5 Natural Attractions in Kentucky

Kentucky is known for its beautiful rural countryside and is home to some of the most historic sites in United States history. Also known as the Bluegrass State, Kentucky is home to several sites with historical and natural significance. 

1. Cumberland Gap 

The Cumberland Gap is a National Park that experiences migrations of several different types of wildlife, and at one point experienced the migration that followed Manifest Destiny to the west, providing a route through the mountains. The mountains in Cumberland have a story that runs hundreds of thousands of years back: two tectonic plates collided at this location, pushing one up as a steep barrier. Eventually, water terraformed the mountains that now stand and created a gap between the Appalachian mountains. Cumberland Gap its mountains are covered in rolling farmland, natural water landscapes, and animals such as bison. 

2. Red River Gorge 

Red River Gorge is a geological area, which simply means it has been determined to contain “outstanding formations or unique geological features of the Earth’s development, including caves and fossils”. This gorge can be found on the Red River located in east-central Kentucky and falls within the bounds of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Red River Gorge has extremely unique formations in the rock, such as arches, and scenic areas. Red River Gorge, like most areas that fall under National Parks, allow visitors to set up camp for a small fee – just remember to avoid leaving food out for the critters! 

3. Lewis and Clark National Trail

If your journey to Kentucky is one you’re taking by car, you could possibly see and follow this attraction into the state. This National Trail spans over 4,500 miles and to travel the entire trail would take three to four weeks, compared to Lewis and Clark’s year and a half. Because the land is protected, there are recreational activities including but not limited to outdoor tours, hikes, and displays of art. 

4. Mammoth Cave 

Mammoth Cave is a National Park that aims to preserve a delicate series of cave structures, and the tours that take place help keep the natural landscapes preserved and untouched. Mammoth Cave is located in south-central Kentucky and is the world’s longest known cave system, spanning over 400 miles with more to still be explored. It has been described as “gloomy” by earlier guides, and Mammoth Cave lives up to its name. 

5. Trail of Tears 

Kentucky is just one of nine states that the indigenous Cherokee people were forced to travel in their relocation from east of the Mississippi River to what is now known as Oklahoma. This devastating journey has been coined as the Trail of Tears and gives visibility to the natural effects the Cherokee people had to face in their relocation. It is a place of rich history and is protected as a National Trail. The name “Kentucky” originated from native languages of the Americas and has been compared to the Iroquois “ken-tah-ten”, or land of tomorrow.