John James Audubon State Park in Henderson, Kentucky, has the best of both nature and nurture for you to enjoy. From woods and wetlands to playgrounds and a pool, this park has all kinds of fun stuff to do. It provides cottages, a golf course, and a gift shop as well as primitive campsites and a huge natural wetland. Whether you are coming for the night or for the week, you should be able to find what your family needs at one of the 69 RV campsites that have both water and electric.
The park is named after John James Audubon, who was an artist and ornithologist who lived in the area in the early 1800s. Audubon enjoyed exploring the area as he did his drawings and paintings of everything from birds to buildings. Some of his work is on display at the park at the museum. Much of the area surrounding the park is set aside as a nature preserve to keep the flora and fauna in the park safe.
You’ll find plenty of activities to keep you and your whole family busy while you are here, such as paddling or fishing at the lake, golfing, hiking, tennis, and even touring the museum or enjoying a nature program like scavenger hunting or painting. Of course, you can also just sit by your rig at the campsite and enjoy the peace and tranquility of one of Kentucky’s most untouched parks.
Right on US-41, John James Audubon State Park is easy to find along the Ohio River near the border of Kentucky and Indiana. You can get to US-41 from US-60 or KY-414, and from further out, you can take I-69. Just over 100 miles northeast of Paducah, where you can see the historic downtown and the famous Paducah murals, you’ll also be 125 miles southwest of Louisville, where the Kentucky Derby is held in May.
If you were thinking about checking out some of the other state parks in the area, Harmonie State Park is about 36 miles to the northwest in Harmonie, Indiana, and has 200 campsites as well as fishing, hiking, and biking trails. Interlake State Recreation Area in Lynnville, Indiana, is about 38 miles to the northeast and offers horseback riding, ATV riding, fishing, hiking, and biking.
Once you get into Audubon State Park, you will notice that the streets are all paved and in really excellent condition, so you can maneuver your motorhome around with ease no matter how big it is. Some of the campgrounds may be a bit tricky, though, so make sure you reserve one that is suitable for your needs when booking your site.
Surrounded by pristine woods and natural beauty, the John James Audubon State Park Campground has 69 RV campsites available from Mid-March to December. Length limits for motorhomes and RVs range from 24 to 63 feet, with the majority being about 40 feet. Cooking at your campsite will be easy whether you want to cook indoors or out because not only is there a campfire pit with a grill, but you will also have electric and water hookups for your rig. Reservations are available up to a year in advance. The kids will love the playground that is right in the middle of the campground by the restrooms and shower house. And you will enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding woods as you relax at your spacious campsite. You can bring Fluffy too, as long as you keep him or her restrained at all times while you are here. There is a picnic area nearby as well, and the lake is within walking distance, so you can grab your fishing gear and head out to catch some dinner to cook up on the grill.
If you want to get out of the RV and do some real rugged camping, park the rig in the lot and check out one of the 17 tent sites at the campground. Open from the middle of March to December, 10 of these sites in the southwest corner of the campground have 20-amp electricity, so don't worry about roughing it too much. You will also have your own campfire ring with a grill for cooking on and a picnic table that seats eight so everyone in your group can all eat together.
The other seven sites on the southeastern corner of the campground are primitive with no electricity, but they have fire pits and picnic tables at each site. Potable water access is available by tent site 13, and there are restrooms and hot showers in the middle of the RV campground for everyone’s use. You’ll also have access to the children’s playground so your kids can get some of that energy worked off before bedtime. Pets are welcome, and reservations can be made up to a year in advance.
If you would rather be pampered indoors, John James Audubon State Park also has six cottages. Five of them have one bedroom, and the other is a two-bedroom that is ADA accessible. Each of the one-bedroom cottages can accommodate seven people with a king-size bed, a sleeper sofa, a fireplace, and a full kitchen. They also have televisions with cable in the living room and bedroom, full bathrooms, and a back patio with a view of the lake or the woods.
The two-bedroom cottage has a maximum capacity of 10 with four queen beds, a sleeper sofa, two bathrooms, and a full kitchen. It also has a large flat-screen television with cable, a dining area that seats eight, and a back deck with four chairs so you can sit out and enjoy the peacefulness of nature. The cottages are all located at the end of a cul-de-sac by the pro shop and golf course. Pets are welcome, but you must pay a deposit.
The nine-hole John James Audubon State Park Golf Course runs along the Ohio River and through the woods featuring heavily treed fairways. The first hole is the second-highest hill in the county of Henderson, and you can see for miles up there. You’ll also find a pro shop with all kinds of SWAG and souvenirs to bring home to the family and friends who couldn’t make the trip. If you forgot your clubs, don’t worry; you can rent them at the pro shop. Enjoy a day on the course before heading back to your RV for some BBQ and s’ mores around the campfire.
Make sure you bring your kayak or canoe so you can enjoy a day of paddling on the 28-acre lake. Actually, even if you forgot the boat, you can rent one from the marina in the boat dock area from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Grab your fishing gear, and maybe you can catch some dinner while you are out there. However, make sure you have a fishing license from the state of Kentucky if you are going to fish.
Take a guided hike led by one of the naturalists at the park who can teach you about the flora and fauna in and around the area. You may see wildlife like eagles, hawks, and owls as well as other predators such as weasels or foxes. The park offers specialized hikes year-round that can be tailored to the season or group such as a summer hike for kids to learn about tree identification and fall hikes for those who want to see the changing of the leaves at the park.
Gather up your friends and family in the RV before heading to John James Audubon State Park, where you can enjoy a picnic or barbecue with the whole group. The park boasts four different picnic shelters with tables, grills, and a playground nearby. One of the shelters also has restrooms with running water. Bring some burgers and brats to cook up on the grill or pack a picnic lunch to share with everyone for a fun day at the park before heading back to the campsite for the night. Make sure you reserve the picnic shelter well in advance because the park is popular all year long.
The park boasts 11 different hiking trails from .25-miles to 1.6-miles long with each trail ranging from easy to moderate, so there is something for every type of hiker here. The Museum Trail is the shortest and easiest at .25- miles long, and it begins right behind the museum for a nice walk along a paved path where you can see the park’s bird feeders and water features. For more of a challenge, keep on going on the Museum Trail to the right for a .50-mile trek up the hilltop where you can see for miles. If you like woodpeckers, try the easy 0.4-mile Woodpecker Trail, which begins on Warbler Road by the Welcome Center. From the start of the trail, turn left on the Pawpaw Valley Trail, and cross a bridge to the right and head up a long but steady climb to the top of the hill.
When the weather outside is not agreeable, or you want to spend some time indoors, take a guided tour of the Audubon Museum. Different types of tours are tailored to fit your needs. The Art Tour takes you on a 45- to 60-minute tour through the museum learning about all of Audubon’s exciting and unique types of art such as sketching and painting. For the kids, a scavenger hunt option will let the youngsters use their own skills to find particular articles around the museum. No matter what tour you take, you will definitely learn something about Audubon and the state of Kentucky.