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Famous for bluegrass, bourbon, and horses, Kentucky may not be the first place that comes to mind when planning an RV trip. But in fact, the commonwealth is full of stunning natural scenery, from the Ohio and Mississippi rivers to the Appalachian Mountains. Kentucky is home to five National Park Service sites, including the famous Mammoth Caves National Park, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, and Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace. Additional federally protected recreation areas and forests all add up to make Kentucky a premier destination for families, history buffs, and outdoors adventurers alike.
The Kentucky state park system has locations near NPS sites but also highlights lesser-known historical and natural destinations in the state. Did you know that one of Kentucky’s state parks is considered the birthplace of paleontology in the United States? Keep reading!
State park campgrounds have partial hookups and amenities like pools, playgrounds, and mini golf, in addition to hiking trails and water activities. “Resort” parks include a lodge with restaurants, shops, and WiFi. Since 2016, several state park improvement projects have been initiated with additional funding from the state government. Kentucky state park campgrounds are a comfortable and economical way to explore the state, and it’s never been a better time to visit.
To make a reservation, visit parks.ky.gov/parks/reservecampground or call 888-459-7275.
Reservations can be made up to one year in advance. Reservations are recommended but not required. Unreserved sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
A minimum of 2 nights applies over weekends during peak season, 3 nights over holidays.
Campsite sizes vary within each campground. The reservation system allows searching for campsites per park by maximum RV length.
ADA-accessible sites are designed for customers with disabilities and/or mobility difficulty. Accessible sites are searchable and bookable online. These sites can be reserved by anyone if they are the last site available that fits their camping needs.
All campgrounds offer sites with electric and water hookups. Some sewer hookups are available. Each park’s website gives a description of their sites, and hookups are searchable online by campground.
All 17 Kentucky state park resorts have WiFi available at their lodge. If connectivity is a priority, contact the park directly for information on WiFi and cell service.
The maximum stay is 14 consecutive nights out of 16. Longer stays may be allowed with permission from the park manager.
Each campsite has a fire ring and picnic table. Some offer additional amenities, such as wooden decks. Site details including ground cover are available in the reservation system search results.
Basic campground facilities include a dump station, store, playground, restrooms with showers, and trails. Additional amenities can include a ranger station, interpretive center, laundry, and a wide range of outdoor activity access, sports fields, and gear rentals. Details are available on each park’s website and under “Services and Amenities” in the reservation system search results.
Kentucky state parks “resorts” include a lodge with overnight accommodations and WiFi.
Prices range from $16 for a standard site to $45 for a premium site over a holiday. A $2 premium fee is applied over weekends during peak season.
Nonrefundable reservation fee: $6
Cancellations up to 15 days prior to arrival: $10
Cancellations within 14 days of arrival also forfeit the first night’s fee.
Pets are allowed as long as they’re kept on a leash. And of course, campers should always pick up after their pet.
- Maximum occupancy per site: 1 vehicle, 8 people.
- Check-in time: 2 p.m. Check-out time: 1 p.m.
- Quiet hours begin at 11 p.m.; end time varies by park.
- Alcoholic beverages: Public display of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.
- Generator use: Rules may vary; check with the specific campground.
- Campfires: Allowed in designated rings or pits, following local advisories.
- Drone use: Permitted with an approved permit. Contact the park directly for a permit form prior to arrival.
Big Bone Lick State Historic Site
3380 Beaver Road, Union, KY 41091
A family-friendly state park, Big Bone Lick gets its funny name from the fossils of prehistoric mammals who were attracted to a salt lick here and became stuck in the marshy ground, where their bones were preserved. A museum, ranger programs, and outdoor megafauna dioramas all help bring this fascinating past to life. Another thrilling sight and a unique highlight of the park is a bison herd.
The park’s spacious campground has just over 60 sites with partial hookups. Campground facilities include restrooms with showers, laundry, and a grocery store. In addition to the fossils and bison, playgrounds, a pool, mini golf, and marked wooded hiking trails make this state park campground a great family destination. Note that the campground is closed seasonally from November 13 through March 14.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park
2135 Natural Bridge Road, Slade, KY 40376
Though it makes a great base for touring the adjacent Red River Gorge Geological Area, Natural Bridge State Resort Park also has its own scenic wonders to enjoy and amenities to keep everyone entertained. The highlight of this 2,200-acre park in Daniel Boone National Forest is a majestic sandstone arch accessible by hiking trail or by “sky lift.” The ski chairlift carries an additional cost, but is a fun way for small children or anyone with mobility limitations to view the natural bridge. Several other hiking trails are available, along with fishing, canoeing, and kayaking on Mill Creek Lake.
Family-friendly activities include pedal boats, a swimming pool, and mini golf. Additional amenities are available at Hemlock Lodge in the park, such as a gift shop, a restaurant, and WiFi. The park’s campground features over 70 sites that can accommodate RVs: 50 with partial hookups, the rest dry sites that can also be used by tent campers. A dump station is available. Site sizes vary and options are limited for big rigs. The campground is basic, clean, and all about its location among the spectacular natural surroundings.
Columbus-Belmont State Park
350 Park Road, Columbus, KY 42032
This is a small state park that packs a punch with beautiful grounds, a commanding location overlooking the Mississippi River, family-friendly amenities, and fascinating history. Columbus-Belmont State Park is a National Scenic Byway, a National Trail of Tears Site, and part of the Civil War Heritage Trail. The Civil War museum is housed in a former hospital from the period, and the park grounds include uncovered earthworks and an anchor and chain that was used strategically in the Mississippi River during the war.
The well-maintained campground has just under 40 sites spaciously arranged in a loop. All have electric and water hookups. Ten sites have full hookups and an ideal location backing up to the river. Sites are big rig friendly and have easy access to shared facilities including restrooms with showers, a playground, and a ranger station. The campground also has a mini golf course, a snack bar, and a few trailers and a log cabin that can be booked directly. Altogether, Columbus-Belmont State Park is a great campground for families, with beautiful scenery and interesting history that everyone will enjoy.
Kentucky state park campgrounds that accommodate RV camping
Barren River Lake State Resort Park
Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park
Carr Creek State Park
Carter Caves State Resort Park
Columbus-Belmont State Park
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park
Fort Boonesborough State Park
General Burnside Island State Park
General Butler State Resort Park
Grayson Lake State Park
Green River Lake State Park
Greenbo Lake State Resort Park
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park
John James Audubon State Park
Kenlake State Resort Park
Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park
Kincaid Lake State Park
Lake Barkley State Resort Park
Lake Cumberland State Resort Park
Lake Malone State Park
Levi Jackson Wilderness Road Park
My Old Kentucky Home State Park
Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Nolin Lake State Park
Paintsville Lake State Park
Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park
Taylorsville Lake State Park
Yatesville Lake State ParkFor more information on Kentucky state park campgrounds, visit parks.ky.gov/.