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12 Best State Parks in Kentucky with Best Picnic spots

Kentucky is one of the most lively of the places one can visit in the United States of America. By all means, it might not boast of the tallest skyscrapers or the Hollywood lifestyle, the sweet southeastern state has plenty to offer in other ways. Besides the horse racing and the basketball, Kentucky is home to numerous landscapes, forests, caves, natural formations and so much more. Mother nature at its peak is spread all over the 104,659 km sq. area of Kentucky. In fact, a big part of the natural attraction of this state lies in the state parks you can find here. There is a total of 45 state parks in Kentucky all of which present a great opportunity for adventurers and wanderers to explore new landscapes.

In summary, a state park is just like a national park with the difference being that these parks are managed by their respective state governments. The main motive behind the creation and management of a state park is to preserve the natural beauty of a landscape and showcase its various aspects. So if you are visiting Kentucky or already live here and want to check out some of the most beautiful views and sceneries, one of these state parks needs to be on your bucket list. 

Plain State Parks and Historical Sites in Kentucky

Fort Boonesborough State Park

Fort Boonesborough State Park - state parks in Kentucky

Fort Boonesborough was founded by American pioneer Daniel Boone in 1775 on the 1st of April. The original fort has been recreated on the bank of the Kentucky river in Fort Boonesborough State Park. Spread across 352 acres, this is one of the best state parks in Kentucky to visit for anyone interested in American history. Aside from beautiful views, visitors can also take part in various history programs and camping subsequently.

Area: 1.42 ha
Timings: 7 AM-9 PM
Contact: +1 859-527-3131
Location: 4375 Boonesboro Rd, Richmond, KY 40475, US (Get Directions)

E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park

E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park - state parks in Kentucky

E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park is named after the late great Jefferson County Judge and Executive Erbon Powers “Tom” Sawyer. With 550 acres of landscape to explore, you will find yourself surrounded by greenery and nature at every step. You can also involve yourself in various available activities and play games like tennis, soccer, softball, etc on designated courts and fields. 

Timings: 7:30 AM-10 PM
Contact: +1 502-429-7270
Location: 3000 Freys Hill Rd, Louisville, KY 40241, US (Get Directions)

“Also Check: 30 Best Tennessee State Parks: Wonderful Parks in Tennessee

Columbus Belmont State Park

Columbus Belmont State Park - state parks in Kentucky

With hundreds of positive reviews and an impressive 4.7-star rating on Google, the Columbus Belmont State Park is a fan favorite in KY state parks. Based on the shores of the Mississippi River across 156 acres, the Columbus Belmont park tells a fascinating story of the American Civil War. From the giant cannon Lady Pol to trails and a museum, there’s plenty to take in here.

Timings: 24 Hours
Contact: +1 270-677-2327
Location: 350 Park Road, Columbus, KY 42032, US (Get Directions)

Old Fort Harrod State Park

Old Fort Harrod State Park

The Old Fort Harrod might not be among the biggest state parks, having an area of just over 15 acres, but it will be right up the alley of any history geek. The state park boasts of a full-scale recreation of Fort Harrod. The original was built in 1774 and was Kentucky’s very first permanent American settlement. There’s plenty to go through at the park like a museum and temples and monuments. 

Timings: 9 AM-5 PM
Contact: +1 859-734-3314
Location: 100 S College St, Harrodsburg, KY 40330, US (Get Directions)

Mountain State Parks in Kentucky

Kingdom Come State Park

Kingdom Come State Park - state parks in Kentucky

If you like mountains, you will love Kingdom Come. Set up at an elevation of 2,700 ft. Kingdom Come is arguably the best mountain state park you can find in Kentucky. With 1,283 acres of space, there’s a lot of hiking and biking to do. Kingdom Come is home to a variety of wildlife too including black bears, foxes, hawks, rabbits, and more. 

Timings: 8:30 AM-5 PM
Contact: +1 606-589-2478
Location: 502 Park Rd, Cumberland, KY 40823, US (Get Directions)

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Pine Mountain State Resort Park - state parks in Kentucky

If you like hiking and are also looking for state parks in Kentucky with cabins, then you’ve hit the jackpot here. Set in Pineville, this park has everything to offer for its visitors from an adventurous hike trail to the majestic Laurel Cove amphitheater. You can even play golf and thereafter enjoy fine dining and drinks. 

