There are 49 unique and beautiful State Parks in Kentucky, each catering to a unique set of interests, but all with one thing in common; a glimpse into the stunning beauty of Kentucky. Kentucky's State Parks showcase the very best of Kentucky, from scenic shorelines to majestic mountains, and plunging caves to enchanting woodlands. No matter how many times you return to these enchanting lands, you're sure to find something new and exciting. There's no one way to pick a favorite State Park, but here are a few ideas to get you started as you plan out your adventures for 2017:
- Breaks Interstate State Park, nestled in the Appalachians of Eastern Kentucky, has more than 25 miles of hiking trails and nearly 12 miles of biking trails. The trails offer breathtaking scenery, and a range of difficulty suitable for most visitors. The park is also part of the Virginia Birding and wildlife trail, making it a wonderful place for birding. The Russell Fork river, responsible for the dramatic land formations here, is also an excellent destination for rafting.
- Carter Caves State Park is perfect for caving enthusiasts. This region has the highest concentration of caves in all of Kentucky, two of which offer guided tours year-round; Cascade Cave and X-Cave.
- Cumberland Falls State Park is one of the most visited places in Kentucky. There's no question as to why; it's stunningly beautiful. The falls, a 125-foot wide curtain of water, are known as the "Niagara of the South." At night during a full moon, you can see a moonbow, a phenomenon not found anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, and something everyone should see at least once in their lives.
- Dale Hollow Lake State Park is beautiful, and perfect for the avid fisherman. Fishing is open year-round, and biting daily are Crappie, bream, muskie, walleye, trout, catfish, and five species of bass–largemouth, smallmouth, white, Kentucky, and rock. There's no wonder Dale Hollow Lake has earned recognition as a top fishing spot in the country, let alone the state.
- The John James Audubon State Park is a natural wonder to behold. There is spectacular birding here year round. During the winter, you'll find seven woodpecker species, waterfowl, sparrows, and mixed flocks, with occasional buteos, accipiters, and owls. Throughout the rest of the year, this nature preserve plays host to a variety of bird species, including warblers and other neotropical migrants. From now through summer, the most spectacular sights are the Bald Eagles and Herons that nest and raise their young in this area.
- Lake Barkley State Park, near the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, is a spectacular place for fishing, swimming, hiking, birding, and more. With 57,920-acres to its name, Lake Barkley is a year-round boating paradise. Fishermen will also enjoy angling for largemouth, white, and Kentucky bass, bluegill, channel catfish and crappie.
- Lake Cumberland State Park, an area famous for its houseboats, is one of the most popular vacation destinations in Kentucky. It's a true paradise for boating enthusiasts, and is one of the most beautiful lakes in the state.
- Natural Bridge State Park, in the Red River Gorge, is a geologic wonder just begging to be explored. The bridge itself is a sandstone rock bridge that is 65 feet in height and spans 78 feet in length, and is probably the most visited arch in the state.
- Pennyrile Forest State Park in Western Kentucky has a variety of excellent hiking and biking trails to explore, each with plenty of birding opportunities along the way.
- A popular attraction at Pine Mountain State Park is the Pine Mountain Zipline Canopy Tour, which takes 2.5 hours and includes a ride over Honeymoon Falls. Otherwise, there are a variety of beautiful hiking trails to explore.
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