Slideshow Image 1 Slideshow Image 3 Slideshow Image 4 Slideshow Image 5 Slideshow Image 6 Slideshow Image 7
The house from the outside The Rice Retreat from Lakeside
Boy in a swing On Top of the World!
Family in the water Summer Smiles
Mom and girls on tube A Watersports Paradise
Spring shot Up a Cove in the Springtime
Fall colors Beautiful Colors of Fall on Dale Hollow
Feb 2010

Dale Hollow Lake Area

Dale Hollow Lake is one of the most incredible spots on the planet! Having traveled to many places, this is still where we go for maximum relaxation. It is tucked away in a mostly undiscovered and pristine area of North-Central Tennessee and South-Central Kentucky.

It can be found on a map by looking along Interstate 40 halfway between Nashville and Knoxville, and then North on State Route 111 from Cookeville about 45 minutes. On the Kentucky side, about halfway between I-65 and I-75 roughly 30 minutes South of State Route 90. As you can see, it is not super-difficult to get to and the roads leading to Byrdstown have really improved, but neither is it in real close proximity to urban areas, which tend to spoil nice places with excessively heavy use.

The Lake Itself
Although we will highlight many things to do and see under the Activities page, the most fascinating thing about this area is the lake itself. Dale Hollow Lake is a man-made body of water created in 1943 with completion of the Cordell Hull Dam, named for the famous local statesman. The Dam lies downstream from the juncture of the Obey River and the Wolf Rivers, before they both empty into the Cumberland River about 7 miles downstream from the Dam site. It was built, and is maintained by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. Our home is very near the mouth of the Obey River and Sunset Marina, located where State Route 111 crosses the lake. The lake was originally constructed for flood control purposes, and later hydro-generators were added at the dam and it now provides electrical power to approximately 45,000 people. Probably the single-most important reason why this lake is so attractive and different is the strict shoreline management policy of the Corp.

The surface area of the lake is approximately 27,700 acres and stretches for approximately 30 miles from the Dam upstream on the Obey River side to the last commercial marina, East Port. The interesting thing is, in addition to the surface area, the Corp also owns and strictly controls another 24,842 acres surrounding the 620 miles of shoreline. What this produces is an incredibly clean, beautiful and remote setting as it keeps houses and other signs of the commercial activity of man off the water. From most places on the lake, all you see is wild nature. This management philosophy also has created incredible fish habitat. In fact, Dale Hollow Lake produced the world record smallmouth bass in July of 1955. The shoreline has sharp drop-offs, minimal obstructions, and is up to 130 feet deep in places making it a boaters dream. With the protection of surrounding mountains, there is little wind and Dale Hollow is home to some of the flattest water you will find anywhere. We encourage you to read more about the history of the dam project and also the name & origin of Dale Hollow.

Local Information
Several websites cover the area. is more specific to the Byrdstown and Pickett County area, which is where the Rice Retreat is located. A couple others which include a wider geographic area are:,

One of the things you will want to see is the schedule of events for the area. This page offers the most comprehensive we could locate and is awesome for planning your trip around specific activities of interest.

Local weather information is accessible from The Weather Channel.

Driving information to the property can be directly accessed here through MapQuest.

Commercial Marinas
If you plan to be on the water at all, you will want to know about the fifteen commercial marinas that service Dale Hollow Lake. We highly recommend Sunset Marina as your first choice for several reasons. First of all, Sunset is 4.8 miles from the home and probably less than 2 miles as a crow flies. We have watched this facility flourish over the 10 years or so we have been vacationing in the area under the management of Mr. Tom Allen. It is also blessed with excellent accessibility, as most of the other marinas are difficult to reach requiring extended drives on curvy and narrow roads. Sunset is right on State Route 111 where it crosses the lake just South of Byrdstown. The good accessibility and management apparently have attracted more business than many of the other marinas, which is evident in the superior maintenance and continual investment in upgrades you will see there. Sunset offers a full array of services. If you want to explore the lake without having to bring along your own boat, rent one from them! Pontoon boats are a great way to take several people out and can act as a “base of operations” even if you do have additional watercraft. We like to rent one with a slide for the kids and often utilize the grill on the boat to prepare meals and make a full day on the water. Sunset also has ski boats and personal watercraft for rent. The Marina store there is excellent for convenience items; everything boating related, some food and also souvenirs. The Restaurant at Sunset is one of the finest on the water and has glass windows facing west, providing incredible views of the setting sun in the evenings. In recent years, an adjacent outdoor dining area has been added. Overnight covered boat slips can be rented by the night as well as personal watercraft docking platforms. Although Tom will need to give first preference to guests staying in their cabins, additional capacity has been added and we are confident he will do everything possible to meet your needs, even during the peak season. Should you find our home more space than you require, we have previously stayed in the rustic cabins at Sunset and do recommend them. There are two alternative marinas, Star Point Marina and Eagles Cove Marina, both near our property.

