The Southern Lakes route roughly follows the Kentucky - Tennessee border from west to east, passing by some of the best outdoor recreational areas in the eastern U.S.
Begin your tour at the mighty Mississippi River. Near Columbus, stop at the state park to see the massive chain and anchor used to block Union gunboat passage on the river during the Civil War.
Land Between the Lakes is a fabulous outdoor playground for unlimited outdoor fun. Developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, LBL is a 40-mile-long peninsula between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, with 300 miles of undeveloped shoreline. The Golden Pond Visitor Center has information and a great planetarium. LBL also offers lots of opportunities for mountain biking.
Rolling, tree-covered hills surround Barren River Lake. The lodges and cottages at this state resort park curve gracefully around this beautiful waterway. Nearby Dale Hollow Lake twists and turns through the Cumberland foothills. Both of these lakes offer fishing, boating and other activities at great resorts, including Lake Cumberland State Resort Park and Dale Hollow Lake State Park. Lake Cumberland is also known as one of the best striper fishing spots in the country.
The Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area is a wilderness paradise. Once heavily worked for its natural resources, the area has returned to its rugged natural beauty. Don't miss the scenic train ride to the Blue Heron Mining Community. Continue winding your way through the rugged beauty of the Daniel Boone National Forest over country once explored by Daniel Boone himself.
Another scenic spot is magnificent Cumberland Falls, the most impressive waterfall east of the Rockies, except for Niagara itself. You might want to make the state resort park here an overnight stay and hope that you'll see the magical moon bow. Continuing east, Pine Mountain State Resort Park also offers a lodge and cottages for a great place to relax and take in the lush mountain scenery.
Your tour ends at the Kentucky-Virginia border. You'll want to stop at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, a natural passage through the Appalachian Mountains used by early colonists to move west.