One of the best ways to experience Reelfoot Lake is by boat. The lake is a flooded forest and is shallow with lots of submerged stumps and standing trees. Boaters have to navigate slowly and cautiously. As such there are few large boats on the lake which makes it a nice place for canoes, kayaks and jon boats when the winds are calm. Boats may be rented from local private businesses. The park has five public boat launch ramps to accommodate fishing boats and small pontoon boats. The park offers a variety of canoe and pontoon boat tours throughout the year.
While Reelfoot Lake is known for its eagles and Eagle Festival, White Pelicans also make the park home during their annual fall migration. A variety of other birds can be seen from the visitor center, including Prothonotary Warblers, Double-crested Cormorants, Wood Ducks and various wading birds. To the west, Keystone Trail offers similar viewing, with abundant Goldfinches and migratory warblers attracted to thick, second-growth woods. From the shore, American Coots and White Pelicans can be seen in large numbers in this section of the lake. To the east on State Highway 21 at the new spillway is a pull-off on the south side from where an eagle nest is readily visible.
Reelfoot Lake offers a variety of birding canoe floats and boat tours throughout the year. For more information or to make a reservation please call the visitor center at 731-253-9652.
January and February - Eagle Tours: Join experienced park naturalists on daily, bald eagle and waterfowl bus or van tours. During the two hour tours, eagles can be seen perching, flying or soaring and snatching a fish from the lake. Telescopes for viewing and information about the natural and cultural history of the wildlife and area are provided. Bald Eagle and Waterfowl Tours are $5 per person and reservations are required.
February 5, 6 & 7, 2016: This family-friendly festival features eagle tours and a variety of interpretive programs.
March and April - Deep Swamp Canoe Tours: Join park naturalists for a canoe trip into the old growth Cypress forest of Reelfoot Lake. The canoes glide around huge cypress trees and a variety of birds are usually seen, including nesting eagles. The old Cypress forest is one of the most unique areas of Reelfoot Lake, a place very few people have visited. Guided trips are offered during the weekends, and reservations are required. The tours are $10 per person and are not offered if lake levels become too low.
May through end of September – Scenic Pontoon Boat Tours: Learn about the history and wonders of Reelfoot Lake on these popular tours. In addition to seeing a variety of flowers along the shore and the lake’s beautiful water lilies, many birds can be seen including Great Blue Herons, ducks and the occasional eagle soaring above. The interpretive cruises depart daily from the visitor center, weather permitting. A stop on historic Caney Island Indian Mound provides picnic tables and primitive restrooms. The tour is approximately three hours long. For groups of 10 or more, special afternoon cruises may be planned, Monday through Friday. Short, one-hour cruises are offered on weekends at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. CT. Short cruises are $6 per person/all ages; Long cruises are $10 per person, ages 16 and older and $6 for those under 16 years. Reservations are required.
July - Lily Pad Canoe Tours: Canoeing through a bed of lily pads and seeing the beautiful flowering American Lotus, Spatter Doc, Duck weed and Cypress Trees. Hearing a chorus of tree frogs on our Sunset tours or finding one on the Cut Grass during the day. These are just a few things you will see as you pass through the placid waters of Reelfoot Lakes shorelines and historic river channels. A trip you will not soon forget. Offered several times each month. Call for more information and to register.
October 16, 17 & 18, 2015 - Pelican Festival: The annual Reelfoot Lake Pelican Festival features three days of family-friendly fun. Get up close to these magnificent birds on our pelican canoe floats and don't forget your camera! In addition to the canoe tours, pelican pontoon boat tours, wildlife photography programs and other activities are planned. Visit our events page to learn more.
Tennessee’s only natural lake is nationally known for crappie and Bluegill fishing. Fishing is best for these panfish in April and May. Experienced anglers can hook these as well as bass and catfish throughout the year. Fishing is productive by boat and from the bank, pier and boardwalk. A special lake permit is required. The park has five public boat launch ramps to accommodate fishing boats and small pontoon boats. Fish cleaning stations are located throughout the park. Bait, tackle, snacks and fishing licenses are for sale at nearby locations. Many guides are available locally.
Campgroud Trail — 0.5 Miles — Natural — Easy
Keystone Trail — 1.5 Miles — Natural — Easy
Black Bayou Trail — 2.0 Miles — Natural — Easy
Airpark Trail — 1.5 Miles — Natural — Easy
Visitor Center Boardwalk — 0.5 Miles — Boardwalk — Easy