With Kentucky’s 45 state parks, the greatest length of navigable waterways in the lower 48, and the world’s longest cave system, the state of bourbon and horse racing is a dream destination for outdoor lovers. A diverse state with numerous distinct natural regions, Kentucky has a plethora of camping locations. Whether you choose to visit a state park or national forest, you don’t have to look hard to find amazing locations for camping in Kentucky.
For some of the most romantic and rugged landscapes in the state, visit the Red River Gorge in the south. With some of the most spectacular sites for camping in Kentucky, the gorge is a popular destination with visitors and locals alike. Climbers and hikers love the steep and rocky hillsides and cliffs which make the gorge famous. Located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Red River Gorge offers endless overnight options. From dispersed camping in quiet stretches of forest to whimsical treehouse and full-access campgrounds, it’s easy to find the perfect spot to spend the night. Snag a site next to a lake with record-sized muskies and you won’t have to go far to get on the water first thing in the morning.
If you love fishing, visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge is a must. With an abundance of lakes and rivers teeming with fish, it’s an angler’s dream. Enjoy lazy afternoons canoeing on the river or get an adrenaline rush on thrilling rapids. Nature lovers will love the plethora of wildlife and numerous hiking trails that wind through lush shaded forests.
Keep exploring Kentucky’s shaded forests and rugged cliffs in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in southeast Kentucky. Boaters will delight in the park’s large, languorous rivers and quick-flowing streams. Sheer bluffs and rocky gorges characterize the river valleys where water flows over rugged rapids and slows in quiet pools.
There are a variety of options for camping in Kentucky near the Big South Fork, from primitive to developed campgrounds. If you’re travelling with horses, stay in the horse camp, complete with a tack store stocked with essentials. Keep in mind that most parks and campgrounds have a ban on bringing your own firewood to prevent the spread of invasive species. Check with the campground regulations before you come, as some allow collection of wood on the forest floor and other require you to purchase firewood from a ranger. Wherever you choose to stay, with the Dyrt you can be sure to find the best camping in Kentucky.
The campground in tucked in the middle of the state park and seems pretty secluded (no cell service). The primitive camping sites are pretty packed in and don't have a lot of privacy, and not a lot of flat land to set up a tent. $25 a night is a bit steep for the amenities you receive.
The campground is very strict about the rules - you are NOT allowed to gather firewood (of any size - which seems odd to me) but then they are also very strict about what firewood you can bring in. I guess you should plan on buying it there - although they charge $6 a bundle. Another strange thing is that you must have your dogs on a leash at all times. We were literally the ONLY campers there and they still felt the need to enforce this. Our dogs are very friendly and well-behaved. I could understand this if they had gone up to the ranger car, were barking, or not listening to us, but it just seems odd to me to enforce this.
I don't think this would be a park where we will return as it would not have been enjoyable if there had been a lot of other people.
We were able to enjoy the beautiful lake and the fall views.
One last thing to add - there is a cemetery in the middle of the campground which I find a bit creepy!
Much like the name says there are horses but this campground is much more than horses. I noticed that whenever I pulled in the campsites are large and spacious. Great for RVs or tent campers alike. I was very excited to stay in this area based on the location it’s self. This location is close to the Bourbon Trail and very close to Lexington it self and all of the activities that await you while there. Their local he is a mail which mills their own flower with a water wheel that still runs from the early 1900s. My site was Both level and grassy it made for a great night and despite the fact that the camp was pretty full it didn’t seem overly crowded.
Something that sets this place apart from others in the area is long term tent camping!! Yes you read that right, LONG TERM TENT CAMPING! For most of those who travel you know they often offer long term services for those in RVs which provides a discount for staying more than a night or two, but at this campground you as a tent camper can find a location that suits your Kentucky home needs on the road for a day, a week or even a month!
But what does that entail exactly?
This site is really nice, with level sites for RVs or tents, padded grass which is well maintained, nice gravel roads around camp and a river frontage with views which will make you just want to stop and take in the scenery.
When I visited I noticed a lot of people staying here near the weekend were visiting to launch their boats and troll the river fishing for what looked like some pretty large fish. It was pretty cool to see some of the people setting up their campground fish fry, and they were even friendly enough to invite me to join, though I don't eat fish so it didn't really work out that way.
The tent sites were shaded and had several different options, you could choose primitive which is only $17 or for a few dollars more you could have electricity. All sites come with a picnic table and fire ring and a pull in to keep you and your things closely together.
