From mountaintops to underground caves, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park encourages discovery. Located at the junction of Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, Cumberland Gap was the first gateway to the West and helps tell the stories of Native Americans, pioneers, Civil War soldiers and mountain communities. With historic buildings scattered among the forested mountains, it’s easy to feel like you’re going back in time. Visit in the autumn for spectacular fall colors. Photo by National Park Service.
Public lands are some of the best places to enjoy the dark skies. Atop the Cumberland Plateau in Kentucky and Tennessee, Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area offers presentations that guide visitors through the night sky, and telescope viewing of stars, planets, nebulae, galaxies and the International Space Station. It’s an out of this world experience! Photo by Josh Bandy, National Park Service.
On the one mile Yahoo Falls loop trail at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area in Kentucky, visitors can actually walk behind the waterfalls as they plunge 113 feet over the large rock shelf. In the deep forest, passing from sun to shade with the roar of the water in your ears and the spray of mist on your skin, it’s an adventure for all your senses. It’s just one of the many spectacular outdoor experiences you can have in this wonderful 125,000-acre park. Photo by Tom Wood (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Descend into a fascinating underground world at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. With over 360 miles of mapped passages, the park preserves the longest cave system in the world. Each year, more than 2 million people visit Mammoth Cave. Some strolling through large chambers and past unique rock formations while others challenge themselves with a wild cave tour along drop offs and through tight spaces. Photo of a cave entrance by Eric Blankenship (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Be prepared for sunrise splendor at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. It’s a thrill watching the sun paint the sky from the park’s Pinnacle Overlook. Here you have views of Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee. On clear days, you can even see the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina – a sight that’s 100 miles away! Photo by Volunteer Harold Jerrell, National Park Service.