Explore Kentucky’s State Parks
When many people think of Kentucky, they often think of thoroughbreds charging down the backstretch, college basketball buzzer-beaters, and sweet barrel-aged bourbon. And the state proudly accepts that. However, there is a wonderful world of wide-open wilderness to explore in Kentucky and Expedia.com is here to help.
Here are three of Kentucky’s most beautiful state parks, and a few places to serve as your home base while you discover the Bluegrass State’s wilderness.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park
One thing you are not going to want to forget to pack for this trip is your camera! The great sandstone arch is a photogenic gem—and the perfect background for a new profile selfie photo. As picturesque as the park is, there is much more to it than the iconic natural bridge, though.
The Red River Gorge is an outdoor lover’s paradise—full of shaded trails, lazy rivers, and recreational lakes. Natural Bridges State Park highlights all those features perfectly, and you’ll probably need a few days to experience them all. One day can be spent hiking, while the next can focus on the lake. Visitors can hike a few shorter trails to, and up, the natural bridge, as well as a number of longer trails—some strenuous, some moderate—that meander throughout the park. Pack a meal and enjoy a creek-side picnic under one of the sun shelters to keep you fueled up between the trailheads. Cap off your time on the trails with a great night’s sleep at Natural Bridge State Resort Park or one of the nearby hotels—such as the Cliffview Resort or Red River Gorge Cabins—recommended by Expedia.com.
If the early bird gets the worm, he should use that worm to go fishing in Mill Creek Lake. You’ll be able to tempt rainbow trout, bass, and channel catfish—all of which will taste delightful cooked on one of the park’s charcoal grills. If you are not a fisher, fret not—there is still plenty of fun to be had on the lake. You can paddle a canoe or a kayak about, and maybe even stop off to try to spot some native birds. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, and song sparrows are among the most popular winged residents of the park.
Green River Lake State Park
Thanks to an on-site trailer campground, Green River Lake has a full complement of amenities in addition to its natural wonder. So, you can sprinkle some volleyball, miniature golf, and basketball in between fun on the trails and the lake.
We recommend making at least one day an active day, and then taking it easy the next. Get your blood flowing with a ride on all or part of the 28 miles of multi-use and mountain bike trails. Didn’t bring your bike? Then go for a hike! Or, you could ride high in the saddle on one of the horseback riding trails. There are plenty of places to stop along the way for a picnic lunch, so make sure there are some goodies in your backpack before you head out. After your day trekking the trails, Expedia.com recommends you rest up at an area hotel like the Kozy Haven Cabins or Timber Pointe Resort.
Of course, the following day is all about the lake! You can take it slow and drop a line from a boat or cast a lure from the bank in search of dinner. With largemouth, smallmouth, white, and Kentucky bass in the waters, you know it’ll be a mouth-watering meal. Or, you can fly across the water with the clean wind in your face—either by jet ski or by being towed behind a speedboat on a pair of water skis. You can even enjoy an offshore picnic on a houseboat or pontoon boat rental.
Buckhorn Lake State Resort Park
The gently sloping, wooded hills give way to the banks of the gorgeous 1,200-acre Buckhorn Lake, which serves as the centerpiece for this majestic state park. Visitors will enjoy four full seasons of outdoor adventure here. Nesting eagles make a great subject for snap-happy photographers. Spring’s warmer weather brings new life, vibrant color, and songbird serenades back to the park. Summer months are best spent in and on the lake. And, in the fall, the leaves turn from a brilliant summer green to every shade of orange this side of the sun.
One day is not nearly enough to take in all that Buckhorn Lake has to offer. With so many different types of fish in the lake, you’ll need a full day just to try to lure them all. Go after largemouth bass and channel catfish—both of which will make a scrumptious grilled dinner. Or, if you prefer to stay on dry land, there is a web of trails that weave through the park, including a 1.5-mile self-guided informative path. Expedia.com recommends recharging your batteries at one of the local hotels, like the Buckhorn Lake Resort lodge.
The next day, treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon by the lake. Play some miniature golf or challenge a new friend to a game of horseshoes. Explore the park’s grounds, or take a dip in the seasonal swimming pool. If you wanted to get back out on the water, there are nearly 100 open slips and two launching ramps—or, you could rent a pontoon boat and float the day away.
Now that you are inspired to spend some quality time in Kentucky’s incredible state parks, we hope that you’ll get out early and often. Start exploring, Bluegrass State style.