Are you ready for camping season? There are plenty of campgrounds around the U.S. to choose from. But what about a national forest that includes hiking trails, water activities, and rock climbing?
Read on to learn all about Daniel Boone National Forest camping and outdoor activities!
Daniel Boone National Forest
The Daniel Boone National Forest spans 21 counties in the state of Kentucky. It has over 708,000 acres of national forest within its system with a 2.1 billion proclamation boundary.
With over 600 miles of trails to hike, two federally recognized wildernesses, and more than 250 recreation sites in which to camp, this national forest has everything you need to make your next camping trip extraordinary!
There are three main districts and a recreational area in which to camp. Read on to learn which will be best for your family on your next camping trip.
The Cumberland District of Daniel Boone National Forest has RV camping, group camping, individual campgrounds, and cabin camping.
The main office is located in the Cave Run Lake area. Here you will find maps and other information that will come in handy during your trip. This is also the district office for Cumberland Ranger District.
Cave Run Lake
This area is located in northeast Kentucky, and the closest town is Morehead.
Cave Run Lake has 8,270 acres of lake with campsites, RV camping, and beach areas for swimming.
Twin Knobs Recreation Area
This is one of the most popular camping areas within the national forest, with a 700-acre campground and 200 campsites for RV and tent camping.
Amenities include drinking water, toilets, and shower bathhouses. There are three group-use areas available.
There are also volleyball courts, basketball courts, boat ramps, and boat trailer parking available. The nearby beach has designated swimming areas.
The Twin Knobs store has food, wood, ice, and other amenities for purchase. The fees for beach use and camping vary. The season lasts from March – November.
White Sulphur Horse Camp
This primitive campground is perfect for horseback riders! With 50 miles of trails to ride or hike, this area is a good spot for individuals and groups.
The fees vary depending on the time of year and whether you will be camping or just spending a day there. Amenities include toilets for persons with disabilities, and picnic tables.
Bring your own drinking water to this location. Picket lines and watering troughs for horses are also available at this site.
Zilpo Recreation Area
This area covers 355 acres of campground and is considered one of the best campgrounds in Daniel Boone National Forest. Both tent and RV camping are allowed.
There are also rental cabins that sleep seven. These come with beds, a table, a wheelchair-accessible ramp, and picnic tables. Bathrooms and water are available near the bathhouse.
This campground has hiking and jogging trails, a boat ramp, and a country store to purchase food and other necessities. Swimming is allowed in designated areas at the beach.
Cabins and campsites must be reserved ahead of time. All fees vary. The season extends from March – October.
Other campgrounds in the area include the Claylick Boat-In Campground and Clear Creek Campgrounds.
Red River Gorge Geological Area
This area is well-known for its gorgeous scenery, hiking, camping, and water activities.
Koomer Ridge Campground: This campground is semi-primitive camping. There is access to trails within the Red River Gorge. There are showers and toilets available. No reservations are required to camp here but may fill up early.
Amenities include tent camping, picnic tables, toilets, and drinking water. The fees for this campground vary depending on the time of year and type of camping.
London Ranger District
The London Ranger District of Daniel Boone National Forest features more than 208,000 acres of land. It caters to tent camping, RV camping, and group camping.
Bee Rock Recreation Area
This recreation area has 12 miles of trails located around the campground of the same name that holds 25 campsites. There is a historic Sublimity Bridge that many visitors wish to see. The Rockcastle River is also a popular destination for those who want to fish for smallmouth bass and rock bass. The closest town to this area is London, Kentucky.
Amenities include tent camping, picnic tables, toilets, and drinking water. There are fees required for the campground, and a boat ramp pass must be purchased. The fees are $15 per site or $20 for a double site. The season lasts from April through October.
Laurel River Lake
Laurel River Lake has 5,600 acres of clear water and 200 miles of tree-lined shore. There are many quiet coves for campers to spend some time away. Some favorite things to do in this area are boating, fishing, skiing, and scuba diving. This is considered one of Kentucky’s deepest and cleanest lakes!
