It’s no secret that Kentucky is the home of American bourbon, a spirit known and loved by people the world over.
But the state has a lot more going for it than a pale brown liquor.
Kentucky, though one of the USA’s smallest states, punches above its weight in the scenic beauty stakes, with much of the state outside of Louisville untamed and unspoiled.
Breaks Interstate Park
Kentucky is one of only two states in the whole of the country with a bi-state park which crosses the border into another state. But that’s precisely what you’ll find at the Breaks Interstate Park, which travels over into Virginia to the east.
The park is home to one of the most stunning canyons in the nation, a five-mile-long gorge which sinks as low as 250 feet into the bedrock. It’s not entirely on the scale of the Grand Canyon, but it’s still remarkably impressive for a state that borders the Appalachians.
The Cumberland Gap National Park
The Allegheny Mountains used to be a formidable natural barrier in the state, preventing many of the early pioneers from traveling further westward to pastures new. But with the discovery of the Cumberland Gap, that all changed. Finally, there was a way to get wagons through the mountains and out onto the other side, without having to take the long detour south.
Now the region is given over to this national historical park – more than 20,000 acres worth. And visitors can climb the famous Pinnacle Overlook from which they can survey three different states: Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.
Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge
The Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to take the family to enjoy some outdoor fun and watch beautiful animals in their natural habitats.
You can stay in a hotel in Paducah, Kentucky, nearby, and travel across the Ohio River to the refuge, just a few miles away. Once there, take advantage of the various platforms throughout the area for observing ducks, geese, and other aquatic wildlife.
Red River Gorge
The Red River Gorge is a natural formation found in the Daniel Boone National Forest. If you’re somebody who liked geography class when you were young, the gorge provides a spectacle of practically every natural water formation you can imagine–including waterfalls, mountain pools, caves, cliffs, and natural arches.
The most impressive of these arches is the Natural Bridge which rises more than 65 feet into the air. The park’s geology is more than sixty million years old and extends over nearly 30,000 acres.
Big South Fork Recreational Area
If you’re traveling near Cumberland Falls, then the Big South Fork is just a few miles away. Here you’ll find some of the most stunning rock formations in the Appalachians, with big spikes jutting out at all angles from the bedrock.
Flanked by forests, the Big South Fork feels truly unique and is an excellent place for hikers with a penchant for the unknown. Access by road is good, with plenty of stops for taking in the stunning views.