Contact: +1 606-337-3066
Location: 1050 State Park Rd, Pineville, KY 40977, US (Get Directions)

“Also Check: 17 Best State Parks in Illinois That Offer you Great Views

River State Parks in Kentucky

Barren River Lake State Park

Barren River Lake State Park

With nearly two thousand reviews on Google and a rating of 4.5 stars, there is no doubt that people love Barren River Lake State park. In fact, if you love being by the riverside, this is undeniably your paradise due to being based around the 10k acre-long Barren river. The park itself encompasses 1,053 acres of space. Boating, skiing, fishing, you can do anything here. 

Contact: +1 270-646-2151
Location: 1149 State Park Rd, Lucas, KY 42156, US (Get Directions)

Kincaid Lake State Park

Kincaid Lake State Park

Spread over 850 acres of area, there is tonnes of fun to have at the Kincaid Lake State Park. This park is open to the public the whole year round since its creation in 1963. The park is named after Kincaid Lake and is located near Pendleton County’s Falmouth. The Kincaid Lake is perfect for activities like swimming, fishing, and boating. 

Timings: 8 AM-11 PM
Contact: +1 859-654-3531
Location: 565 Kincaid Park Road, Falmouth, KY 41040, US (Get Directions)

Paintsville Lake State Park

Paintsville Lake State Park - state parks in Kentucky

Located in the west of Johnson County’s Paintsville, the Paintsville Lake State Park is another fan-favorite destination. The park covers an area of around 242 acres and offers its visitors an array of fun activities to spend a good time. You can fish in the lake, have a picnic at the campsites, and enjoy a good meal at its restaurant all while surrounding yourself with greenery and a great view. 

Timings: 24 Hours
Contact: +1 606-297-8486
Location: 1551 Kentucky Rte 2275, Staffordsville, KY 41256, US (Get Directions)

Nolin Lake State Park

Nolin Lake State Park - state parks in Kentucky

Nolin Lake State Park is based around the Nolin river lake reservoir that covers around 5,795 acres of area. The park itself is pretty big with 333 acres of space to its name. You can go camping, biking, swimming, or just spend time enjoying the wildlife displays. The park is basically open all year round for you to visit. 

Timings: 24 Hours
Contact: +1 270-286-4240
Location: 2998 Brier Creek Rd, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259, US (Get Directions)

Green River Lake State Park

Green River Lake State Park

Green River Lake State Park is undeniably one of the biggest state parks in all of Kentucky. In essence, there are 1,331 acres of nature in all its glory for every visitor to take in. You can rent boats for boating and fishing in the Green River Lake. Or just opt for a fun horse ride in its plains. 

Timings: 24 Hours
Contact: +1 270-465-8255
Location: 179 Park Office Rd, Campbellsville, KY 42718, US (Get Directions)

Taylorsville Lake State Park

Taylorsville Lake State Park

Taylorsville is one of the most high-rated state parks in Kentucky and you’ll find hundreds of positive reviews online. The major attraction of the Taylorsville Lake State Park is arguably fishing. As has been noted, you can fish for bass, bluegill, and crappies here and spend your day well. Camping, as well as hiking, is available too with nearly 17 miles of hiking trails. 

Timings: 24 Hours
Contact: +1 502-477-0086
Location: 1320 Park Rd, Mt Eden, KY 40046, US (Get Directions)

How many state parks are there in Kentucky?

There’s a total of 45 different state parks to explore and enjoy in Kentucky. 

What different kinds of state parks can you visit in Kentucky?

From lakes to mountains to historical sites, there’s plenty to explore in Kentucky’s state parks.


From a historical fort to a massive river or a skyscraping mountain, Kentucky has a significantly high variety to offer when it comes to state parks. These beautifully preserved monuments of nature have been around for decades. Furthermore, their respective authorities are dedicated to further enhancing the visiting experience as much as they can.

Alongside the viewing, the exploring, and the hiking, every single location mentioned here also ensures of a safe and secure experience. So is the case with leisure and comfort. Many of these state parks have cabins and resorts for you to rest and spend more time in the presence of natural elegance.

When it comes to state parks, Kentucky has a diverse catalog thus you can go for any available option and rest assured of a 10/10 experience. If you can only go for one, your decision can depend on the type of experience you are looking for. In love with history? Have a look at one of the historical sites with years worth of stories and legends.

A mountain state park is the one for you if you are into hiking across long and adventurous trails. For those who want an overnight stay, the availability of such an option can be the decider. All things considered, it’s up to you to decide based upon your personal preference. In either case, all of these 11 state parks can guarantee you a day or more spent well.


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