There was a playground and volleyball, but I didn't see anyone using these when I was there. A small camp store has a lot of the essentials in case your forgot something or just needed to pick up a snack. There was also firewood available, a big plus!!
This place is a bit older looking in appearance but it is charming and the owner is very cool. I didn't meet a single person there that wasn't just enjoying life.
- If you are trying to check in the office has kind of strange hours. They are only open until 2 Sunday through Tuesday, not sure why but call in advance if you are running later than this time and want to check in.
- Check their online event schedule! This campground host tailgating for UK so you can find a good tailgate party if you plan in advance, right at your campground!!
- This is nearby the Bourbon Trail as well as so many other places where you will find activities. I was here to check out the Castle (I have attached a few photos) Can't miss this stop!!!
Enjoyed my time staying at Tailwater in Kentucky. It was about an 8hr drive from where I live, so we decided to stay here for a long weekend with friends. We ended up renting out 2 campsite spots to fit 8 of us and luckily we were able to get a spot right next to each other. We had 2 huge 6 person tents, so 4 stayed in one and 4 in the either. We fit comfortably! Thankfully the campsite were fairly large to fit our cars and 2 big tents. The attendants working in the front were super nice and helpful. They helped us find our spots, and then gave us recommendations on where to hike in the mornings. Because we came in the summer, it was pretty busy. The Barren River is right next to the campground and makes for a beautiful day to head down to the river and cool off. The campground is fairly large- I believe it has close to 50 spots. Campground was easy to find, and the signage for the campground was great. Cost was $20 a night per site, so for us it was $40 sense we had 2 sites but we split it 8 ways so it was super cheap. We brought tons of food, and snacks, so at night we just hung around each other- some in hammocks or in chairs and just talked. The hiking was really great- super awesome views. The trails were in such great condition!! Would definitely come back.
Like most, we were here to visit Mammoth Cave National Park. We stayed on the Maple Springs side of the Green River to be closer to the mountain bike trails and are glad we did. The trails were great for both of us and we could ride straight from the campground. If you are in a RV note that you can't go across the ferry with your rig!!! You have to go around the park to access this campground. We are so glad we realized that ahead of time and didn't have to back track. The campground was quiet and we had it completely to ourselves one night. The campground had pit toilets but no shower. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we almost stayed an additional night! If you plan to visit the cave, be sure to book your tour ahead of time. The tours were all sold out when we got there!
Green River is located in Mammoth Cave National Forest near Brownsville, Ky off I65.
This NF is within 30 minutes of my residence and I visit often. You can backcountry camp but first you have to check in at the main area. Then you are pretty free to camp where you want within the guidelines. There are some sites already out there , if you choose to make your own follow “bug protocols”! I messed up and got to suffer through chiggers for a week after our adventure, not fun.
Mammoth offers the cave and Green River of course but many people don’t realize how extensive and unique the hiking areas are. Get a good map and pack your bag you can hike, bike or horseback to several secluded areas that offer a backcountry feel, good for practicing for longer duration hikes. Once you cross the Green River by ferry you are in a whole other world that is not crowded with tourists (usually;)
We set up in chigger central and explored the area which had several small rivulets and a nice little pond that reminded me of some horror movie or other (lol) I saw a family of four and a couple hiking through but otherwise the area was mine.
Stayed at Middle Fork Oct 25, 26, 27 (Thu, Fri, Sat) although we were forced to pay for Sunday too because it was some kind of special weekend having to do with Halloween. IMO this is just a BS way to make more money. The majority of people who do the whole trick or treat and Halloween stuff, do it for kids, and those people most likely have to leave on Sun to go back home for school on Mon. So why be forced to pay for Sunday night?!
Our water spigot sprayed water everywhere when our hose was hooked up. They sent a plumber over who tried to fix it with a wrench and a propane torch which didn't help at all. Fortunately we had no neighbors so we hooked to the other sites spigot. It sprayed too. The next day the campground turned off all the water to the campground, brought in an excavator and were excavating a broken pipe elsewhere in the campground. They didn't bother to let anyone know they were turning off the water, there were probably 5 campers in the entire campground. I wonder if they are aware that if a hot water heater runs out of water, but the heating element stays on, that it can destroy the element?? Fortunately we were there when we ran out of water and turned our water heater off.
