Camping in Kentucky

      A roadmap to the best camping experiences in Kentucky.

      Your Go-To Kentucky Camping Guide

      Forget crowded beaches and fancy resorts – Kentucky’s calling outdoor lovers with a down-home charm! Enjoy campfires crackling under endless starry skies, waking up to misty mornings by a glistening lake, and exploring hidden wonders like Mammoth Cave.

      If this feels like your kind of adventure, lace up your boots, grab your gear, and get ready to experience the magic of Kentucky camping – it’s a down-home adventure you won’t forget! Don’t miss the legendary southern hospitality; friendly locals and delicious camp meals are as much a part of the experience as the stunning scenery.

      Best Places To Camp In Kentucky

      Red River Gorge Geological Area

      This geological wonderland is a climber’s paradise, featuring towering sandstone cliffs, natural arches, and hidden waterfalls. Campgrounds like Koomer Ridge and Miguel’s Pizza offer tent and RV sites nestled within the scenic landscape. Hiking trails wind through the gorge, offering breathtaking views and diverse flora and fauna. Kayaking and fishing are also popular activities on the Red River.

      Red River Gorge Geological Area Kentucky

      Mammoth Cave National Park

      Home to the world’s longest recorded cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park is a must-visit for spelunkers and nature enthusiasts alike. Campgrounds like Mammoth Cave Campground and Green River Campground provide access to various cave tours, hiking trails, and scenic overlooks. Above ground, explore the rolling hills and forests, or take a boat tour on the Green River.

      Mammoth Cave National Park Kentucky

      Dale Hollow Lake

      This sprawling lake nestled amidst the Cumberland Plateau offers pristine waters for boating, fishing, and swimming. Campgrounds like Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park and Dale Hollow Lake Marina & Resort provide various amenities and stunning lakefront views. Hiking trails wind through the surrounding hills, offering opportunities for wildlife viewing and scenic vistas.

      Dale Hollow Lake Kentucky

      Natural Bridge State Resort Park

      Named for its iconic 80-foot-high natural bridge and a stunning geological formation, campgrounds like Natural Bridge Campground and Twin Arches Campground offer a variety of amenities and access to hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks. The park also features a swimming pool, mini-golf, and skylift for additional entertainment.

      Natural Bridge State Resort Park Kentucky

      Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area

      This vast recreation area encompasses forests, lakes, and historical sites, offering something for everyone. Campgrounds like Woodlands Nature Center Campground and Piney Lake Campground provide access to boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, biking, and horseback riding.

      Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area Kentucky

      Things To Do In Kentucky

      Mammoth Cave National Park

      Mammoth Cave, nestled within the rolling hills of south-central Kentucky, is not just a cave; it's a sprawling underground world. With over 400 miles of explored passages, it holds the title of the world's longest-recorded cave system. Guided tours lead you through various levels, unveiling hidden chambers adorned with glistening formations and echoing with the whispers of ancient water.

      Kentucky's Bourbon Trail

      Kentucky and bourbon are practically synonymous. This unique American spirit, aged in oak barrels and boasting complex flavors, has become a cultural touchstone. Embark on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, a passport to over 40 distilleries scattered across the state. Each distillery offers a unique experience, from tours that unveil the secrets of bourbon-making to tastings that tantalize your palate with signature blends.

      Kentucky Derby

      Every first Saturday in May, the eyes of the sporting world turn to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, for the Kentucky Derby. Witness the electrifying spectacle of thoroughbreds thundering down the historic racetrack, cheered on by enthusiastic crowds adorned in their finest Derby attire. The energy is palpable, the competition fierce, and the mint juleps flow freely.

      Louisville Mega Cavern

      Calling all spelunkers and thrill-seekers! Embark on unique adventures within this massive cave system, from ziplining through vast caverns to rappelling down underground walls.

      Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave

      Venture beyond the iconic Mammoth Cave and discover the Hidden River Cave in Horse Cave. This privately owned wonder showcases stunning formations untouched by mass tourism. Embark on a guided boat tour through an underground river, marveling at towering stalagmites and glistening flowstone formations. Feel the cool mist as you navigate hidden chambers and witness the captivating interplay of light and water.

      Berea and the Kentucky Artisan Center

      Experience the heart of Kentucky's rich cultural heritage in Berea. Visit the Kentucky Artisan Center, showcasing the finest works of over 800 Kentucky artisans. Watch live demonstrations of traditional crafts like weaving, pottery, and wood carving, and discover unique handcrafted souvenirs. Afterward, stroll through the historic downtown, savoring local flavors at family-owned restaurants and shops.

