Six Kentucky RV Campgrounds Worth Discovering

From rock-ledged, old growth forests to an amazing collection of underground caverns, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has attractions to build your RV camping season around. Why not use our list of six Kentucky RV campgrounds worth discovering to start planning this year’s adventures?

  1. Zilpo Campground, Cave Run Lake

On an eight-thousand-acre lake surrounded by Daniel Boone National Forest in northeastern Kentucky, this campground ranks high with family campers. Hiking trails through rocky forest land and trips to historic sites like a nineteenth century iron smelting furnace and the last fire tower remaining in the national forest keep things interesting. It’s also an excellent place to fish, with two modern marinas and lively populations of muskie and largemouth bass.

Campground Details: electric hookups, centrally located drinking water and dump station, showers and flush toilets, swimming beach, camp store.

  1. Pleasant Ridge Campground, Yatesville Lake State Park
Yatesville Lake State Park, Kentucky

Yatesville Lake State Park, Kentucky

This classic Kentucky state park combines golfing, fishing, boating and RV camping in the lush scenery of the Eastern Kentucky foothills. Pleasant Ridge Campground is small enough to offer an intimate camping experience while still offering easy access to the marina, hiking trails and golf course.

Campground Details: lakeside campsites, full hook-ups, showers, laundry room, playground, dump station.

  1. The Narrows Campground, Barren River Lake

About two hours south of Louisville near Bowling Green, ten-thousand-acre Barren River Lake is well worth discovering by RV. The Narrows Campground is perfect for RVers bringing the boat along, thanks to its proximity to one of the lake’s marinas. Anglers will want to explore the many creeks feeding into this lake for the chance to catch bass, crappie and channel cats. The campground is also adjacent to Lindsey Nature Trail, so plan time to go wildlife watching in the woods.

Campground Details: water and electric sites, boat launch, dump station, showers and restrooms, playground, swimming area. 

  1. Dog Creek Campground, Nolin River Lake

Right next door to Mammoth Cave National Park in southcentral Kentucky, Nolin River Lake is a favored destination for paddlers and fishermen. Set up camp at Dog Creek Campground, a comfortable spot well-situated for putting a canoe or kayak in the water. You’ll also find boat launches nearby if you’re going out in a larger boat in search of walleye or crappie. The Green River ferry into the national park is close by, so don’t miss the chance to do a little cave exploring while you’re camped here.

Campground Details: electric hookups, drinking water available, showers & restrooms, dump station, pull-thru sites, playground, swimming beach, boat ramp.

  1. Kincaid Lake State Park Campground

Looking for a place where you can rent a boat and troll your way around a small lake with the kids? Kincaid Lake State Park in northeastern Kentucky offers camping families a wooded campground, small no-wake fishing lake, mini-golf, a 9-hole golf course and access to hiking trails. The full-service marina makes it easy to buy fishing supplies, rent small watercraft and get out on the water as soon as you get there.

Campground Details: electric & water sites, dump station, showers and restrooms, playground, camp store, marina.

  1. Carter Caves State Resort Park Campground

There’s no more fascinating way to keep cool in the heat of summer than with a subterranean tour of one of Kentucky’s many caves. Carter Caves State Resort Park’s campground allows you to camp in comfort near the entrances to two of this cavern-rich area’s most famous caves. Take the cave tours and explore the rugged beauty of the area on the park’s many trails. The kids will enjoy the campground’s pool and planned activities throughout the summer.

Campground Details: water & electric pull-thru sites, dump station, bathhouse, playground, mini golf, swimming pool.

We hope this list gets your Kentucky RV camping vacation off to a good start. As always, we’re here to help, with a Louisville RV rental closest to these campgrounds!

Photo attribution:  By U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Huntington District – http://www.lrh.usace.army.mil/projects/lakes/ybc/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10896597

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RV Camping While Hiking and Climbing Kentucky’s Red River Gorge

About two hours east of Louisville, Kentucky is a place all RV travelers who enjoy hiking and rock climbing should explore. Red River Gorge Geological Area is tucked within the high ridges, riverfront cliffs and green expanses of Daniel Boone National Forest.

Camping there is easy, thanks to private and state park campgrounds throughout the forest, and miles of hiking trails and climbing routes are waiting to be traversed.

What RV Travelers Will Find at Red River Gorge

RV travelers have an easy route to the Gorge from the west, following I-64 east from Louisville into the national forest. If you’re coming from the east, follow I-81 W out of Roanoke, VA about five hours, to where the Red River meanders through an awe-inspiring limestone gorge.

