back in the Land Between the Lakes area! That means we were able to do the things we didn’t have time to do when we stayed in […]

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  6. […] really liked Land Between the Lakes (LBL) the first time we camped at its Hillman Ferry Campground (HFC). When we left, we said we wouldn’t go out of our way to return….Who knew […]

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  7. Hi Debbie! I’m not sure why, but your posts aren’t popping up in my emails. I love checking out all the cool places you guys visit!

    We are considering taking a trip to Colorado with our tent trailer next summer! Do you have any cool places you recommend in CO?

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  8. […] Kentucky! We had a rocky start when we first arrived in the Land Between the Lakes in late May.  Click here if you missed that post. We hoped our difficulty was not a sign of things to come while in […]

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  9. […] next stop was our introduction to Kentucky, click on this link, Land Between the Lakes. We had read about this RV park in another full time RV travel blog. They stayed in a different […]

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  10. […] to reflect back on what an ideal summer we had in Kentucky! (If you missed the posts, start reading here or just for our recap, read about it here.) A well needed action-packed summer full of lots of […]

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