Boat Sales / Service / Storage
Speaking of boating, let’s share a little information we hope you won’t need, but may be handy to know. Literally within a 4 minute drive from our property is an outstanding marine service shop, Dale Hollow Marine. They service all the major brands of marine engines and have a wide assortment of most anything you might need for the water. Also on the premises is boat storage, which is great for folks who frequent Dale Hollow Lake and want to avoid having to transport a boat each trip. And again, these folks are right around the corner from us!

Another great option is Keith Esper’s shop on Hwy 111. Keith can work on just about any marine issue period.

Keith’s Leisuretime Sports
Hwy 111 North
Byrdstown, TN

There are a variety of boat storage options in the area, including Sunset Marina.

Air Travel
Should you plan to travel by air to Dale Hollow, we suggest flying commercial into Nashville International Airport and driving about 1 hour and 45 easy minutes to Byrdstown. The airport is on the east side of Nashville with direct access to Interstate 40 thus quickly whisking you out of city traffic. This route takes you on 4-lane roads all but the last 17 miles of State Route 111 North of Livingston, which is a wide 2-lane with shoulders…truly an easy drive.

If you are traveling by private aircraft, there are also great options. The closest is Dale Hollow Regional Airport near Albany, KY. This facility can handle most single-engine and some twin-engine traffic with the longest runway reported at 3,380 feet in length. Livingston Municipal Airport is a similar option, perhaps 18 miles from us. Wayne County Airport, two miles North of Monticello, KY and about 41 miles from us, reports 4,000 feet of runway and is set up to handle light jet traffic. Obviously, verify all this information carefully prior to making your plans.

Lodging Choices
There are many different types of lodging available on Dale Hollow Lake. We have vacationed there for 15 years and have done about everything except tent camping. Our early experiences consisted of very basic and old cottages located on the premises of at least three different commercial marinas. While convenient to the water, we didn’t enjoy the congestion, noise, and lack of privacy of the commercial marina surroundings. We were also in every case, sharing a building with at least one other party, and the quality of our stay was largely determined by whom our neighbors ended up being.

We have done the houseboat route twice. Both trips were enjoyable and it is nice to wake up and jump right on a ski craft and go. The downsides are after a few days, things can become kind of smelly and cramped. You quickly get to know just how good of friends you all are while living in such close quarters. It is also inconvenient should you wish to enjoy any activities other than water related. Any need for extra supplies can be a hassle, as you generally park the houseboat in a very remote place, and the only way out is by boat.

Our best year was when we rented a private vacation residence away from, but near Sunset Marina. It was not nearly as nice as the property we now own, but we quickly decided this option was the one that best fit our taste and needs as we enjoy having different sets of family and friends stop in during our time on the lake.

Grocery Stores
B&K Bi-Rite is only four miles or so from Rice Retreat and is a great place to get grocery needs. However, depending upon which way we are traveling in from, we prefer to stop at either Food Lion in Livingston or IGA in Albany and stock up on the majority of our grocery needs simply for a stronger selection as these stores see a lot more volume of business and are better stocked. There is also a Wal-Mart Supercenter 35 miles away in Jamestown, on SR 90 in Glasgow on the way in off I-65 from the west, and another in Monticello, KY. Then we typically hit the B&K for fill-in needs we have while we are in town.

Real Estate
Be advised, if you spend time here it is likely you will fall in love with the area, and possibly follow the same route we did and end up in the market for your own place!! Should that happen, utilize our property get to know arguably the most prominent real estate expert in the area, Rhonda Elder. Her real estate practice is based in Byrdstown, and she has over 25 years of experience in the business. Having worked with a lot of real estate folks over the years (in a bunch of different places), Rhonda is simply one of the very best we have ever run into, and a bit of a refreshing surprise to find this caliber talent in such a small market.

Remember, should you decide to build a place of your own at Dale Hollow, or relocate here, consider utilizing our property as your base of operations during construction or house hunting. Discuss your interest with Rhonda well in advance to increase the chances of being able to accommodate your extended needs.

We truly hope you enjoy your stay. We ask you utilize preferably our online Guestbook on this site, or the paper one in the house. Also, should you have any questions, comments, suggestions or ideas for either the property or this website, please drop them to us at