The Bluegrass State. Home of the Kentucky Derby, Louisville Slugger, Mammoth Cave, and KFC.
With 45 state parks, two national parks, and second only to Alaska for the number of miles of running water, there is plenty to see and do in Kentucky. But where do you stay while you’re exploring?
Let’s take a look at the 16 Best Places to go camping in Kentucky.
Best Campgrounds in Northern Kentucky
1. Big Bone Lick State Historic Site
Big Bone Lick is in Union, Kentucky, about 30 minutes south of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is named Big Bone Lick because of the salt springs and the bones of mammoths and mastodons found here.
What you’ll find is a free museum displaying the fossils of the animals found in this area, as well as a diorama pit. You can also get an up close and personal view of the live bison herd.
If museums aren’t quite what you’re looking for while camping in Kentucky, you’re in luck. Big Bone Lick has 40 acres to explore.
You’ll find 4.5 miles of trails, miniature golf, birding, tennis, orienteering, and fishing. You’re also very close to Cincinnati, Ohio, where there are plenty of attractions and restaurants.
There are 62 camping sites at this well-maintained park, with a pool and playground. Laundry, shower, and restrooms are available at a central location.
2. General Butler State Park
With 790 acres to explore, you’re sure to find something to do while camping in Kentucky at General Butler in Carrollton.
Their year-round campground has 100 camping sites with utilities and grills. There are two areas with showers and restrooms, as well as a centrally located laundry facility.
If you enjoy military history, you’ll love the Butler-Turpin Home Museum, where they showcase documents and other memorabilia from this military family.
There are also plenty of activities like boating, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing on their 30-acre lake. There is also a pool, miniature golf, a 4.5-mile biking trail, and more.
In the evening, head up to the lodge and listen to the beautiful piano music as you relax, enjoy the view, and reminisce about your day exploring this area where the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers meet.
3. Blue Licks Battlefield State Park
Next on our list of places for camping in Kentucky is a memorial to the final battle of the American Revolutionary War. Blue Lick Battlefield is a 148-acre park located near Mt. Olivet.
The campground at Blue Licks is only open March-November, so be sure to plan accordingly. There are 51 campsites with water and electric hookups.
Besides camping, you can enjoy birding, hiking, miniature golf, picnicking, and playgrounds. Blue Licks Battlefield also has a pioneer museum with mastodon bones and Kentucky artifacts for your exploration.
If you enjoy flowers, be sure to visit the 15-acre nature preserve. Here you’ll see the federally-endangered Short’s Goldenrod, as well as the state-threatened Great Plains Ladies tresses.
When you’re looking for a unique souvenir to take home to remember your stay, look no further than their lodge gift shop. Here you’ll find items handcrafted items by local artisans.
4. Kincaid Lake State Park
This 850-acre park includes the 183-acre Kincaid Lake, where you can boat, pedal boat, kayak, canoe, fish, and enjoy Kentucky camping from March through November.
The campground has 84 open woodland sites. So, you can see the stars at night and enjoy the shade of the trees during the day.
The sites have electric and water hookup. There is a grocery and a centrally located service room with showers and restrooms.
The beach at Kincaid Lake is gone. In its place, they now have a lakeside pool. All the fun of the water without the fishy smell and sandy feet.
Best Campgrounds in Eastern Kentucky
1. Carter Caves State Park
If your idea of camping in Kentucky involves horses, check out Carter Caves, located in Olive Hill.
Carter Caves has all the options: RV camping, tent, equestrian, primitive, and even backcountry camping. There’s bound to be a style of camping that suits your needs.
This park has miniature golf and hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, swimming, and tennis. But, if you really want some adventure, try exploring the caves or trying your hand at gem mining.
If you have the necessary experience, rappelling and rock climbing are available by permit only.
Is fishing more your style? The 45-acre Smoky Lake is Kentucky’s first trophy bass lake. The park even has a fishing loaner program in case you forget to bring your pole. A fishing license is required.
Carter Caves, as the name would imply, has several caves to explore as well as five natural bridges. There’s even a flashlight-guided cave tour for your spelunking pleasure!
2. Natural Bridge State Park
Natural Bridge, located in Slade, is home to the natural sandstone arched bridge that spans 78 feet and is 65 feet high. If you’re not fond of heights, don’t worry, there are also 22 miles of trails and a 60-acre lake for your to enjoy.
This park actually has two campgrounds to consider, with 86 sites for tents and campers. Restrooms and showers are available in the two service buildings.
Don’t want to hike up to the Natural Bridge? There’s a skylift to take you on a mile journey through the treetops. After enjoying the gorgeous views, you can choose to hike back down, or hop back on the skylift.
3. Grayson Lake State Park
Grayson Lake, also located in Olive Hill, is a 1512-acre reservoir that is home to bluegill, bass, crappie, and catfish. A fishing license is required, and equipment can be borrowed from the Campground Ticket Booth.
Grayson Lake offers a 71-site full-service campground with utility hookups and a dump station. They also have centrally located restrooms, showers, and a laundry facility.
Canoeing, boating, and kayaking are available. Be on the lookout for waterfalls and sandstone canyons.
If hiking is more your style while camping in Kentucky, there are a few options here, including the Lick Falls Overlook. You can also check out some unique sandstone formations, like the “lizard head.”
If you enjoy golfing, be sure to pack the clubs and play a round at The Hidden Cove Golf Course.
4. Greenbo Lake State Park
Greenbo Lake is located in Greenup, and is home to the 225-acre Greenbo Lake.
This park has 103 camping sites nestled along Clay Lick Creek. The sites range from primitive to equestrian to full-service sites. They also have three dumping stations and shower and restroom facilities at this Kentucky camping facility.
