Combine camping with rock climbing, horseback riding, and epic views in the Bluegrass State.
Kentucky camping adventures are never boring. Whether you want to saddle up and gallop the bluegrass hills, scale the soaring cliffs of the Red River Gorge, or explore the world’s longest cave system, this southern state provides endless ways to get outdoors. Kentucky’s six national parks and 45 State Parks are brimming with woodlands, waterfalls, and waterways where you can hike, bike, paddle, raft, or even play a game of golf. The natural landscapes are at their most ravishing in spring and fall, but camping is a year-round pastime with RV sites, cottages, and rustic cabins to see you through the winter chill.
The state capital of Lexington is the gateway to the Bluegrass Region, where Kentucky’s horse racing legacy takes center stage. Once you’ve visited Kentucky Horse Park and followed the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, experience 18th-century life and camp with full hookups at Fort Boonesborough State Park, go kayaking along the Licking River, or camp by the lakeside at Kincaid Lake State Park.
The misty peaks, sweeping gorges, and natural caves of the Appalachian Mountains blanket Eastern Kentucky. Adventurers will find plenty of fun here, whether rock climbing in the Red River Gorge, riding your ATV through the Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area, or hiking, camping, and horseback riding at the many state parks. If we had to pick the highlights, they’d certainly include caving at Carter Caves State Resort Park and admiring the “Niagara of the South” at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.
Bourbon distilleries, historic sites, and natural wonders abound in central Kentucky. Once you’ve experienced Kentucky Derby fever in Louisville and enjoyed the urban hiking trails in Elizabethtown, stop by the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park. Further south, there’s rustic camping and UNESCO-listed caves to explore at Mammoth Cave National Park and popular campgrounds Green River Lake and Taylorsville Lake state parks. Or why not rent a houseboat and cruise around Lake Cumberland?
It’s not all about bluegrass music and BBQ in west Kentucky—there’s also some great lakeside camping. There are myriad ways to get on the water at the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, from kayaking and tubing to jet skiing and waterskiing, and you’ll find campgrounds at Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley, and Lake Malone State Park. Or, combine camping and Civil War history at Columbus-Belmont State Park.
Yes, Kentucky is an excellent destination for camping, offering a variety of scenic landscapes, including rolling hills, forests, lakes, and rivers. The state is home to numerous state parks, national parks, and private campgrounds that cater to tent campers, RV enthusiasts, and even cabin rentals for a more comfortable experience.
Some popular camping destinations in Kentucky include:
These locations offer a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing, boating, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing, making Kentucky a fantastic choice for camping enthusiasts.
The best month to camp in Kentucky is typically October. During this time, the weather is cooler and more comfortable, with daytime temperatures ranging from 60°F to 70°F. October also offers stunning fall foliage, making it an ideal time for hiking and enjoying the outdoors. Additionally, you can find numerous camping options in Kentucky, such as hiking campgrounds, forest campgrounds, and river campgrounds.
Yes, boondocking, or dispersed camping, is legal in Kentucky on public lands such as national forests and some wildlife management areas. In Kentucky, you can find boondocking opportunities in the Daniel Boone National Forest, which offers numerous locations for dispersed camping. However, it's essential to follow the rules and regulations set by the land management agency and practice Leave No Trace principles to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. For more developed camping options, you can explore various campgrounds and private lands through Hipcamp.