By Penny Fox
When most people think of Kentucky, they think of bourbon, horses, and bluegrass music, but that’s not all for which the state is known. Part of the Appalachian Mountain range, Kentucky has some of the best areas for fall camping on the eastern side of the country. Below are five of the most perfect camping spots throughout the state where you can relax, take a hike, fish, or watch a beautiful sunset reflected in the quiet waters of a lake.
Surrounded by the beautiful Daniel Boone National Forest near the eastern part of the state, the Natural Bridge State Resort Park near Slade, Kentucky, is a camper’s delight. With over 2,200 acres and a nature preserve with more than 22 miles of great hiking trails, a large fishing lake, and plenty of space for camping, you won’t have any trouble except deciding where to spend the night. There are two camping areas with 86 sites available, some with electric and some for primitive tent camping only. Within the park, there is boating, kayaking, and canoeing, swimming when the weather permits, a nature center, picnic area, children’s playground, a miniature golf course, and seasonal activities like live music performances and ranger-presented programs. Reservations can be made in advance, but there are minimum night stays required. Check the website for additional information on applicable fees and any alerts before setting up camp.
Otter Creek, the waterway for which the park is named, lies on the eastern side of the recreation area near Braedenburg, Kentucky, and is owned and maintained by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. In addition to upgraded and primitive cabins, an archery range, disc golf course, shooting range, and trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, there are also campground sites available, some with electric and some suitable for tent camping. The campground is open from April 1 through October when staff is on site, but at other times of the year with registration.
Considered one of the best family campgrounds in the state, the Red River Gorge is where you can find Callie’s Lake and Campground. Complete with a four-acre lake, 50-acre campground, hiking trails, and rock climbing locations, there is nothing better than the sunset reflected in Callie’s Lake. There are over 50 primitive camping sites with fire rings and picnic tables, and the lake is fully stocked in case you want to spend some time fishing.
Recognized by Kentucky Living Magazine as a Reader’s Choice Award winner for best horseback riding trail and best vacation getaway, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park near Corbin, Kentucky, has a unique feature that you won’t find anywhere else. Called the “Niagara of the South” with good reason, the dynamic 125-foot waterfall is breathtaking by day, but on moonlit nights, there’s an otherworldly moonbow haze surrounding the falls that is worth seeing.
Reserve a spot at this 39-site campground situated among breathtaking mountain vistas. Pets are allowed if they are leashed. There is a glistening, 750-acre lake for fishing with good bass, crappie, and walleye. Wildlife in the area includes wood duck, ruffled grouse, wild turkey, red-winged blackbird, warblers, raccoon, skunk, and more.