The light. The damn 30,000 watt LED security light that lights up the night like a spaceship coming in for a landing, 10 feet behind our site. Forget having the cozy campfire experience, it's like sitting in daylight when that sucker is blasting down on you. The dump station. You have to park your camper on the wrong side of the road, facing uphill into on-coming traffic to dump your tanks, the water spigot to hook up and flush your tanks wasn't working so no water. The girl working at the check-in booth was clueless, saying she "didn't know nuthin about it". And didn't offer to pick up the phone and find out if there was a way to turn the water on. In addition, because we were parked facing uphill our gray water tank wouldn't dump at all. We had to stop at another campground on our way home and pay to dump and flush our tanks.
Overall, this campground was a negative experience and we will not be back.
Let me just say, it is nice to find a campground that not only welcomes tent campers but seems to be designed for them exclusively. This campground is primarily a tent site. There are a handful of RV sites, but over 3/4 of the camp is set up for tents only which makes for a better overall outdoor feel without the humming of generators, the height of large RVs blocking your tree views and the overall feeling the you are squished in next to someone.
The closest campground to the Visitor Center, this campground has narrow roads through camp, flushing toilets and hot showers. Preparing for tent campers, the amenities are vast enough to not feel like you are stuck waiting for a shower because they have not properly accommodated you. It is a great feeling to have.
Seasonally there is a small camp store which offers ice and firewood along with some basic items. I even picked up an ice cream here on a hot evening.
My site was $20 and was well shaded, almost nestled into the trees.I was in site 46 which was on the bend and seemed a bit closer to other campers, yet I still had plenty of space for my activities as a solo camper. Had I have been in a larger group or even not camping as a single I might have opted for a site a bit further around the loop.
If you are a senior and have an access pass you can present this when booking and get 1/2 off your site.
Look at the campground map in advance, you wlll be happy to have done so when looking for larger sites or sites which offer pull through options.
Mammoth Cave has several camping options depending on what type of camping you enjoy. I decided to check out several of those to get a full understanding of just what all was out there. Amongst these options are permitted backcountry camps which are hike in camps accessed by free permits.
To get one of the permits you must register with a valid ID and the make and model of your vehicle. This keep unattended vehicles from being towed from parking areas. Camps are as close as half a mile from public use camping areas but scatter over a vast area. They are large enough for groups but also accessed by individuals.
I hiked out to the first of the group camps positioned on my map, which was given to me at the Visitor Center when I registered, no one appeared to be there so I checked it out fully and determined it was perfect for what I needed. There were plenty of trees for coverage or for those wanting to set up a hammock. Fire rings are located at each of the sites and they have been very minimally cleared making for a great area to set up a tent or several small tents.
The first camp is not very deep into the backcountry, yet is still very quiet and perfect for someone who wants a little adventure without a full day of hiking just to get to camp. There was a nearby flow of water and you could use a lifestraw or purification tabs for converting this water, however they do recommend you bring your own water to drink.
All in all, of the backcountry camps I have visited this one was one of the better ones. I didn't check out others on the map on this trip because I didn't want to be as deep into the woods where there was even more chance of encountering bears.
- Get your permit earlier in the day - They issue permits up to 15 minutes before close but only issue certain amount per day, best to get your permit early.
- Tie up your food and trash - This area is known for wildlife so you will want to secure your items up high at your camp to not attract animals into your campsite.
Miguel’s is a great place to camp if you are climbing in the Red River Gorge. I have stayed here many times and really enjoy it. Great campground with awesome people. It offers so many things such as a basketball court, quite heated areas, covered cooking, bathrooms, etc. I highly recommend if your in the area.
The campground has some really nice sites. Most are pretty level, but bring some blocks just in case. Some of the campsites are shaded and some are directly in the sun (18, 19, 21, 22, & 23). There was one (20) that you parked on beside the road and had to go down stairs to get to your picnic table and fire pit. We stayed on 15 at the end of a loop, kind of secluded. I definitely liked the loop that had sites 1 thru 15. Ours was further from the shower house (which was clean and typical of a state park), but there was a flushing bathroom at the end of the loop for our use. Nice hiking trails and beautiful scenery. There was a boat in campground closer to the lake. The trails led down to the lake at spots. The boat ramp was just a short drive over the hill and easy access. Fishing was great. We caught catfish, bass, bluegill, and crappie. Hosts were wonderful. We camped in a tent, but will return in our camper next summer.
This campground is the closest campground you will find to the downtown area while also being close to the Mississippi River. At first glance this location looks like it caters mostly to RV traffic, however upon closer evaluation there is a large tent area which offers sites with both electrical connections or without for a very reasonable $15 or $20.
