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Best Kentucky State Parks to Visit in the Spring


Best Kentucky State Parks to Visit in the Spring

Carter Caves State Resort Park - photo courtesy of Kentucky State Parks

The Top Three Choices Offer Opportunities for Enjoying Cave Tours, Migrating Birds, and the Mountain Laurel Festival.

Spring is an excellent time to visit Kentucky’s state parks and historic sites. Besides the warmer weather, the natural beauty is really starting to show at the parks. The Kentucky State Park system has 17 resort parks that provide lodging, restaurants, hiking, camping, golf, nature programming and other events.

Here are three Kentucky resort parks that offer something unique for visitors to see and do during the spring:

Carter Caves State Resort Park

Located near Olive Hill in northeastern Kentucky, Carter Caves State Resort Park features 20 caves that wind beneath the forested hills. Park visitors can enjoy guided cave tours, hiking trips, mountain biking, fishing, horseback riding and canoe excursions. Cascade Cave features an underground waterfall and X-Cave, named for the shape of its passages and noted for many formations.

During the weekend of March 23-25, the park hosts its Murder Mystery Weekend, where guests get to play detective and solve the crime. Lodging, meal and program packages are available. Carter Caves is also one of six resort parks participating in the new Backcountry Adventure Series, a series of hiking, overnight camping and canoe trips for the more adventurous travelers.

The weekend of April 27-29 is Campers Appreciation Weekend at Carter Caves and the park system’s 30 other campgrounds with 2,600 improved sites. Special rates and programs are offered to campers to kick off the season. Reservations are accepted for camping, but not required. For further information on the park, call 800-325-0059.

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Overlooking the Kentucky Ridge State Forest, this mountaintop resort became Kentucky’s first state park in 1924 and features some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the region. It includes the Herndon J. Evans Lodge, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, cabins and cottages, and the award-winning Wasioto Winds Golf Course.

The park is just a few miles from Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, where Daniel Boone and other pioneers traveled the Wilderness Road. It is also just 30 miles away from the 3,000-acre Blanton Forest, one of the largest old-growth forests in the eastern United States.

Each Memorial Day Weekend, Pine Mountain is host to the Mountain Laurel Festival, a spring mountain celebration that includes concerts, dances, golf tournament and other events to honor the blooming Mountain Laurel. For further information on the park, call 800-325-1712

Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park

Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park, located near Dawson Springs in Western Kentucky, is named after the tiny Pennyroyal plant found in the area. The park is the perfect back-to-nature hideaway in the midst of a secluded forest. Besides the lodge, Pennyrile Forest has 12 cottages surrounding a lake, each with its own private boat dock.

In March, the park hosts the Kentucky Bluebird Society's Annual Public Event where visitors can learn about bluebirds and how to build a bluebird box. Other spring events include the Arbor Day tree give-a-way (first Saturday in April), annual Spring Photography Weekend (mid-April) and the International Migratory Bird Day (mid-May). For further information on the park, call 800-325-1711.

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