Holly Bay Campground
This campground has 75 RV campsites that must be reserved ahead of time. Every site has a paved vehicle pad, gravel tent pad, fire ring, picnic table, and lantern poles. The drive-in sites have electricity and water.
The walk-in tent sites have water access but no electricity.
Public swimming is available at the nearby Laurel River Lake Dam. The boat ramp is for campers only. There is a fish cleaning station located nearby.
Reservations are required for Loops A, D, E, F, and H. Loops B, C, and G are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Fees vary for each Loop. The season runs from April through October.
White Oak Boat-In Campground
This campground has 39 lakeshore campsites, most near the water’s edge with boat moorings available. Each site has a tent pad, picnic table, fire ring, and lantern pole. Water and toilets are centrally located in the campground. The fees are $23 for a single site or $40 for a double site. The campground is open May through September.
There are also the Grove Drive-In Campground and Grove Boat-In Campgrounds available in this area.
The S-Tree Campground is located above Horse Lick Creek. The picnic area features a historic picnic shelter that was built in the 1930s. There are hiking trails accessible from this campground.
This campground cannot handle trailers longer than 25 feet due to space restrictions.
Each site has a tent pad, picnic table, fire ring, and lantern pole. All campsites are first come, first served.
Loop A has two double campsites, and Loop B has two fire circles. Amenities include tent camping and toilets. The fee to camp is $15 per site or $20 for a double site.
Other nearby campgrounds include Little Lick Campground and Turkey Foot Campground.
The Stearns District of Daniel Boone National Forest spans 171,000 acres of land in southeast Kentucky. The terrain is rugged and scenic with narrow ravines and steep ridges. It features RV, dispersed/backcountry, and campground camping.
Barren Fork Horse Camp
This campground is popular with horseback riders. There are miles of trails and a nearby pond for the horses to drink from during their journey. Visitors can fish in the pond, as well.
There are 41 campsites with parking for horse trailers and RVs up to 35 feet. A picnic shelter is available.
Amenities include tent camping, picnic tables, and drinking water. There is a $15 fee for camping overnight. Camping season runs from April – November.
Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail
This trail is considered the backbone of the forest trail system. It begins in northern Kentucky and features old homesteads, oil and gas wells, logging tracts, and remnants of past land use.
The trail route is marked with white diamonds with the image of a turtle. Yellow or red signs will mark private land boundaries that are not to be crossed.
Horses, mountain bikes, and off-highway vehicles are allowed in designated areas only. The forest is rugged and remote with spotty cell service.
Dispersed camping is allowed along the hiking trail. Plan to camp at least 300 feet from the trail.
Activities at Daniel Boone National Forest
Hiking and Biking
There are over 600 miles of Daniel Boone National Forest trails for hiking and backpacking, and for designated areas to bike.
Sky Bridge Trail in the Red River Gorge Geological Area is scenic and paved. The Rock Bridge Trail is more rugged, at 1.4 miles. It’s rated moderate in hiking difficulty and takes visitors past waterfalls.
The Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail allows hiking along the entire trail and mountain bikes are welcome in designated areas.
There are several areas where various water activities are approved. Cave Run Lake allows boating, with 12 ramps for boat launching. Passes must be purchased from a local vendor to launch your boat.
The Red River Gorge Geological Area is a great place to go canoeing.
Rock Climbing and Rappelling
Red River Gorge draws climbers from around the world! The Motherlode and Forest Wall are favorites for visiting climbers. The climbing is appropriate for both beginners and advanced climbers.
Tips for Your Visit
The national forest mixes unpredictably with private property. Be sure to watch for signs so you don’t wander onto restricted property.
Check the rules for each area within the forest before bringing pets.
Be safe and never hike at night to avoid sustaining injuries.
Never camp too close to the edge of a ridge. Be aware of your surroundings before camping for the night.
Black bears do wander throughout the forest. Remember to store your food well so you don’t attract any unwanted visitors!
Plan a Visit to Daniel Boone National Forest
This covers all you need to know about Daniel Boone National Forest camping! When will you plan your trip?
Interested in learning more about camping in national forests? Check out our post on Camping in the Black Hills National Forest for more adventures!