VIP Vacation: Kentucky State Parks

Take a drive in Kentucky for two hours and chances are you’ll go by or near a Kentucky State Park.

The 49 Kentucky parks are located in all regions of the state, making it easy for a day trip or an overnight stay or weekend camping trip. You can learn about Kentucky history, take a nature hike or enjoy a great meal at one of the resort park restaurants.

Barren River Lake State Resort Park, just 30 miles east of Bowling Green, has everything a guest might need – overnight lodging, cottages, a restaurant, camping, a beach, a marina and plenty of other recreational activities along a 10,000-acre lake. The park also features an 18-hole golf course. Most resort parks offer recreational programming during the summer, so find the park naturalist to see what is planned during your stay.

Another park just 40 miles from Bowling Green is Nolin Lake State Park, with 32 developed campsites and another 40 sites for tent camping. All are a short distance from the 5,800-acre Nolin Lake and plenty of boating and fishing.  The park has a boat ramp, beach and 9 miles of mountain bike trails.

Rough River Dam State Resort Park also sits along a lake, which means fishing and boating are always popular. Guests have access to a lodge, cottages, restaurant and marina. During the summer, local musicians play outdoors on most Friday evenings behind the lodge and always draw a crowd.

Rough River is 58 miles north of Bowling Green just outside of Leitchfield. The park also has a 3,200-foot paved airstrip for those who may want to fly in.

For history buffs, drive 96 miles from Bowling Green to My Old Kentucky Home State Park in Bardstown. The historic mansion, Federal Hill, was completed in 1812 and inspired the state song, “My Old Kentucky Home” by Stephen Foster. Tours are offered daily and there’s also a campground and golf course, as well as a summer drama next door.

Along Kentucky’s southern border are three resort parks that offer great options for overnight stays.

Lake Cumberland State Resort Park near Jamestown sits on the 50,000-acre Lake Cumberland, which offers great boating, fishing and other outdoor recreation. The park has a lodge, cottages, a restaurant, camping, and marina.

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park near Corbin features the iconic Cumberland Falls, a 125-foot curtain of water. During the full moon each month, guests can witness the “moonbow” at the falls. The park also offers a lodge, cottages, camping, hiking and other outdoor recreation.

A little further east you’ll find Pine Mountain State Resort Park at Pineville. Enjoy great mountain views from the lodge or a cottage. There’s also a restaurant, an 18-hole golf course, and hiking trails. Pine Mountain is just a few miles from Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, the first great gateway to the west for thousands of pioneers.

For more information about these and other Kentucky State Parks, or to make reservations, visit