Hidden deep under the northeast forests of Kentucky, strange formations with names like Giant Turkey, Headache Rock, and The Cathedral mingle with cave corals, underground waterfalls and thousands of endangered bats. This is what awaits visitors to Carter Caves State Resort Park, approximately 90 miles east of Lexington. The park was only established, and the cave environments protected, in 1946. Prior to this, the land—and caves—have a long and storied history. It begins millions of years ago, when North America was in its development stage, with the land rising and falling, cracking and washing away. This began forming the caves as seen today. Fast-forward to the 1800s, and the caves served as a resource during the War of 1812. Today however, this 2000-acre park—both above and below ground—serves as a recreation destination for campers and adventurers.
The resort at Carter Caves offers a variety of overnight options, including camping, cottages and a lodge. Campers will find a large campground with 89 RV sites with utilities, 30 primitive tent sites, eight equestrian sites, and two bunkhouses. Most RV sites are back-in, and can accommodate vehicles/trailers up to 60 feet; bunkhouses can accommodate up to six people. The campground features bathhouses with showers, water faucets, picnic shelters, horse stables, and a playground. The park’s cottages are fully equipped with linens, cookware, and most have wood-burning fireplaces; these can accommodate up to eight people. The Lewis Caveland Lodge offers 28 rooms with full amenities, balconies and patios. Dogs are permitted in designated areas, and must remain leashed. Campsite rates are $18–$55/night; cottages and lodge rooms are $75–$240/night.
The main attraction at Carter Caves State Resort Park is … the caves! There are six named caves in the park for exploring. Some are open year-round, some are only open during the summer. The park offers guided walking tours in four of the caves. Tours range from 45 minutes to 2.5 hours, and require some stair-climbing and stooping. There are also two caves open for self-exploration. These are undeveloped, and require visitors to provide their own light source. For the adventurous, there are also two cave crawling expeditions. These tours are three hours long, and explore tight, undeveloped passages that require lots of crawling, stooping and duck-walking in muddy conditions. For visitors who would rather stay and play above ground, the park features 26 miles of hiking trails, guided horseback rides, putt-putt golf, rock climbing, and fishing and paddling on Smoky Valley Lake.
We reserved for the weekend. When we drove up to the campground we did not like the feel so we left. There is no space between sites. I was turned off when I saw a Lazyboy by a camper. The state park looks pretty, but not campground.
Primitive camping and rv space. You can rent a cabin and such. There is a resort. Everything always looks really nice. So many recreational activities, caves, hiking, horses and a lot more. I would really recommend visiting.
Nice caves & trails, but the campground is not best. Kentucky's sharing power poles make finding a level site with reachable power even tougher. Weekends are crazy crowded. Staff is friendly. Would never attempt to stay here without a reservaton.
Love this place. So much to do and explore. A great community feel with it being a very woodsy feel. The equine sites are the best by far and the only pull through sites I believe. We stayed there for thanksgiving and loved it.
A few sites have full hookup. Caves are great for touring.
We camped here on a stormy weekend but the weather didn’t stop the exploring. There are amazing areas to hike and explore. The staff was super friendly as well.
This is a beautiful state park with breathtaking views of creeks along the roadway, wonderful landscape designed by nature, good hiking trails, peaceful campground, and a nice lodge. The campground is a bit tight, especially when lots of cars are in visiting the campers, very peaceful though as the night goes on. The road to the lake could use a little TLC. Trails are marked nicely, as well as how to get to the equestrian site, Day use area, pool, lodge, and restaurant. Restaurant was very good buffet and menu items available. Lodge was clean and well kept. Very relaxing state park.
Park was nice, clean and has friendly staff. We liked that we could walk to the bathrooms and not have to drive there. We stayed at site 100 and really enjoyed the shade trees. Showers are small but they work and there are only 3 stalls of toilets and 3 showers ( I believe) in the women’s side- unsure of men’s. Plenty to do, including a playground, pool, miniature golf, bike riding, horse back riding, hiking, etc. All sites have a picnic table and a grate over the fire pit. Water wells are easily accessible and they have washers and dryers as well. Check-in location was a bit confusing but eventually figured it out.
something for everyone ,rv to tent camping…also cabins and a lodge is available for reservations. great dinning at lodge. wonderful hiking trails…And cave tours.