Obey River

Obey River watershed

About the Obey River watershed

Drainage Area

949 square miles

Notable Tributaries

  • West Fork Obey River
  • East Fork Obey River


  • Clay County, KY
  • Clay County, TN
  • Clinton County, KY
  • Cumberland County, KY
  • Cumberland County, TN
  • Fentress County, TN
  • Overton County, TN
  • Pickett County, TN
  • Putnam County, TN
  • Wayne County, KY

Like the mountainous areas of other watersheds in the region, the Appalachians in the Obey River watershed are cooler and receive slightly more rainfall than lower elevations to the west. The Obey River watershed is home to Cordell Hull and Sgt. Alvin C. York state historic parks, as well as portions of Pickett State Park and Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area.

As the Obey flows west, beyond the Cumberland Plateau, it reaches Dale Hollow Lake, a reservoir created to control flooding and provide hydropower by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dale Hollow Dam in 1943. The Obey watershed is one of the basin’s least populous, and water quality in the region benefits from the fact that nearly two-thirds of it remains forested. 

Like the other watersheds of the region, the Obey is home to a great array of plant and animal species. Here, one can spot elusive least bitterns, wading through shallow waters and swaying like reeds when predators appear. Threatened Obey crayfi sh are found in the watershed’s upper reaches and nowhere else on earth. 


Explore the Obey River watershed