      Buffalo Trace Canoe Trail, Winchester

      Paddle down the Kentucky River, following the path of the historic Buffalo Trace, once used by Native Americans and early settlers. Explore ancient rock shelters, encounter diverse wildlife, and learn about the region's fascinating past through interpretive signs. This peaceful journey down the river offers a unique perspective on Kentucky's heritage.

      Big Bone Lick State Park, Union

      Travel back millions of years at Big Bone Lick State Park near Union. Explore the site of a prehistoric megafauna bonebed, where fossils of giant mammoths, mastodons, and other creatures reveal a vanished ecosystem. Visit the Interpretive Center to learn about these ancient giants and their significance.

      Keeneland Racecourse & Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington

      Want to explore the world of thoroughbred horses at Keeneland Racecourse and the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington? Experience the thrill of live horse racing at Keeneland, a renowned venue known as the "Run for the Roses." You can also tour the Kentucky Horse Park, home to the International Museum of the Horse and showcasing various breeds.

      Cathedral Caverns State Park, Hiseville

      Descend into a majestic underground cathedral at Cathedral Caverns State Park near Hiseville. Marvel at awe-inspiring formations like the towering Gothic Arch and the delicate Draperies. Take a guided tour to learn about the cave's geological history and admire the natural beauty illuminated by colorful lights. Witness live music events held within the caverns, creating an unforgettable sensory experience.

      Newport Aquarium

       Journey beneath the surface of the Ohio River and explore the wonders of the aquatic world at the Newport Aquarium. This sprawling aquarium features over 7,000 animals from the Pacific Northwest, Amazon rainforest, and more. Visitors can walk through an underwater tunnel, touch stingrays, and even feed a penguin.

      National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green

      Gearheads, rejoice! This museum houses over 80 stunning Corvettes, including rare and iconic models, making it a pilgrimage site for car enthusiasts.

      Featured Kentucky Parks

      Inspiration From Our Nearby States

      Book an RV in Kentucky

      Explore charming towns, majestic mountains, and bourbon trails at your own pace with the freedom of an RV. Imagine waking up to misty bluegrass valleys, roasting marshmallows under starry skies, and enjoying scenic drives without ever unpacking. Hit the open road in Kentucky - book your RV today! Adventure awaits.

      Frequently Asked Questions

      Kentucky boasts distinct seasons, each offering unique camping experiences. Spring (March-May) provides mild temperatures and wildflowers, while summer (June-August) is perfect for water activities. Fall (September-November) showcases stunning foliage, and winter (December-February) offers fewer crowds and cozy campfire moments.

      It depends on your preferences! Kentucky offers diverse campground options:

      • State parks: Affordable and convenient, with amenities like showers and campsites near lakes, forests, and historical sites. Popular choices include Carter Caves State Park for exploring caves, Nolin Lake State Park for water sports, and Mammoth Cave National Park for underground adventures.
      • National forests: Ideal for backcountry camping and rustic experiences. Check out Daniel Boone National Forest for hiking trails and waterfalls, and Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area for boating and fishing.
      • Private campgrounds: Often cater to specific interests like horseback riding or RV camping. Popular ones include Bar on the Mountain for glamping and The Harrican Lakehouse for lakefront serenity.

      Amenities vary based on the campground. State parks typically offer restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and fire rings. Some have playgrounds, laundry facilities, and camp stores. Private campgrounds often have hookups for RVs, cabins, and additional activities like swimming pools or game rooms.

      It depends. Developed campgrounds in state parks and national parks usually require reservations. Backcountry camping often needs permits, especially in national forests – always check specific regulations before your trip.

      Alcohol consumption is not allowed within Kentucky state parks unless at designated areas like restaurants or lodges with proper permits. Open containers of alcohol are strictly prohibited throughout the park grounds, including campsites.

      Kentucky offers camping adventures for every budget, including some free options. National forests like Daniel Boone allow dispersed camping in designated areas, while some state parks have basic campsites with fire rings and picnic tables for minimal fees. You can sometimes find free overnight parking at Walmart or Cracker Barrel with permission, and certain Bureau of Land Management land even allows dispersed camping.

      State park campsites range from $20-$40 per night for basic options, with premium sites reaching $50-$80 for lakefront views or full hookups. Primitive campsites typically cost $10-$20. Find specific rates and book online at the Kentucky State Parks website.

      Most state parks operate year-round, although some facilities or campsites might have seasonal closures. Consider options like Carter Caves State Resort Park for exploring caves and hiking, Green River Lake State Park for water activities, Natural Bridge State Resort Park for its iconic landmark and history, My Old Kentucky Home State Park for historical immersion, and Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park for lake adventures and cabin camping.

      Become a Go Camping America Member!

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