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Plan Your Visit to Reelfoot Lake State Park

November 29, 2018  |  Permalink

Reelfoot Lake is located in the northwest corner of Tennessee. The 15,000-acre lake is unlike any other place in Tennessee because it is essentially a flooded forest. A series of violent earthquakes in the early 1800s caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards for a short period of time, creating what we now know as Reelfoot Lake. It is known for an abundance of cypress trees, variety of aquatic plants and flowers, and presence of almost every kind of wading and shore bird at some point during the year.

Here is what to do and where to stay to make the most of your next trip to Reelfoot Lake State Park:


1. Watch the eagles take flight

Reelfoot Lake State Park is one of the best places in the mid south to find American bald eagles. While you can enjoy bald eagles year round, the best time to see the highest volume is in the winter. The park hosts the annual Eagle Festival in January and offers guided bus tours throughout January and February to help visitors find and enjoy these birds.

In addition to bald eagles, the park is home to heron, ducks, and other waterfowl. It is also a popular destination for migratory birds. White pelicans make a stop at the park. The park is home to a Pelican Festival in October and offers pontoon tours to see these beautiful birds out on the water. Migratory eagles and ducks start appearing at the lake in November and December.

2. Explore the deep swamp

One of the most unique experiences in West Tennessee is paddling through seldom explored areas of Reelfoot Lake. The park offers deep swamp canoe floats on the weekends in March and April that lead paddlers to an old growth cypress forest, a heron rookery and an eagle nest. The floats are led by the park’s experienced naturalist and are sure to lead to sightings of songbirds, ducks, herons, owls, or an eagle. 

3. Cast a line

Fishing is one of the most popular attractions on the lake. Reelfoot Lake is Tennessee’s only naturally-occurring lake and is well-known for crappie and bluegill fishing. April and May are prime months for these panfish, but experienced anglers can have success between March and October. 

4. Cruise on the lake

Park staff offer a variety of guided pontoon tours throughout the year focusing on different aspects of the lake. The normal tours focus on the lake’s natural beauty and resident animals, with seasonal trips focusing on archaeology, fall colors, and migratory birds. Come catch a sunset on the water or enjoy the changing seasons at Reelfoot Lake. 

5. Develop your creative eye

The park is a haven for photography. The natural beauty alone is enough to capture a photographer’s heart. Cypress trees rising out of the water offer a unique backdrop in every season. The lake is also one of the best places to visit if you enjoy photographing birds and wildlife. Over 200 species of birds have been reported from the area. Come test your skills on osprey, pelicans, eagles, ducks, great blue heron, and more. 



Where to Stay

The park features two year-round campgrounds for RV, tent and primitive campers. Yet, the crown jewels are the seven lakeside cabins that offer first-class comfort and modern convenience. These pet-friendly accommodations have fantastic views and can sleep 6-10 people. 


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Tennessee State Parks