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Camping in Kentucky

Primitive camping or camping with amenities: it’s all fun 

JUNE IS HERE AND PEOPLE ARE GETTING OUT to enjoy all the great adventures that Kentucky has to offer. The kids are out of school and ready to get outdoors and have fun while learning at the same time. It was so much fun to watch my kids while camping, seeing them quickly adapt to something that they thought would be boring. In no time, the video games were tossed aside and forgotten. Instead, they found fossils, asked questions and built campfires. 

There are so many sights to see and things to do in Kentucky—and there’s almost always a campground nearby. Whether you enjoy tent camping at a campground, backpacking into remote areas to camp, or prefer a big, comfortable camper, spending the weekend camping in either a new or familiar place is a great way to get outdoors. 

Camping is the perfect way to add a little extra adventure to your adventures. With the longest known cave system in the world at Mammoth Cave National Park, the largest human-made reservoir east of the Mississippi River in Kentucky Lake, and the most navigable miles of streams and waterways in the lower 48, Kentucky is home to some of the most diverse environments in the country. What better way to explore them than camping? 

Camping can be as simple or as technical as you like. While primitive campsites provide a pad for your tent and some have restrooms, if you are feeling adventurous, try backwoods camping, also called dispersed camping. This has been my favorite way of camping over the years. 

Dispersed camping enables you to set up outside of traditional campgrounds, even with a camper. There are rules to follow for this type of camping, but it opens up a whole new world of adventure as you search for your favorite backwoods campsites. Some locations that allow backwoods camping require a permit, but others do not. When camping in national parks, call the ranger station you plan to visit for more information. 

To get an idea about guidelines for different kinds of camping, check out the rules for the Daniel Boone National Forest at www.fs.usda. gov/dbnf; click on “Recreation” on left, then “Camping & Cabins.” Dispersed and other types of camping are listed. 

If you prefer the more laid-back, relaxing way of camping, the Kentucky State Park system has 30 campgrounds, and many more private campgrounds around the state offer all the amenities. These kinds of campgrounds are loaded with events and activities for everyone, from bike trails to swimming pools. Kentucky Parks offers a comprehensive web page for your research, at

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