Tucked away in Boone County, Kentucky is a quaint, 80-acre state park steeped in cultural and natural history, Big Bone Lick State Park. The name of the park refers to the giant fossils found in the area that mystified people for centuries, although they are are now known to be fossils of animals from the pleistocene era. Giant sloths, mastodons, bison, horses, mammoths, and other beasts from the pleistocene era once called the area home, drawn in by the mineral rich spring. Throughout its existence, the area has also been used by Native Americans, settlers, and even vacationers when it became a resort spot in the early 1800's.
Today the park still draws thousands of visitors from all over with its multitude of recreational activities, including hiking, mini golf, birding, fishing, and exploring the museum. Visitors to the park today can also enjoy camping at one of the 62 RV-friendly campsites, complete with hookups, open from November to March. Although Big Bone Lick State Park is loved by history enthusiasts for its vast, far-reaching paleontological and cultural history, it shouldn't be disregarded by nature lovers. The park is home to some of the most beautiful sights in Kentucky, including Big Bone Lake and the grazing bison.
With helpful signage along the major roads leading to the park, Big Bone Lick State Park is a breeze to find. There are different ways to reach the park, but most visitors use I-71 and I-75 and then exit onto KY 338, which takes you right to the park. The paved roads within the park are somewhat limited, with much of the park remaining undeveloped. The roads will take you to parking at various facilities, including the campground, lake, museum, and shelters. Thankfully they are mostly straight and don't have any super tight turns, but you should still be careful when navigating them.
If you're taking advantage of the RV campsite, it should be noted that many visitors choose to bring an extra car to make getting in and out of the park during their stay and finding parking easier. Luckily, two vehicles are allowed at each campsite, so you won't have to pay extra to park your car. You may also choose to hook up the bike rack to your RV and bring bikes with you to help you get along the park.
Hook up your RV and stay a spell at the Big Bone Lick State Park Campground. Each of the 60 campsites at the Campground have electric and water hookups for you to take full advantage of. Although there are no sewer hookups, a dump station is located near the entrance to the campground. Restrooms, showers, and an area to do your laundry are all available at the campground. A camp store is also located within the campground to make going for supply runs or replacing what you forgot to pack easy. The campground also has a neighboring pool and mini golf course for you to enjoy, and best of all, you can camp in your RV for up to 14 consecutive days at the campground. The campground is fairly close to a few trailheads, and is only a short drive from the lake access.
No camping reservations are made at the park, so if you want to reserve a spot you'll have to do before you arrive. When you get there, if any sites are available they may be available for local sale, but this is on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Discovery Trail is comprised of all the trails in the park and measures four and a half miles long. The trail may not be suitable for families with small children since it is somewhat long, but it sure is scenic, taking you throughout the park and the major points of interest. It meanders through multiple types of ecosystems, including grasslands, woodlands, and a woody savanna. This trail also allows you to see the bison and salt-sulfur springs, giving you the chance to take in as much of the park as possible on one trail.
Located beside the campground is an 18-hole miniature golf course that is open from April through October to all visitors. The course is a great opportunity to spend some time practicing your swing in a fun and laid back atmosphere while taking in spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. Hitting the miniature links is just as good for couples as it is for families. After all, who doesn't love mini golf?
Big Bone Lake is just a few acres in size, but it is a great spot to hunker down for a day with your rods and bait to see what you can reel in. Common catches for anglers at the lake includes catfish, bass, bluegill, and sunfish and a Kentucky fishing license is required to fish in the lake. Check to make sure the lake is open before you go, it is sometimes subject to closures.
Pack your compass in the RV and learn how to navigate the woods when you visit Big Bone Lick State Park. Two orienteering courses are offered at the park year round, one for beginners and an intermediate one. Being able to navigate the woods is a priceless life skill, this can be the beginning of a lifelong love of orienteering or just a one-off adventure, but it's definitely worth taking part in while you have the chance.
The park is the perfect place for wildlife viewing year round. Whether you're wanting to get a glimpse of the famous bison, or one of the many species of birds that call the park home, you can find it at Big Bone Lick State Park during the spring and summer months. But the winter months are particularly good for bird watching, with over 50 species of birds inhabiting the area throughout the winter. The park recommends checking out the Big Bone Trail for the best birding opportunities.
The museum and visitor center at Big Bone Lick State Park is the perfect place to learn about the park's vast and fascinating history. The exhibits on display include everything from the bones of mammals from the ice age to Native American artifacts and current research efforts. The visitor center and museum are open year-round, but the hours change during the off-season and it is closed on the weekend. Make sure to check the hours when planning your trip to make sure you have time to check it out.