Once you reach Daniel Boone National Forest, you’ll find a variety of natural wonders Daniel Boone National Forestworth exploring both in and around Red River Gorge. Picture a place where limestone arches and stunning, windswept cliffs rise up out of dense hardwood forest and you’ve got an idea what awaits you on your trip.

A favorite spot of Kentucky RV campers is Natural Bridge State Resort Park adjacent to the Gorge. The park is named for an enormous sandstone arch that’s easy to discover via well-maintained hiking trails. Motorhome travelers will also find electric campsites, a small lake perfect for paddling and plenty of family friendly activities there.

Climbing and Hiking at Red River Gorge

For campers hoping to put in some time rappelling or climbing, there’s no place better than Red River Gorge. Rock climbing opportunities abound among the ‘knobs’, cliffs and crags of ‘The Red’. Areas like The Motherlode, Torrent Falls and Military Wall offer dozens of climbing routes for a range of experiences.

Bring your own equipment or book the services of an area climbing guide to make the most of sport and traditional climbing opportunities while camping near Red River Gorge.

Need a little more incentive to pack the RV and head for Kentucky? The hiking available around the Red River Gorge is unparalleled, thanks to the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail that acts as the central hub of the area’s trail system.

Whether you plan to make several day hikes on your RV camping trip to Red River Gorge or follow the entire three-hundred-mile length of the Sheltowee Trace Trail, the scenery found along the ridges, waterways and gorges of central Kentucky will find a place among your favorite vacation memories.

So, what’s holding you back from taking your own RV trip to Kentucky’s Red River Gorge? Affordable RV rentals, easy access by interstate and excellent private and state park campgrounds make this trip one that’s perfect for rock climbing groups, adventurous families and nature-loving campers alike. Take the trip soon, and be sure to let us know in the Comments Section what you loved most about RV camping at Red River Gorge.

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Celebrate National Parks Week with an RV Camping Trip!

With America’s National Parks Week just around the corner, it’s time for RV camping fans to start planning for national park camping. For one hundred years, the National Park Service has managed our country’s most beautiful destinations. In honor of their centennial, from April 16-24, 2016 they’re waiving entrance fees for all national park visitors.

With more than four hundred destinations to choose from, finding the perfect national park for your April camping adventure might seem difficult. Never fear! We’ve gathered tools to help our readers locate national park campsites and attractions from Acadia NP in coastal Maine to California’s Joshua Tree National Park. Ready to plan?

How to Pick Your Next National Park Camping Destination

One of the things we like best about America’s National Park Service is their visitor-friendly attitude. Since 1916, they’ve been refining their outreach to national park visitors to make it easy for anyone to access information on NPS-managed locations.

Finding a park that suits your interests, travel schedule and camping style is simple, with several ways to search and access national park information. The first is through the FindYourPark.com website, a community-engagement resource where national park fans can share information, search for national park locations and learn about ways the NPS connects with communities.

Another excellent resource for national park RV campers is the National Park Service National Park Service website itself. You can search for NPS-managed locations, including national parks, heritage areas, historic sites and monuments, state by state, by using their easy-to-understand search tools. Once you’ve located one or more possible National Parks Week camping destinations, click on each park’s link to access information such as driving directions, things to do, places to see and campground amenities.

What to Expect RV Camping at a National Park

Never camped at a national park campground and wondering what to expect? National Park Service campgrounds run the gamut from no-hookups ‘dispersed camping’ to full-hookups, amenity-rich developed campsites. One note for those who plan to camp during National Parks Week—entrance fees are waived, but campground fees will still apply.

Here are some examples of national park campgrounds, to give you an idea of the range of amenities.

  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area, that water sports wonderland on the Arizona/Nevada border, offers both developed campgrounds run by concessionaires and NPS-run campgrounds with water and dump stations but no hook-ups.
  • The campgrounds at Everglades National Park also offer a range of possibilities, from sites with electric hook-ups only on Florida Bay to ‘dry camping’ sites in a pine forest.
  • Yosemite National Park’s ten campgrounds are located amidst magnificent scenery, but plan ahead because hook-ups aren’t part of the camping amenities.
  • Maine’s vast and scenic Acadia National Park gives RV campers the choice of primitive campsites, electric sites and electric/water sites.
  • The large campground at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park is a beautiful spot without RV hookups but with easy access to the cave’s entrance and miles of above-ground hiking trails.

Ready to Go National Park Camping?

Keep in mind, no matter where you camp in America’s national parks, you can expect scenic wonders, outdoor adventures and interesting people you might never have met otherwise. Don’t those all sound like fantastic reasons to go RV camping during National Parks Week?

