Big Bone Lick State Historic Site
ALERT: The lake, lake access, and 0.5 miles of Coralberry Trail are closed for safety reasons due to a leak in the dam. An assessment of the dam is being made during this closure. Apologies for any inconvenience.
Top Five Things to Do
1. Visit the Bison herd.
2. Tour the museum and diorama pit.
3. Discover salt springs along one of 5 trails.
4. Camp overnight.
5. Grab a souvenir T-shirt.
Big Bone Lick’s museum exhibits are fresh and new! The park, in cooperation with the Friends of Big Bone and the Cincinnati Museum Center, worked together to create and produce all new exhibits for the park’s Visitor Center. Work on the final phase of exhibit installation is now complete. We encourage you to plan a visit to Big Bone Lick soon to see our exciting new displays on paleontology, Ordovician geology, ice age mammals, Native American history, the chronology of science at Big Bone, and ongoing research currently underway at the park.
Open all year.
Park grounds close at dark daily, year-round. Admission to the park as well as the museum & visitor center is free to all visitors year round.
Campground closes Nov. 15, 2020 and reopens March 15, 2021; Gift shop & museum open Thurs. - Sun. through winter
Field Trips and Outreach Programs
Things to Do
The bison are perpetually viewable every day of the year. Owing to weather conditions, visitors may occasionally have to hunt for them in the wooded lots that provide shelter and shade. The bison is the largest of all North American land mammals. Great bison herds once roamed this area and provided food, clothing and shelter for the American Indians and pioneers. Hunted to near extinction, the last of the wild bison was seen in Kentucky around 1800. The bison herd today recalls the park’s prehistoric past and are our only living mammalian link to the Ice Age.
The Discovery Trail begins at the Megafauna diorama, just behind the visitor’s center. The trail meanders along Big Bone Creek past interpretive panels that impart the prehistoric drama that unfolded around the salt/sulfur springs during the last Ice Age. The trail is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Orienteering is a woods navigation sport wherein participants use map and compass or GPS to navigate an established course. Big Bone Lick’s orienteering courses were the site of the 2012 U.S. Intercollegiate and Interscholastic Championships as well as the 2015 Kentucky Outdoor Adventure Games. The park currently offers two permanent, woodland orienteering courses. A beginners’ course covering 2.7 km and an intermediate course covering 4.5 km, both featuring 10 checkpoints.
Mid to late spring is accented by the arrival of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and a host of colorful warbler species. In summer, an assortment of hawks pinwheel high overhead during the day and the haunting calls of owls echo through the forest at night. Fall ushers in opportunities to see migrating communal flocks as they flit and dart about, searching for tidbits and morsels to fuel their journey. After the leaves have fallen, the starkness of the barren landscape affords unhindered views of over 50 species of birds that over-winter in the park. Altogether, Big Bone Creek Trail is likely the premiere locale within the park for year-round birding.
Spacious campground features 62 campsites with utility hookups, grills, a swimming pool and playground. Showers, rest rooms, and laundry facilities are available at a central service building. There is a campground grocery store on-site for your convenience, which is open mid-March through mid-November. Check-in time begins 2 p.m. and check-out time is 1 p.m.
The park’s gift shop is a unique browsing experience. Visitors will find a charming assortment of t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, books, fossils, collectible rocks and minerals, park-themed toys, handcrafts, candies, and more. It’s the perfect place to find the perfect item to take home as a souvenir of your visit to Big Bone Lick.
Enjoy the serenity of wooded seclusion along the trails at one of Kentucky’s most unique parks. There are 4.5 miles of hiking trails with each varying in terrain and difficulty. Observe an abundance of wildlife as the trails meander from forested ridges to the babbling waters of Big Bone Creek. Open year round.
- Big Bone Creek Trail: .9 mile, easy.
- Bison Trace Trail: .5 mile, easy.
- Cedar Run Trail: .9 mile, easy.
- Corralberry Trail: 2 miles, moderate.
- Gobblers Trace Trail: .5 mile, moderate.
An 18-hole miniature golf course, with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, is near the entrance to the campground. Open April 1- October 31 to all visitors.
Nearly 40 acres of picnic grounds with tables, grills and a playground areas are ideal for family outings. The two picnic shelters have tables, grills, water and electric, and may be reserved for rental up to one year in advance. Year-round.
Two playgrounds ideal for family outings.
A swimming pool is available at the campground for campground guests only. Seasonal.
Tennis courts are available for the enjoyment of park visitors. Seasonal.