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Kentucky Adventure Awaits

There’s something transformative about wild and natural spaces that can add both energy and reflection to the spirit of a trip. And those spaces abound in Kentucky.

From peaceful natural havens to exciting places to commune with the great outdoors, these Bluegrass State destinations offer fun and unique outdoor activities for groups. 

Corbin 

“If you’re an outdoor adventure enthusiast, we have got it,” said Maggy Monhollen, executive director at Corbin Tourism. The Kentucky town smack dab in between Knoxville and Lexington owes its outdoor credentials to the stunning public treasures to its west: Cumberland Falls State Resort Park in the Daniel Boone National Forest. There, visitors can be awed by the eponymous cascades known as the Niagara of the South. Have night owls in your group? If there’s a full or nearly full moon, make the pilgrimage after dark to the falls, one of only two places in the world where you can see a mysterious nighttime rainbow illuminated by lunar magic, known as a moonbow. 

What makes this southeastern Kentucky town an ideal outdoor group destination? For starters, the trail to the falls is 100% accessible. 

“I’d take everyone out to Cumberland Falls to see their beauty,” Monhollen said. “The paved path is short and leads to a viewing platform.”

Depending on the fitness level of your group, Dog Slaughter Falls and Bark Camp Cascades are good choices, too. 

“They’re just breathtaking. Waterfalls nestled inside the Daniel Boone National Forest? It’s awesome,” Monhollen said. 

On the night of the full moon, as well as the two before and after, take your group to see Corbin’s mysterious moonbow. Mother Nature created this strange gift with the orientation of the moon in the sky and the mist from Cumberland Falls. 

“We get people from all over the world who come to the park to see the moonbow,” Monhollen said. “Moonbow nights are always busy. The best time to see them is in the winter; the atmospheric pressure changes and the conditions are clear.” 

corbinkytourism.com

Morehead 

Just an hour east of Lexington in the Eastern Highlands region of the state, Morehead’s vast network of explorable forests has earned it the designation of a Kentucky Trail Town. 

“We’re nestled in the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest,” said Paige Swartz, Morehead-Rowan County Tourism’s visitor operations director. “So the landscape is carved with family-friendly hikes, unique rock formations and everything in between.”

Morehead is a small community with a big outdoor draw, starting with the northern part of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The forest has plenty of hiking and walking trails with varying levels of difficulty and accessibility. And at the northern end of the national forest is Cave Run Lake, which lets groups tailor their experiences to their personalities. Need a place for calm and quiet reflection? Cave Run Lake is an ideal place. Long for adventure, speed and excitement? Cave Run Lake is perfect for boating, viewing wildlife and hunting, to name a few activities visitors enjoy.

Do you have any birders in your group? Morehead’s Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery and Shallow Flats Wildlife Viewing area offer accessible bird watching, a fish viewing pool, nice hikes and the chance to see a variety of wildlife, Swartz said.

moreheadtourism.com

Bowling Green 

Where can you explore a cave system and yet remain in town? Bowling Green, Kentucky. 

“Everything in Bowling Green is super close,” said Nora Bryant, communications director for Visit Bowling Green. “Everyone is surprised to learn the Lost River Cave is still very much in the city; it’s smack in the middle. When you’re in the cave you’re under a very large intersection, and you’d never know it.”

Bowling Green sits near the seam where the Highland Rim and the Shawnee Hills regions come together in south central Kentucky.

Before you write off this activity, rest assured that experiencing Bowling Green belowground doesn’t involve rappelling with headlamps from inside a bat-lined cavern. 

Cave exploration and other outdoor activities for any level are plentiful in Bowling Green. 

“I highly suggest a boat tour and the trails at Lost River Cave,” Bryant said. “Baker Arboretum is also a wonderful choice, accompanied by the Downing Museum, which is also located on the grounds. And of course, Mammoth Cave. They have many tours that are great for any level of physicality.”

Those cave formations that Bowling Green is famous for are due to the karst region in south central Kentucky where the city was built. Karst  — a type of porous bedrock — is responsible for the caves and underground streams that attract visitors year-round. Groups can explore them by foot or even boat in Bowling Green. 

visitbgky.com

Prestonsburg

Wildlife viewing, engaging with pioneer women or firing Civil-War replica arms are just a few outdoor activities in store for group travelers in Prestonsburg, Kentucky. 

“Prestonsburg is a terrific getaway for those looking to experience both the thrill and calming peace of the great outdoors,” said Samantha Johnson, executive director of Prestonsburg Tourism.

Sighting wild elk in the Star City of Eastern Kentucky could be the highlight for your group on their next trip. The region around Prestonsburg is home to one of the largest elk populations in the country, and the town offers plenty of elk viewing from September to March for visitors keen to catch a glimpse. “It’s like a little taste of the West in the East,” Johnson said.

Prime viewing of the elk takes place with park naturalists from the nearby Jenny Wiley State Resort Park. There, with the naturalists as your group’s guide, your guests will learn about the history and ecology of the species as well as how to make their unique calls. 

Next head to the park’s theater, where plays explore the famous capture and escape of pioneer woman Jenny Wiley from among local native tribes. 

Finally, while in Prestonsburg, visitors can explore the Middle Creek National Battlefield. This particular battle is often referred to as “the battle that launched a presidency.” Col. James Garfield, who would later become president of the United States, led his Union troops to victory on a cold January day. Period reenactors bring the site to life. Groups have the chance to fire one of the civil war-era replica guns.

prestonsburgky.org

Campbellsville

Getting sun and fresh air from a trip to Campbellsville is simple. 

“That’s one of the good things about Campbellsville,” said Julie Dennis, interim director of the Taylor County Tourism Commission. “There’s great city life with restaurants and shopping, but in a matter of minutes you can be out in the country, and you feel like you’re away from civilization.”

Many visitors come to Campbellsville to put a line in the water. The tourism office can help organize guided fishing expeditions for groups.

“A lot of people think of bass fishing, catfishing or fishing for walleye on Green River Lake,” Dennis said. “But when you pull a monster muskie out of the lake, that’s all you need. Everyone loves the muskies.” 

After spending some time on the water, many travelers also make time to visit the area’s historic attractions. Taylor County is rich with Civil War history. Visitors can step back in time while visiting battlefields, toll gates or the Atkinson-Griffin Log House. There, visitors will notice the bloodstains still marring the floor of an upstairs bedroom. 

“I’m no historian, but it’s amazing how many contacts we get a week with people wanting to tour the historical sites,” Dennis said. “I’m amazed by it.” 

campbellsvilleky.com

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