One more tool  for planning to camp in your RV at a national park—Recreation.gov offers a wealth of ideas and information on national park vacations, and for those campgrounds that allow reservations, this is the place to reserve your campsites before you go.

Let’s celebrate our country’s National Park Centennial by doing what we love best—camping in a motorhome or trailer.  And be sure to let us know about your national park camping experience in the Comments Section below!

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An Exhilarating RV Excursion in Kentucky

Picture of a Mammoth Cave Tour

Tour of Mammoth Cave

Looking to squeeze a lifetime of Americana, culture, and fun into one week? South-central Kentucky boasts more enviable destinations than most comparable geographic areas in the country. From underground rivers to Civil War battlefields, waterfalls to America’s most iconic automobile, Kentucky offers enough attractions to fill months of travel (or, just relax by a sprawling lake in the rolling hills).

Anchored by the City of Bowling Green and Mammoth Cave National Park, the south-central region has long drawn vacationers who marvel at the state’s most famous natural wonder (after the horses, of course!). But many continue on their way, before getting a chance, to fully experience this rich region.

Each of the stops on this perfect Kentucky itinerary are destinations themselves — don’t hesitate to spend a few days at any one stop. Or, squeeze all of these into a week. Either way, you’ll be amazed at what the bluegrass state has to offer!

If you’re motoring in from the north, east, or south, make your first stop Cumberland Falls State Park. Just a stone’s throw off of I-75, but tucked into the vast wilderness of Daniel Boone State Forest, the falls stretch 125 feet wide and drop 68 vertical feet — they’re easily the largest in Kentucky. Cumberland Falls is most notable, however, for being one of the only places in the world to see a “moonbow,” a rainbow phenomenon that occurs at night when moonlight refracts off of the waterfall’s mist.

The cool, crisp air of late fall is the best time to witness the moonbow phenomenon. Plan your trip around a full moon and enjoy it for nights on end!

In close vicinity to the falls, Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park is both a great place to camp (full hook-ups) and worth a visit itself. Highlights of the 1300-acre park include McHargue’s Mill, a working reproduction of a settlement-era grinding mill, and the seven-building Mountain Life Museum, full of relics from the pioneering days when Kentucky was still the ‘wild west.’

Heading west, just over an hour away is the Perryville Battlefield State Historic Site. The park is a place for quiet reflection — it’s the site of the bloodiest Civil War battle in the state. 7,600 men were wounded or killed in October 1862 (If you can, visit for the annual reenactments). Perryville was the Confederacy’s failed last attempt to take control of Kentucky, and is one of the least-altered battlefields in the nation, offering nearly the same view that soldiers saw when marching onto the field 150 years ago.

Just down the road is a site worthy of quick stopover — the Georgian mansion where the famous American songwriter Stephen Foster penned “My Old Kentucky Home.” Whistle the state song while touring the home and formal gardens at My Old Kentucky Home State Park, which also features a 39-site campground.

It’s time for an obvious highlight of the trip — Mammoth Cave National Park. Consider two days here; one to explore the subterranean wonderland, and one to enjoy the above-ground world away from the crowds. The 6.6-mile out-and-back Turnhole Bend Trail is a favorite of hiking buffs, passing over serene, isolated bluffs and through Kentucky’s last remaining old-growths forests.

When you’re ready to put Mammoth in your rearview, scoot on down to Bowling Green. If you’ve still got the urge to spelunk, Lost River Cave offers an experience unlike any other you’ll find; a cave tour by boat! The sensation of floating down an underground river is a family adventure not to be missed.

After your watery tour, stop into the National Corvette Museum and watch dad drool over the factory where every Corvette is made. Finish this well-rounded day at Bowling Green’s iconic Great American Donut Shop, where you’ll find locals ready to tout their hometown favorite guilty-pleasure ahead of any national chain’s offerings.

For RVers needing to restock, the country’s first Camping World is in Bowling Green. Stop by and pay homage to the best way to travel and see the country, and pick up a few supplies.

Back on the road, return east to finish your south-central Kentucky circuit at one of two gorgeous lakes in the midlands. Green River Lake’s rock shoals feature 1,331 acres of remote public land along Green River Lake State Park, and plenty of room to explore one of the state’s prettiest places, with a full-service 157-site campground. There’s a marina, mini golf, and 28 miles of hiking and biking trails.

Just to the south, the immense Lake Cumberland stretches out over 52,000 acres of water, with 1,225 miles of shoreline. Lake Cumberland State Resort Park is an RV campground on steroids, offering every amenity from rental fishing boats to disc golf to horseshoe riding. An entire week spent just at Lake Cumberland offers enough to entertain the family without end.

