Laurel River Lake, Kentucky, USA

Welcome to the ultimate guide to Laurel River Lake — things to do, where to stay, fun facts, history, stats and more. Let’s dive in!

Topics we cover in this article:

Looking for Laurel River Lake cabins or other accommodations? Save time and use this interactive map to find, compare and book at the best rates. Or explore our comprehensive list of favorite travel partners.

All About Laurel River Lake

Laurel River Lake was created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1974 to provide flood control and hydroelectric power to its neighboring areas, but has also become a sought-after vacation destination. Sharing shoreline with the state’s Daniel Boone National Forest, the lake straddles Laurel and Whitney counties in southeastern Kentucky, stretching out over 5,600 acres with 192 miles of shoreline.

Laurel River Lake is a deep water lake over 19 miles in length. Its maximum depth is 280 feet at the dam, with an average depth of 65 feet. Normal summer pool elevation is 1015 feet above sea level. The Army Corps of Engineers reduces the lake level in winter to prevent flooding in the spring. The average winter pool elevation is 982 feet above sea level.

Laurel River Lake boasts an unparalleled natural beauty, and one of its most unique draws is its cliff-lined shores. Steep, jagged rocks seemingly disappear into the lake’s clear depths, providing picture-perfect photo ops and scenery you’ll never forget. Of course, one of the best ways to see the cliffs is by boat, and you’ll have access to the waters from any of the lake’s eight boat launch ramps.

Boating takes on a life of its own here and is one of the premier ways to catch sight of the lake’s varied wildlife. The lake is home to wintering bald eagles; Canada geese are year-round residents. White-tailed dear stop by the shoreline for a drink of clean lake water, and painted turtles make their way through the trees. Head away from the shores and give the engine a little juice to enjoy the lake at a higher speed.

Laurel River Lake provides excellent fishing for black bass, smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, walleye, crappie, bluegill, and catfish. The lake is known as the “rainbow trout mecca” in Kentucky. Winter months produce rainbow trout catches of four to six pounds.

Swimming is a favorite pastime at the reservoir, and sunbathers are invited to spread their towel on the sands of the public-access beach. Swimmers often choose to don scuba gear to take advantage of the clear waters and high visibility to investigate the lake’s submerged rock formations. And when everyone gets a bit hungry, you know it’s time to head to the nearby picnic tables before heading back out for more swimming, splashing, and floating.

Nature lovers feel right at home here, as the lake enjoys a prime location inside the Daniel Boone National Forest. Over 94 miles of trails meander through forest, perch atop cliffs, and drop hikers off at secluded campsites. Taking one of these trails is like being sent back to at time when Kentucky was an unexplored frontier, home to pine trees and animals that had never seen a human face.

Laurel River Lake is a place to escape and enjoy the beauty and bounty of nature. Complete your fun-packed day by watching a painted sunset reflecting off the waters.

Things to Do at Laurel River Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Beach
  • Scuba Diving
  • Camping
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Forest

Fish Species Found at Laurel River Lake

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Perch
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Trout
  • Walleye

Find Places to Stay at Laurel River Lake

If you’re considering a Laurel River Lake lake house rental or hotel, we’ve made it super easy to find the best rates and compare vacation accommodations at a glance. Save time using this interactive map below.

Recommended Sites to Book a Laurel River Lake Vacation

If you want to take a deeper dive to find waterfront lake cabins, cottages, condos, hotels or resorts, check out our favorite Laurel River Lake lodging partners.

  • VRBO – Use VRBO to find the perfect lake rental home, condo, cabin, cottage or other vacation property.
  • – One of the world’s leading digital travel companies, connects travelers to everything from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts.
  • Expedia – Expedia is a popular online travel agency with more than 140,000 lodging properties worldwide.
  • – With more than 325,000 hotels in 19,000-plus locations, is an industry leader in online accommodations.
  • TripAdvisor – Read traveler reviews and compare prices on hotels, vacation rentals and more at TripAdvisor.
  • Trivago – Trivago helps travelers compare deals for hotels and other accommodations from a variety of booking sites.
  • KAYAK – KAYAK scours hundreds of other travel websites at once to find the best deals on hotels and other travel-related services.
  • RVshare –RVshare connects travelers interested in renting a motorhome with owners who have RVs to rent.
  • CampSpot – Campspot offers premier RV resorts, family campgrounds, cabins and glamping options across North America.

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.

Laurel River Lake Statistics & Helpful Links


Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 5,600 acres

Shoreline Length: 192 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,012 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 982 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,018 feet

Average Depth: 85 feet

Maximum Depth: 280 feet

Water Volume: 435,000 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1974

Drainage Area: 282 sq. miles

We strive to keep the information on LakeLubbers as accurate as possible. However, if you’ve found something in this article that needs updating, we’d certainly love to hear from you! Please fill out our Content Correction form.

Shop Laurel River Lake Gifts

Custom Lake Tumblers

Captain / First Mate Custom 20 oz Tumbler

Custom Lake T Shirt

Personalized My Boat My Rules Unisex T-Shirt

Custom Lake Coffee Mug - On Lake Time

On Lake Time Custom Coffee Mug – 11oz or 15oz


Advertise Your Laurel River Lake Business or Vacation Rental

LakeLubbers will soon offer businesses the opportunity to advertise and homeowners and property managers the ability to showcase their vacation rentals to the thousands of lake lovers searching our site daily. If you would like additional details, please contact our advertising team.


Looking for the Laurel River Lake Forum?

LakeLubbers previously offered visitors the ability to create accounts and participate in lake forums. When we overhauled the site’s content management system in 2021 we had to disable those features. We’re evaluating options and welcome your comments and feedback here. We also encourage you to join our lake-lovin’ community on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Laurel River Lake Photo Gallery

New photos coming soon!

Spread the word! Share our Laurel River Lake article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!