If an up-close wildlife experience sounds fun, then plan to add a visit to the Elk and Bison Prairie on your agenda while visiting the Land Between the Lakes Recreational Area in Kentucky. The Elk and Bison Prairie is a 700-acre wildlife enclosure where elk and bison roam free. Guests can get a close-up look at elk, bison, wild turkey, small game, and many other prairie animals you may not see from a boat on the lake. This wildlife adventure is accessible from your enclosed vehicle. Simply slowly drive through the 3.5-mile looped road and you’ll likely see at least an elk, bison or two on your journey. If you go at the right time of day, you may see a whole heard!
Admission to the Elk and Bison Prairie
There is a small fee of $5 per automobile which can be paid in cash or via debit/credit card at the kiosk at entry. Keep in mind, for your safety, your vehicle must be enclosed; no pedestrians, bicycles, or motorcycles allowed.
Bulk tickets are also available at any day-use facility, Welcome Stations, and the Golden Pond Visitor Center (3 entry cards $10; 5 entry cards $15; commercial busses/vans $0.50 per person).
The Best Time of Year to Visit the Elk and Bison Prairie
In general, the Elk and Bison Prairie is open year-round and can be enjoyed during any season. The winter months are best for viewing smaller animals as the grass is low and the elk and bison have their full winter coats.
Spring gives way to the new life at the Elk and Bison Prairie. The elk and bison shed their winter coats and seek out trees, rubs, and rocks for a good scratch to help the shedding process. In late May and early June, calves are born on the prairie. They may be more difficult to see while small as Mamma Bison keep their calves well hidden; however, as they get older, they mingle with the heard. That said, still, be cautious of them. We’ve heard stories of guests whom cars were rushed by bigger bison because they lingered too long taking pictures of the younger bison near the road. Remember, they’re wild animals and will rely on their instincts to protect their young.
Summer is the prime growing season for calves, grasses, and prairie flowers. On hot days, you can find the elk and bison relaxing under shade trees or going for a swim in a pond.
Late summer into fall the prairie is bursting with flowers and the elk and bison who are eager to mate. You might pay particular attention to tree trunks or stumps that have been used for polishing antlers, or the listening to the Bison mating call which sounds more like a growl or a deep purr (sort of like Chewbacca from Star Wars). Take extra caution between July through September as the male bison (bulls) can be more aggressive.
It is important to mention that as the weather begins to cool down, snakes seek warmer temperatures by venturing to the blacktop road. The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Center asks that you do not harass or run over snakes, as they are very important to the Prairie ecosystem.
Best Time of Day to Go and What to Bring
For the best viewing opportunities, it is best to go directly after sunrise and just before sunset when the elk and bison are feeding in the flatter prairie areas near the roads. We also suggest bringing binoculars to help you spot animals far in the distance.
- The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area has put together a few more wildlife viewing tips that can be found here (https://www.landbetweenthelakes.us/stewardship/wildlife-watching-tips/)
- Access the Elk and Bison Prairie Facts sheet here (https://www.landbetweenthelakes.us/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/17_ElkBisonFactSheet_WEB.pdf)
Directions from America’s Paradise Resort
- Head Southwest on Paradise Drive toward State Highway 972
- Take State Highway 732, Liberty Rd, KY-94 E, and KY-80 E to Elk & Bison Prairie Rd/Forest Service Rd 100-H in Trigg County
- Turn right onto Elk and Bison Prairie Rd/Forest Service Rd 100-H
- Destination will be on the left
Link to google maps:
Reminder: Before you grab your binoculars and cameras, use the link below to book your stay with us!