Across the entire state, Kentucky offers an endless bounty of history, nature, and family fun. Even in the 300-mile loop of the state’s mid-south described in this post, there are more attractions than room to write about!

Make Bowling Green the base for your next RV adventure, and see how far just a few miles can take you in Kentucky.

Picture credits: The picture of the Mammoth Cave Tour is by Daniel Schwen and is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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Time for an RV Camping Trip to the International Bluegrass Music Museum

On the banks of the Ohio River in Kentucky, with its toes on the Indiana state line, stands a town steeped in bluegrass music history. Owensboro, KY is home to the International Bluegrass Music Museum, where legends of this uniquely American art form are celebrated every day. If combining memorable RV camping with your love of bluegrass sounds like a top ten vacation, it’s time for an RV camping trip to the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

Owensboro is the perfect spot for this museum which, incidentally, also houses the International Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Just down the road are the small towns where Bill Monroe lived and played his exciting new sounds while on the way to becoming the “Father of Bluegrass Music.”

Since the 1930s, when Monroe and his band The Blue Grass Boys, used mandolin, guitar, banjo and fiddle to craft a hauntingly honest blend of music, fans from around the world have recognized Kentucky as the home place of bluegrass. In 1985, the International Bluegrass Music Association was formed to preserve the heritage and art form of bluegrass music, with help from such music greats as Ricky Skaggs and Ralph Stanley.

The result of their efforts was the Museum and Hall of Fame, where exhibits, music camps, education programs and the annual “River of Music Party (ROMP)” share the birth and ongoing joy of bluegrass music with its fans.

Since you’ll be traveling to the epicenter of bluegrass music by RV, we thought we’d also share some suggestions for memorable RV camping. At Diamond Lake Resort in Owensboro, five lakes offer the chance to relax and fish after a day at the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Twenty minutes away in Boonville, Indiana you’ll enjoy Scales Lake Park, a county-run complex that includes a campground, swimming beach, waterpark and petting zoo.

While in the area, also plan to visit Rosine, KY, the birthplace of Bill Monroe. This unpretentious, unincorporated little town houses the graves of Bill Monroe and many members of his family.

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RV Road Trip to Mammoth Cave National Park

The scenic roads of southern Kentucky are an RV road trip destination in themselves. Mix in the wonders of Mammoth Cave National Park and you’ll score big points with RV travelers of any age. Less than two hours north of Nashville and three hours south of Indianapolis on I-65, Mammoth Cave is easy to find and even easier to enjoy.

Once you’ve made your way to the gates of this National Park, plan plenty of time to see everything it has to offer. Not simply the home of enormous underground caverns, Mammoth Cave National Park is a perfect snapshot of Kentucky’s natural beauty.

Mammoth Cave Tours
Let’s start our virtual tour with a visit to the caverns themselves. The National Park Service presents a rotating series of guided cave tours, depending on the season. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Frozen Niagara Tour: This quarter-mile tour enters the cave near an awesome travertine formation known as “Frozen Niagara.” You’ll also see the Crystal Lake, Rainbow Dome and Drapery Room formations on this short visit into the wonders of Mammoth Cave.
  • Grand Avenue Tour: Put on some comfortable walking shoes and plan to stay underground for nearly five hours on this spectacular tour to many of Mammoth Cave’s best sights. It’s a steep climb up and down, so families with small children will want to pick a different tour.
  • Historic Tour: Hearty cave explorers will want to take this two-mile walking tour past attractions such as Mammoth Dome, Broadway Avenue and the Bottomless Pit. This hike requires climbing more than four-hundred steps, and takes you into the lowest level of the caverns.
  • Violet City Lantern Tour: This three-mile, three-hour tour by lantern light will transport you back to the early days of the Cave’s exploration. No better way to get a feel for the enormity of Mammoth Cave and its significance in history.

There are also tours for the truly serious cave explorer and ways to glimpse some of the area’s underground wonders for persons with disabilities.

Mammoth Cave Area Attractions
In addition to spectacular sights below ground, Mammoth Cave National Park features numerous natural attractions to explore. The Green River cuts through the heart of the Park (consider taking the historic rural ferry ride) and provides plenty of sights worth hiking for. Of special interest: Green River Bluffs overlook, Cedar Sink and Sand Cave. More than two dozen trails reveal their secrets to hikers throughout the National Park.

RV Camping at Mammoth Cave National Park
The wooded hills within the National Park’s boundaries enhance your vacation experience by providing picturesque campgrounds. Motorhome campers will find campsites both rustic and well-equipped at Mammoth Cave National Park. Visit the Mammoth Cave National Park website for more information about campground reservations.

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