The campground offers laundry and bathrooms which are well maintained and everyone visiting can take advantage of pretty strong wifi. When visiting this site cell signal with AT&T was fair making for a pretty luxurious feel overall and a great place to stay for the person wanting to get out but not be completely off the grid.
Tent spaces were pretty well spread out and had nice grassy pads. Many had their own picnic tables, while a few seemed to share.
The lake is more of a pond, but you can fish there or just enjoy the views which are pleasant.
Everyone at this campground seemed very friendly and there was a good mixture of different types of travelers in all types and styles of travel.
One of the most notable things about this campground is its proximity to town where you can enjoy so many activities including quilt festivals, the murals of the towns history entitled "Wall to Wall", museums and a variety of outdoor parks with activities throughout the year.
If you are stopping by this location make sure you check with the park to book in advance. This is a popular destination for those coming to the Annual Quilt Festival and books up during this week. Check in advance to make sure you aren't trying to just pass through when this is going on.
There are two areas of this camp, one has smaller spaces which are not ideal for pull outs and one where spaces are much more spread out. If booking in advance give a clear description of your rig to allow them to best suit your needs for accommodations.
Myself and my family have traveled to this campground for as long as I can remember. Have many great memories and loved the trails to the amphitheatres to over look the cliffs. Plus one of them we have our initials carved into the rock. Best memories I have.
One great thing about this place is that there is a river nearby. This river/creek was super busy, probably because it was a hot weekend. The campground was definitely full, and was "closed" because all campsites were taken. Thankfully we reserved our spot ahead of time. This place was full of activities- everyone doing something! The one downside I would say about this campground was how close each spot was to each other. Kind of felt like we were sharing a spot with our neighbors. The people next to us were super friendly, and quite which was nice. It was definitely loud most of the early evening with people by their camp fires. The rangers/people working here are super nice and friendly. They gave us great recommendations on where to hike. The hiking was great, and we saw some amazing views. Bathrooms were a little dirty- not sure when the last time they were cleaned, but definitely wasn't when we were there. There was also people that you could tell have been staying there for quite some time, not just a weekend trip. They were super friendly, and helpful. Overall, loved our stay here and would probably come back again. If their campsites were bigger we would definitely be back! Its like a small community here!
Stopped at Hillman Ferry campground in May on a trip to Illinois. We camped here several times in the 1990s and it was very nice. But it is showing some age now. The roads were rough and the sites were not very level. But the shower house was clean and there was lots of hot water. Plenty of wildlife and hiking
I have camped here in the spring and summer. This was my first trip in fall. The weather was wet and cold, but it couldn’t take away from the experience. The campsite that I was on was a double.(A30). It has electric, no water or sewage on the spot. We had 2 campers on the site with plenty of room. One is 37 ft and the other is 24 ft. There was plenty of downed trees to cut up. You should bring a bow saw. We also brought some wood. We were close to the water and trails. All of the teens that were with us had a ball(hiking, biking, basketball, and fishing). Sites are all clean and level and the bathrooms are clean.
Most of the sites are gravel, but level site the site that I stayed out had excellent service as far as water, sewer and electric goes. Very clean bath houses. A lake for fishing, or just watching the ducks. And a very large pavilion, For special events and get-togethers. Wonderful, friendly staff, just looking to be of service to you.
This is an amazingly well maintained, beautiful campground. The sites are on the lake and are large and flat. Awesome views and a tranquil lake for kayaking, canoeing or swimming. This is a must visit park!
The campground and general area is beautiful with a welcoming vibe. It can get a little crowded in the campground at certain times due to holidays but it's not hard to lose the crowd. Everyone is always extremely kind and treat you like family. The list of activities is almost endless……. boating, fishing and anything else you can do on the lake, trails in every direction, secluded spots on and off the lake for picnics, camping or whatever, stargazing, pool, wildlife everywhere, games and general activities at the campground, community center, dam, parks, and it's really close to town in case you want to check it out. Make sure you check out the Jenny Wiley theater if you can, they are beyond talented.
Went camping here in October. Campground was nice. Bathrooms were not very well kept. It has a beach with swimming and it was nice. We kayaked on the lake and while it was enjoyable there was a lot of trash in the lake. The people working while we were there were great. Not a lot going on here. We had to drive to get to a place to hike. That was fun. We probably will not return to this camp ground in the future.