Reelfoot Lake, located in northwestern Tennessee near the Mississippi River, is a 15,000 acre lake that was formed by the 1811-12 earthquakes on the New Madrid fault-line. This shallow lake, averaging less than five feet, is swamp-like with cypress trees submerged in many areas of the lake. A region once mapped by Daniel Boone, one that previously housed the only commerical crappie fishing operation in the world, Reelfoot Lake has long been known as an outdoor recreation destination. This is what attracted us and the pursuit of spotting eagles.
Reelfoot Lake has both the Reelfoot Lake State Park and the Reelfoot Lake National Wildlife Refuge along its banks. We previously planned to visit in late fall, during the Pelican Festival, hosted by the state park, but other obligations prevented us from camping. Luckily, we were able to change our reservation to late winter for the Eagle Festival..
During our visit, the campground was partially flooded. We were still able to get a waterfront sight, overlooking the water flanked with massive cypress trees. We had a view of an eagle’s nest on top of a dead tree in the lake. The view was the best part of the campground. The bathhouse was large, clean, and heated. We had a fire pit, picnic table, and a large site. We had site 19 and our pad was oddly positioned. We arrived after dark to find our site was on a dead end and angled the wrong direction. We had to jackknife the trailer and drive off the road to maneuver the Mantis into place. We pulled it off, but this could have been a challenge with a larger rig.
We attended the Eagle Festival. The highlight of this event was Live Birds of Prey Programs with the Stokes. This was an indoor show and they flew a vulture, hawk, and two different owls over the audience. The show alone was worth the trip.
Saturday afternoon the sky cleared and we headed out on a self guided eagle tour with a map provided by the Wildlife Refuge visitor center. This winter has been warm and wet, so the birds that typically overtake Reelfoot in the winter were greatly reduced this year. We did spot several bald eagles that are likely resident eagles and not migratory. Either way, it is always fun to spot a bald eagle!
Stay tuned for our next post, another great Tennessee destination, but this time with tow vehicle drama.
Shane and Jessica
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