As you can imagine, fishing is a favorite pastime, but you can also scuba dive in Greenbo Lake, as long as you meet all the requirements.
This park also has an outdoor theater and 16 miles of mountain biking trails for your enjoyment.
5. Yatesville Lake State Park
Looking for primitive camping in Kentucky that you can only access by boat? Look no further than Yatesville Lake in Louisa.
This seasonal park features 47 camping sites, with 16 of them located on the lake and only accessible by boat, as well as four hike-in tent sites.
If golfing is on your list of things to do, the Yatesville Lake Golf Course has mountainous terrain and gorgeous views, oh, and an 18-hole, 71-par course.
Best Campgrounds in Southern Kentucky
1. Dale Hollow State Park
Located in Burkesville, Kentucky, Dale Hollow is a 28,000-acre lake that has 145 campsites, 24 of which are set aside for equestrian camping.
Along with an 18-hole golf course, plenty of water activities, and 15 miles of hiking trails, Dale Hollow also offers a motorcycle ride trail. This park also offers an ADA-compliant miniature golf course.
However, if you want to go exploring and get muddy and wet while camping in Kentucky, check out Cindy Cave. When they offer a helmet, lights, and knee pads, you know you’re going to have an adventure!
This park has beautiful views, full hookups, and a bathhouse with laundry facilities. The nearest shopping area is about 20 miles away, so be sure to stock up on groceries before you head out.
2. Nolin Lake State Park
If you’re visiting Mammoth Cave National Park and want a place to go camping in Kentucky that is fairly close by that has water and electric hookups, Nolin Lake is a great option. Mammoth Cave is about 25 minutes away if you take the Green River Ferry or 45 minutes if you don’t.
Nestled along the shoreline of the 5,795-acre Nolin Lake, the campground has 32 standard sites, 27 primitive sites, and one group overflow site. There is no bathhouse or dump station at the park.
There is a 9.2-mile hiking/biking trail that is considered a moderate trail, so be prepared. This park is known for its beautiful lake views, which include a beach and watching the waterfowl, as well as fishing.
3. Green River Lake State Park
Ready to hike, bike, or horseback while camping in Kentucky? Green River Lake has all that and more with its 28 miles of all-purpose trails in Campbellsville.
This campground has 227 water and electric sites, with 60 primitive tent sites. Unfortunately, none of the sites are equestrian-friendly.
The sites are not full hookups, but there is a dump station.
At Green River Lake, you can also enjoy fishing, boating, miniature golf, and volleyball.
4. Barren River Lake State Park
Another option for Kentucky camping when visiting Mammoth Cave National Park is Barren River Lake.
This park is located in Lucas, Kentucky, about 30 miles south of Mammoth Cave. It has 99 sites, most of which are electric only. There are a few that are full hookups.
There are two bathhouses with restrooms and shower and dump stations nearby. They also have laundry facilities and a playground.
In addition to boating, fishing, and golf, Barren River Lake also has a paved hiking and biking trail, orienteering, and shuffleboard.
Best Campgrounds in Central and Western Kentucky
1. Fort Boonesborough State Park
Located in Richmond, Fort Boonesborough has a living museum where you can interact with the residents, purchase handmade items from the gift shop, and explore life in 1775, all while enjoying camping in Kentucky.
This was where Daniel Boone and his men set up the second settlement in Kentucky, so there’s plenty of history to be explored.
The campground is open year-round and has 166 sites with electricity and water and 18 sites with full hookups. They also have two bathhouses with restrooms and showers. There are three dump stations at the campground.
In addition to the fully reconstructed working fort, Fort Boonesborough also offers fishing, hiking, birding, and miniature golf.
2. Taylorsville Lake State Park
Here’s another Kentucky camping park to consider if you’re a mountain biker, hiker, or horseback rider. With its 24-mile multi-use trails, Taylorsville Lake offers beautiful views and plenty of activities, from birding to boating. They even have an orienteering course.
The campground has 45 sites with water and electricity hookups, 15 primitive tent sites, and ten equestrian sites with water and electricity.
There are two bathhouses with showers and restrooms, a laundry room, and three dump stations.
3. Columbus-Belmont State Park
Located in Columbus, Columbus-Belmont is a 156-acre site that was also the site of General Grant’s first battle and is full of Civil War history.
This year-round spot for Kentucky camping, overlooking the Mississippi River, has 38 sites with water and electricity. There is a centrally located bathhouse with shower and bathrooms, and a laundry facility. This park does not have a dump station.
There is a 2.5-mile self-guided hiking trail through the Civil War earthworks.
One unique item you have to see is the anchor and chain that was strategically placed by Union soldiers across the Mississippi River to keep Union ships from navigating the river.
Other Things to Consider
While camping in Kentucky, there may be a few other things that are important to keep in mind for an enjoyable time.
Kentucky has a strict firewood policy. Everything you need to know can be found on the Kentucky Parks website.
Pets are not allowed in any historic sites, State Nature Preserves, or archaeological areas.
As you probably noticed, most of the campgrounds are on lakes. A Kentucky Fishing license is required and can be purchased through the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Water and Electric Hookups
When packing for your Kentucky camping trip, if you plan to use the water and electric hookups, be sure to throw in an extra hose and extension cord. Several of the sites share hookups.
Also, keep in mind that water is not always available, even if a campground is open year-round.
While most campsites can be reserved online, that’s not the case if you want an equestrian site. Those sites are only available by calling the campground directly.
Wrapping up Camping in Kentucky
With so many historical sites to visit, caves to explore, and waterways to traverse, there is no lack of things to do in Kentucky.
After you’ve explored all that Kentucky has to offer, check out our list of other State Park Campsites to visit.