Barren River Lake, Kentucky, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide for history, statistics, local fun facts and the best things to do at Barren River Lake.

If you’re considering Barren River Lake vacation rentals, we’ve made it super easy to explore accommodations and nearby hotels using the interactive map below. Simply click on a listing to compare similar properties, best rates and availability for your dates. Or keep scrolling to read our Barren River Lake guide!

Barren River Lake visitor and community guide

Barren River Lake, located in south-central Kentucky, is one of the state’s hidden jewels, covering over 10,100 acres. The lake was created by the Louisville Army Corps of Engineers; construction was completed in 1964. In 1965, Barren County began purchasing lakeside land, creating Barren River Lake State Resort Park, a vacation destination for water lovers all over the country.

Located in the famous Kentucky Caves region, Barren River Lake is only half an hour’s drive from the world’s longest cave system within Mammoth Cave National Park. Many lake visitors plan to take advantage of the many activities afforded by the lake’s geographic location, such as cave appreciation weekends, park-sponsored hiking trips, Wild Cave Days and more.

Do-it-yourself nature lovers will feel as welcome here as those who like to go on guided tours. Hiking trails dot Barren River Lake’s shores, providing paths of varying difficulty, all of which will take you on winding tours around the lake. Catch glimpses of grazing deer, visit old historical buildings, stand in awe at beautiful lake vistas stretching out before you, and simply enjoy a pristine Kentucky afternoon. Visitors with an equestrian streak will also find themselves entertained at Barren River Lake, with its miles of horse trails and riding stables able to provide guided trails and horse rentals.

The Barren River Lake State Park also offers two geocaches, Life’s a Beech and Lean 2 Knots, and whether you’re just a beginner or an avid hobbyist, you’ll love searching for treasure under the wide blue sky. When you’ve filled your pockets with all the goodies you can find, head over to the lake’s beautiful sand beach where you can catch some golden rays, have a picnic, and frolic in the cool, clean lake waters.

If fishing is your pleasure, Barren River Lake is here to indulge you: bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, hybrid bass, largemouth bass, rough fish, and white bass all dwell under the lake’s gentle waters. In fact, the lake is well-known as one of the top-producing largemouth bass lakes in the country. Huge catches have been made here, and a recent lake record for hybrid bass weighed in at a whopping 20.5 pounds. If you’re dreaming of such a catch, bring your rod and your patience and set out for a day of sport fishing.

Because the primary purpose of Barren River Lake is flood control, the water level is drawn down in the fall to winter pool level, allowing spring rains to fill the reservoir instead of flooding the surrounding land. The summer pool water level is 552 feet above sea level; winter pool level is lowered to 525 feet, reducing the lake’s surface acreage by 56 percent.

If sun and fun are your pleasure, book a vacation to Barren River Lake. With its varied recreational offerings and beautiful scenery, the lake is sure to please.

Custom Barren River Lake house decor

Read our full review of these personalized lake house signs.

Things to do at Barren River Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • State Park
  • National Park

Fish species found at Barren River Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • White Bass

Best hotels and vacation rentals at Barren River Lake

The Barren River Lake map shown above is a simple and stress-free way to search for trip accommodations. But if you want to take a deeper dive to find the ideal waterfront home, cabin, condo, hotel or resort, visit our favorite lodging partners by clicking the buttons below.

Note: These are affiliate links so we may earn a small commission if you book through them. While there is no extra cost to you, it helps provide resources to keep our site running (thank you)! You can read our full disclosure policy here.

Barren River Lake photo gallery

New photos coming soon!

Barren River Lake statistics & helpful links

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