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Kentucky’s Beautiful State Resort Parks Are Worth Exploring

If you haven’t visited one of Kentucky’s state resort parks, you’re missing out. It’s hard to beat outdoor adventures with luxury accommodations.

While these nature preserves have all the perks of a regular state park, they also come with bonus features you won’t find at standard facilities. They provide top-notch accommodations and fun for the whole family.

If you want to start planning your own state resort park trip, you’re in the right place.

Let’s get into it!

Smiling young man with fishing rod by the river. Fishing is popular at many of Kentucky's state resort parks.
Fishing is popular at many of Kentucky’s state resort parks

What Are Kentucky State Resort Parks?

Kentucky is home to 33 state parks. From historic sites to protected forests, no two destinations are exactly alike. These areas are perfect for classic outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and swimming. But that’s not all. Some of Kentucky’s state parks offer other experiences like golf courses, swimming pools, and horseback riding.

Kentucky’s state parks belong to two categories. Some are traditional, while others are elevated resorts. Resort parks are just like their regular counterparts, except they have onsite lodges or cabins where folks can spend the night. Many of them also have restaurants and fun things to do. Seventeen of the state’s 33 parks are considered resorts.

With a range of options, there’s sure to be one that’s perfect for your next trip! Here are five of the best state resort parks in Kentucky.

#1 Natural Bridge State Resort Park

Natural Bridge State Resort Park sits in Slade, Kentucky, about 58 miles southeast of Lexington. The 2,300-acre preserve is in the Daniel Boone National Forest. It’s a gorgeous setting for adventure and relaxation alike.

Hike one of the park’s ten trails, which range from a short half-mile stroll to over seven miles. Mill Creek Lake is the perfect spot to fish or go canoeing. But if you prefer a more laid-back experience, you can play mini golf or relax in the onsite swimming pool. You could even take the Sky Lift, a repurposed ski lift, for a unique view of the natural sandstone bridge.

For a truly relaxing venture, visitors to Natural Bridge State Resort Park can stay at the Hemlock Lodge. Each of its 35 rooms has a private patio to take in the natural scenery. But Natural Bridge offers RV campsites with full hookups. You can enjoy their WiFi, laundry facilities, and showers too. And don’t forget your furry friends because pets are welcome here!

Discover The Best Red River Gorge Camping.

#2 Breaks Interstate Park

For a peaceful getaway, plan a visit to Breaks Interstate Park. This resort park straddles the state line between Kentucky and Virginia. And it’s right in the middle of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains.

One of its main attractions is Breaks Canyon, a five-mile-long gorge over 1,600 feet deep. You can bike or hike there using one of many trails. You can go fishing at Laurel Lake or rent a kayak or pedal boat to get out on the water.

Because it’s a resort, Breaks Interstate offers more than traditional outdoor activities. Mix it up by playing golf, enjoying seasonal events at the outdoor amphitheater, or cooling off at the waterpark.

The Breaks Interstate Lodge has 70 rooms with TVs, mini-fridges, and gorgeous nature views. However, the campgrounds are also open to RVers, featuring spots with full hookups. You’ll find a general store, basketball court, playground, and laundry facilities nearby.

#3 Carter Caves State Resort Park

Carter Caves State Resort Park is a one-of-a-kind place. This Kentucky gem is full of caves, waterfalls, and actual gemstones! Even more, it’s just an hour and a half from Lexington and two hours from Cincinnati.

Jump on a cave tour and explore the park’s many underground wonders. And you don’t need to worry about gear. They provide coveralls, knee pads, headlamps, and helmets.

Afterward, stop by the gem mine, where you can rinse your rocks to reveal colorful crystals. There are tons of opportunities for bird-watching and hiking. Additionally, Smoky Valley Lake is a nice spot for fishing.

Carter Caves is a great way to spend the day. Play a few rounds of mini golf or join a guided paddle board tour of the lake. Additionally, experienced rappellers and rock climbers can explore the park’s rock faces and ridges.

After a long day of adventure, enjoy dinner at Tierney’s Cavern Restaurant or book a room at the Lewis Caveland Lodge. Carter Caves also offers RV campsites with electricity, water, and sewer connections. You’ll find WiFi, showers, laundry, and a self-serve RV wash. RVers can enjoy the swimming pool, playground, and archery range.

The waterfall at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park on the Cumberland River in Kentucky
The waterfall at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park on the Cumberland River in Kentucky

#4 Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is one of Kentucky’s most scenic spots. Located less than two hours south of Lexington, this park’s namesake is a 68-foot-tall waterfall. Lucky visitors can see the “moonbow,” a nighttime rainbow formed by droplets from the falls.

The park sits on the Cumberland River, making it a great place to fish. You can enjoy some quiet bird-watching time or explore 17 total miles of hiking trails. Cumberland Falls also has a gemstone flume where visitors can discover pyrite, quartz, and rare stones.

During your visit, take advantage of the park’s resort-style features. Try a guided horseback ride along one of the wooded trails. Have a picnic or grill some food at a public pavilion near the campgrounds. You can hang out by the swimming pool, which stays open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

The DuPont Lodge offers in-room stone fireplaces and private patios with nature views. But Cumberland Falls has great RV campsites with full and partial hookups. Showers and laundry facilities are available, and campers can enjoy a playground, lawn games, and an archery range.

This is a lot of driving around Kentucky! How Many Miles Should Your Tires Last?

#5 Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park

You can’t go wrong with a peaceful trip to Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park. This preserve sits right at the southern border of Kentucky, just one hour and 45 minutes southeast of Lexington. It’s also easily accessible from major Tennessee cities like Nashville and Knoxville.

Fishing at Dale Hollow Lake is an unforgettable experience. You’ll find trout, crappie, bream, and five bass species! If you prefer an underground adventure, take a guided tour of Cindy Cave to see the bats. The park is one of the best spots in the country for birding. In fact, you might even catch sight of an eagle.

Of course, Dale Hollow Lake offers tons of other activities. Shoot some hoops at the basketball court, go horseback riding on the trails, or take your motorcycle for a spin along the scenic Cumberland Valley. There’s an 18-hole golf course and miniature golf courses for the kids.

Enjoy a tasty meal at the Island View Restaurant, which really does overlook an island! You can book a room at the Mary Ray Oaken Lodge and savor the views from your private balcony. Or get a great rate on an RV campsite with full or partial hookups. RVers have access to onsite showers and laundry facilities as well as amenities like the park swimming pool and playground.

Plan your trip with the Kentucky Bucket List Adventure Guide.

Live It Up Down South!

Visiting a state park is a great way to enjoy some of the country’s best natural wonders. And checking out a resort park is an easy way to add some luxury to the experience. We can’t think of anything better than a day of hiking and caving, cooling off with a swim, and then settling into luxurious accommodations.

Kentucky’s state resort parks are some of the hottest spots in the South. So pack your bags, load up your rig, and prepare for an adventure unlike any other!

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