Visiting one of Kentucky's many state parks is a perfect way to spend family time surrounded by nature's beauty. Travelers of all ages will find something to admire and enjoy in the Bluegrass State. Many of the parks feature watersports, historic sites, and just about anything else you could wish for in a family vacation.
You might be surprised to know that present day Kentucky was once home to ancient creatures now extinct. Kids are always curious about giant creatures from the distant past. At this state historic site, fossils from the Pleistocene Epoch are on display at the museum, including giant mastodons, wooly mammoths, and ground sloths.
Share a slice of American history with your family at Lincoln Homestead State Park. See the home of the beloved 16th president's mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln. There you'll find replicas of the 1782 cabin and blacksmith shop where his father grew up and learned his trade. A golf course is located nearby among the beautiful rolling hills.
The geography of Kentucky features a large system of caves, including the famous Mammoth Cave. Mammoth Cave is now designated a National Park. Perhaps lesser known but equally fascinating is Lost River Cave near the town of Bowling Green. Take an underground boat tour on the river, and listen to your guide regale you and your family with information about the cave formation and local folklore.
For those who are happiest on the trail, check out the many hiking experiences available in Kentucky's state parks. Bring your hiking boots and your backpack and set out for an invigorating hike through the pine forests and rolling hills of this beautiful natural environment.
Called "the Niagra of the South," Cumberland Falls features a famous seven-storey waterfall. At the full moon, the moonlight creates a breathtaking rainbow on the water at night. This scenic area offers seventeen miles of hiking trails, including the 10.8 mile Moonbow Trail, starting at the falls and ending at the mouth of the Laurel River.
This beautiful Kentucky State Park near Pineville is the host for an annual Hike-A-Thon. Hiking enthusiasts take part in a series of planned hiking experiences, all within 70 miles of the park property. If you decide to join in, lunch arrangements are available for longer hikes. The short trail passing the famous Chained Rock features a spectacular view of the entire town of Pineville, plus the skyline of Cumberland Mountain twelve miles to the south.
Combine water sports with hiking adventures at Nolin Lake, offering planned specialty hikes in additional to traditional hiking experiences. One hike focuses on identifying the native tree species, while another guides you through the seasonal wildflowers that grace the Kentucky springtime. Look for violets, larkspur, and jack-in-the-pulpit.
Kentucky's state parks offer exciting options for outdoor activities for the adventurous traveler. Whether you're looking for cycling trails, caves to explore, or spending time on the water, you can find something to make your Kentucky getaway memorable.
A unique natural sandstone arch spanning 78 feet in length and 65 feet in height is the landmark of this park. Dogs permitted on Henson Arch Trail and Whittleton Trail. Nearby is the Red River Gorge Ripline attraction for adventure seeking vacationers. For a unique experience in cave kayaking, check out Thrillsville Adventure Park.
Carter Caves is located in northeast Kentucky, in the heart of cave country. Explore the many caves, including Bat and Cascade Cave. Or seek your adventure above ground, rappelling, or rock climbing. The many scenic trails are open for horseback riders and cyclists.
For boating and other watersports, Barren River Lake is the perfect location. Located near Lucas, Kentucky, this resort has accommodations including a newly created sand beach, a pool, tennis courts, and horseback riding. Barren River is a 10,000-acre man-made lake surrounded by tranquil rolling hills.