Aerial view of sunset in the Red River Gorge

Daniel Boone Country Region

This rugged region in southeastern Kentucky offers endless opportunities for outdoor adventures – deep gorges, thundering waterfalls, vast forests and stunning views. It calls to those wishing to get away from it all and blaze a new trail. This beautifully natural area is rich in Kentucky history and traditions, paying homage to frontiersman Daniel Boone and Colonel Harland Sanders’s signature recipe alike. Below we’ve highlighted a few of the many towns and attractions in the area to help you plan your next road trip!

Must-See Attractions

Cumberland Falls view with moonbow


Cumberland Falls, also called "Niagara of the South," may be Kentucky’s most famous waterfall. Located at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, the falls are an 125-foot-wide cascade and a popular photo opportunity, especially during select dates throughout the year when you can see the moonbow. It’s the only place in the state, and in fact, the entire Western Hemisphere, where you’ll find the moonbow phenomenon. There’s also Eagle Falls and Dog Slaughter Falls nearby, as well as the Bark Camp Creek Cascades, Pine Island Double Falls and Vanhook Falls near London and more throughout the region.  

Interior view of Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in Mt. Vernon

Music in Mt. Vernon

The town of Mt. Vernon in Rockcastle County is also known for its musical attractions. Discover some of Kentucky’s musical heritage at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame with over 50 inductee exhibits featuring memorabilia from Loretta Lynn, Keith Whitely, J.D. Shelburne and more. The museum is housed in a historic building that once was the site of riding stables for Renfro Valley founder John Lee Lair and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Just down the street you’ll find Renfro Valley Entertainment Center, a 90-acre destination that’s known as “Kentucky’s Country Music Capital.” Great classic country, southern gospel, and mountain bluegrass music ring from the rafters of two unique show theaters – the Old Barn and the New Barn. 

Family views Red River Gorge Geological Area from overlook at sunset

Red River Gorge Geological Area

Also known as “The Red” or simply RRG, the Red River Gorge Geological Area is a unique scenic area in the Daniel Boone National Forest about an hour southeast of Lexington spanning Powell and Wolfe counties. Featuring over 100 natural sandstone gorges surrounded by heavily forested slopes, ridges and cliffs, the RRG offers outdoor fun year-round, including 70 miles of hiking trails, world-renowned rock climbing, camping, wildlife viewing and more. The nearby Kentucky Trail Town of Slade is home to one of the most popular state parks, Natural Bridge State Resort Park, where you can hike or ride the sky lift to the namesake arch which stretches more than 75 feet long and 65 feet high. 

Exterior of Harland Sanders Café and Museum

Food & Local Spirits

Visit the newly renovated Harland Sanders Café and Museum in Corbin where Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, operated the restaurant from 1940 to 1956 and developed the famous KFC secret recipe during the 1940s. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990. The Bluegrass State’s fried chicken legacy continues to live on – many restaurants put their own flairs on this timeless classic and there’s even a Fried Chicken Trail! Be sure to make a stop in Letcher County at Kentucky Mist Distillery to try local spirits including whiskey, moonshine and vodka. This craft distillery located on Main Street in Whitesburg has a rich, storied heritage of distilling spirits in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. 

Overlook at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park

Cumberland Gap National Historic Park

Known as the first great gateway to the West, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Middlesboro, is where buffalo, Native Americans, longhunters and pioneers once roamed. Start at the Visitor’s Center, then drive a short distance away to the Pinnacle overlook, offering a spectacular mountain view of the Gap in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia. Take a guided tour of Gap Cave or Hensley Settlement, a historic settlement on top of Brush Mountain. 

Underground kayaking at the Gorge Underground


With a number of waterways and eight Kentucky Trail Towns, Daniel Boone Country is the perfect place for some paddling! For something different, take a kayak and stand-up paddleboard (SUP) tour at the Gorge Underground, a 100-year-old flooded limestone mine in the Red River Gorge Geological Area. Near London, check out Laurel River Lake with more than 5,600 acres of clear, deep water and over 200 miles of tree-lined shores. Other canoeing and kayaking adventures are available at local rivers and lakes, including Wood Creek Lake. In Hazard/Perry County, paddle the North Fork River Trail – you can rent a kayak at the Perry County Park, which is also where you will end your trip.

ATV vehicle drives over rocks at Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area

Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area

Black Mountain is Kentucky’s highest point. The Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area near Evarts in Harlan County is a top off-roading destination in the nation – with over 200 miles of trails on more than 7,000 acres, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable time! Bring your own ATV, dirt bike, jeep or other off-road vehicle, or book a guided ATV tour. 

Horseback trail ride near Trail Town of McKee

Horseback Riding

Southeastern Kentucky is home to all kinds of outdoor fun, including horseback riding! There’s several miles of trails to explore if you have your own horse, or area stables which offer guided rides. Take a horseback ride with Red Hill Horse Camp or Climax Horse Camp near Livingston, the first Kentucky Trail Town in eastern Kentucky. Other trail towns offer riding as well, including McKee in Jackson County, with the Triple R Ranch outside of town that offers fun horseback riding adventures and London, which has miles of trails for you to explore at Hang ‘Em High Horse Camp. Nearby, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park offers seasonal trail rides. In Lee County, schedule a ride with Whisper Valley Riding Stables. Knott County organizes several horseback trail rides throughout the year. 

Portal 31 Exhibition Mine Tour

Portal 31 Coal Mine Tour

In the Harlan Tri-Cities area, journey into the underground world of coal miners with the Portal 31 Exhibition Mine Tour. The tour takes you through an actual coal mine and gives insight into the coal industry and local coal mining communities. Motorcyclists should stop in the Backroads of Appalachia welcome center in Lynch across the street from Portal 31 for information on Dragon Slayer Highway 160, a 20-mile destination ride with more than 200 curves. The Kentucky Coal Museum is also nearby, with exhibits focusing on miners’ lifestyles, mining equipment and the “Coal Miner’s Daughter” honoring Loretta Lynn. 

Public art installation in the Harlan Tri-Cities area of a black bear

Public Art

Keep your eyes peeled for public art and local artisan shops while exploring this region. You never know what treasures you might find, including this beautifully painted bear in Harlan County. Nearby in the small town of Cumberland, be sure to stop in Poor Folks Arts & Crafts to browse local handcrafted items and the Godbey Appalachian Cultural & Fine Arts Center, which preserves the region’s culture and heritage with an extensive collection of artifacts. About an hour and a half north of Harlan County, explore the Art of the Mountains Perry County Quilt Trail and local downtown shops.

Dog Slaughter Falls

More information about the region