Day Trips at Two State Parks

Within 100 miles of Lexington, Carter Caves State Resort Park and Lake Cumberland State Park offer families a chance to reconnect with nature and each other.

Carter Caves, founded in 1946, today boasts 2,000 acres and a higher concentration of caves than anywhere else in the state.

Carter Caves has an 89-site campground with two swimming facilities. Lake Cumberland, founded in 1951, has close to 3,000 acres of recreational space with 129 sites in its campground with three swimming facilities.

Carter Caves also offers eight horse camp sites with electricity, water and sewer, and hitching posts for up to four horses.

For those seeking something less rugged, both parks have lodges with Internet access and fully equipped guest cottages.

Lake Cumberland has two lodges. Lure Lodge has an indoor pool that is open year-round, and Pumpkin Creek Lodge has several rooms with private wet bars. Lake Cumberland offers guests cottages, too, that have all the amenities of home.

With both parks within easy driving distance (and inexpensive room rentals), families can save time and money staying close to home without sacrificing vacation memories.

Carter Caves At a Glance
Caving – The park contains numerous caves and some are open for year-round tours. Cascade Cave and X-Cave can be visited on guided tours any time of the year.

– The park offers miniature golf and a 9-hole regulation course. Nearby, Grayson Lake and Yatesville Lake Golf Courses offer 18-hole courses.

– Equipment is available to overnight guests.

– Carter Caves has 26 miles of trails, ranging from half a mile to 10 miles.

Horse backriding
– Guests can take a 3.5 mile, 45-minute guided ride for $18 or take off on the trails with their own horse.

– Lifeguard protected pool use is $2. Non-lodging guests pay $4 for adults and $3 for kids and seniors.

– Smokey Valley Lake is Kentucky’s first trophy bass lake. Guests can leave their own equipment at home and rent free equipment on site.

– Guests can canoe at Smokey Valley Lake for $10 for adults and $5 for children.
Tygart Creek Regretta Canoe Excursion on May 5 – This six-mile canoe trip will take guests through a scenic limestone gorge and limestone tunnel. Canoe experience is required and guests need to pre-register. The excursion costs $25 and will last about 3.5 hours.

Pickin’ at the Caves
– The first Monday of every month becomes a musical celebration at Lewis Caveland Lodge. Guests can bring their instruments and play with local musicians from 7 to 9 p.m.

Tygart Gorge and Arches Hike
– Guests can take a 7-mile hike through the park passing by the old Johnson home place, the former homestead of a well-known moonshiner. Cost is $10 and guests must pre-register.

Lake Cumberland At a Glance
Boating – Guests can bring their own boats to the marina and store them at one of 100 open slips, or rent one from the park. Fishing boats, house boats, pontoon boats and ski boats are available.

– Guests can bring their own tackle box or rent all the gear from the Country Store and spend the day by the lake.

– The park offers two pools for guests. The indoor pool at Lure Lodge is enclosed in an atrium, is temperature controlled and sits underneath a retractable skylight for summer days. Other guests can enjoy their time by the lifeguard protected outdoor pool open during the summer.

Horse backriding
– The park offers guided riding excursions that leave every hour.

– The park’s hiking trails range from 1.6 miles to 4 miles.

– Equipment is available to overnight guests.

Disc golf
– Instead of “ball” golf, guests can play with Frisbees on an 18-hole course.

– The park provides the equipment.

Game room
– Guests can get their dose of video games.