Looking for your next RV vacation destination in Kentucky? Look no further than Carter Caves State Resort Park. The park provides a unique experience you've likely never come across before. Its premiere attraction is the caves themselves, which act like a doorway to the past, giving RV visitors a peek into the natural history of the park, dating back millions of years ago. Of course, the park has its fair share of cultural history as well, including certain areas of the caves being mined during the war of 1812 for saltpeter to make gunpowder. Although there are plenty of natural wonders to see in the caves, like the mysterious "pipe organ" and an underground waterfall, there is much more to do in the park.
If you're staying the night, you can hook your rig up to one of the 89 RV campsites and then explore the rest of what the park has to offer, including several miles of trails, a mini golf course, and water ways for fishing, boating, and swimming. Be sure to check out the gift shop at the welcome center before leaving, where you can buy souvenirs and crafts to remember your trip, gaze at the featured rock display, and even mine for gems.
Located at 344 Caveland Drive, Carter Caves State Park isn't difficult to locate. The easiest way to get there is using US-60 or US-64, get onto KY-182, and then follow the signage to the park. Despite the fact that the park stretches for over 2,000 acres, the roads within the park are limited. The roads will take you to all of the main park facilities, such as the campgrounds, lodge, welcome center, boat ramp, and cave tour parking, but the majority of the park has been left in its natural state.
Once you get away from the hustle and bustle around the facilities, you'll find the only way to explore the park is by foot or bike, using the dozens of miles of trails. However, the roads that are there are in good condition and don't pose any hazards to those in RVs, except maybe for those in especially large RVs, 50 feet or over. If you're rig is very large, you should be extra cautious while navigating some of the turns, including the ones in the campground. Drivers of vehicles of all sizes should also be cautious during the fall when the road is more likely to be covered in leaves and slippery after rain.
The campground at Carter Caves State Resort Park is made up of 121 campsites, 89 of which are meant for RVs and feature electric hookups. All of the RV sites feature a fire pit and picnic table, although they vary in length. Two bathouses are located within the campground and the shelter and adjacent playground are the perfect places to relax and wind down while you're not venturing around the park. The campground is right beside the mini golf course, and just a short drive from the boating and fishing access. There are also two bunkhouses, with six bunk beds and electricity, for those who want a slightly more luxurious experience than tent camping, but don't have an RV. All of the sites are available to reserve year-round, including the tent sites. Just be sure you pay close attention to the site length when reserving online so that you don't reserve a site that can't accommodate your RV or trailer.
The Equestrian Camp at Carter Caves State Resort Park is the perfect place to hitch up your trailer and stay the weekend with your equine friend. With dozens of trails waiting to be explored, there's plenty of recreation and sightseeing for you and your horse. The 10-mile, multi-use Kiser Hollow Trail can be easily accessed from the campground. All of the campsites feature electric, sewer, and water hookups and are plenty spacious enough for you and your horse. The sites also have four horse hitching posts, a fire pit, and a picnic table, making it tempting for even people without horses. If you don't have a horse but want to stay at the equestrian campground, you can make reservations, but not more than ten days before your expected arrival date. All of the equestrian campsites are available for reservations but you must call the park directly to book a site.
None of the sites are set aside for walk-up sale only, but when you arrive, any sites that are not already reserved are assigned on a first-come, firs- served basis. The peak season is usually from late May to early September, so you should definitely make a reservation if you're planning on camping at the park during that time frame.
None of the equestrian campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you have to make a reservation if you want to stay here.
Smoky Lake provides the perfect setting for both boating and fishing, so don't forget to strap your canoe on top of your RV before visiting the park. Both canoeing and kayaking is allowed at the park and there's no better place in perhaps all of Kentucky to do it than Smoky Lake, as you can relax while floating along the 45-acre lake. The south shore of the lake is totally undisturbed, giving you the perfect opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the park surrounding you.
From April through late November you can mine for gems in the gift shop. Sift through dirt and rough matter using a screen and a little bit of water to discover precious gemstones such as quartz, topaz, moonstone, garnett, sapphire, citrine, ruby, and more! RV visitors of all ages can mine for gems and fossils in the gift shop, and when you're done, you get to use all the information around you in the gift shop to help you identify items in your loot.
Fisherman young and old will love trying their luck at Smoky Lake. Whether you have your own equipment or not, you can still fish in the lake. RV visitors who don't have their own poles can use ones from the park for free through their loaner program. The only thing you absolutely have to have is a fishing license and a little bit of patience. Anglers at the lake may snag catches including largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill, and catfish.
It'd be a shame to pack up your RV and leave the park without doing a little spelunking first. The guided tours of some of the caves, offered year-round, are loved by visitors young and old as you get to behold some of the most breathtaking natural geological processes. Stepping into the caves is like stepping into a completely different world, where you can see stalagmites, stalactites, underground lakes and waterfalls. The largest cave, Bat Cave, is only open during the summer since 40,000 Myotis bats use it to hibernate during the winter.
Don't forget your binoculars in your RV, because Carter Caves State Resort Park is a bird lover's paradise, with dozens of species just waiting to be spotted. What species you see will depend on what time of year you go, but the park is teeming with a diverse group of birds year round. Whoever said winter was boring was lying, because during the winter you'll likely see purple finches, wrens, sparrows, juncos, and pine siskins in the park.
The park is also home to over 20 miles of hiking trails that you can meander through while staying at Carter Caves State Resort Park. They vary greatly in length and difficulty, from just one-tenth of a mile all the way to ten miles, and from easy family friendly terrain to more difficult terrain best suited for experienced hikers. The trials take you throughout the breathtaking scenery of the park, including over several natural bridges and through lush forests. Some of the trails also allow hiking and biking, such as the Ridgetop Trail.