U.S. National Forest Campground Guide

Daniel Boone National Forest


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Forest Information

The Daniel Boone National Forest, located in eastern Kentucky, is comprised of over 670,000 acres. There are 21 developed campgrounds, 13 of which met the selection criteria.

It might be possible to think one knows a place after hearing and reading about it, perhaps studying pictures of the place, only to discover you are unprepared for its richness and beauty. The Daniel Boone National Forest was such a place for the authors. Located in the mountainous eastern section of Kentucky, the Daniel Boone lacks the gently rolled landscape seen in pictures of this beautiful state. Rather, the forest is composed of rugged mountains, steep valleys and "hollars," the Red River Gorge, and two huge, man-made lakes: Cave Run Lake and Laurel River Lake. Each of these picturesque lake provides fishing and boating opportunities, wildlife viewing, and several pleasant camping locations. However, a quality camping experience is not limited to those campgrounds around Cave Run and Laurel River lakes.

S-Tree, Bee Rock, and Great Meadows campgrounds are some of Daniel Boone's alternatives to the more developed camping locations around the big lakes. Usually, the non-lake-side campgrounds are more car and tent camping-friendly and less attractive to recreational vehicle (RV) and motorhome camping enthusiasts. However, these less developed campgrounds do offer great solitude and quiet.

Bisecting the two lake areas is the Red River Gorge. In accessing this area from Cave Run Lake, on State Route 77, you must pass through the Nada Tunnel - not a task for the faint of heart. The tunnel was constructed to aid in the removal of timber by train in the 1880's. These trains were powerful but rather small in size. The tunnel was carved to the dimensions of 12 feet by 12 feet through 900 feet of mountain. After the first timber laden train got stuck, the height was increased to 13 feet. The only improvement you will find to Nada Tunnel from its timber transporting days is the railroad ties have been replaced with an asphalt roadway. Once through the Nada Tunnel you have entered the Red River Gorge Geological Area. This area is full of sandstone cliffs and rock formations carved by wind and rain over a period of 70 million years. The area claims to contain the greatest concentration of natural arches east of the Rocky Mountains. The best known and most accessible arch is Sky Bridge. In addition, twenty-five trails meander throughout the Red River Gorge Geological Area providing the most leisurely to expert hiker an opportunity to see a variety of formations.

A visit to the Gladie Historic Site (State Rt. 715), also located in the forest's midsection, will give one an appreciation for the way of life some one hundred years ago. The recently renovated log cabin of the Gladie Creek's original owner is open and contains displays of the area's by-gone lumber industry and farm life. Stones full of sea shell fossils used in the cabin's construction, bare evidence of the area's pre-human history, e.g., sea shell fossils. In a pasture, along Gladie Creek, is a small herd of bison recalling the days when Daniel Boone hunted these majestic animals in the Kentucky valleys. There are, occasionally, special demonstrations at Gladie of the skills needed by the folks who lived in this rugged area. Ask about them at the Gladie Creek Visitor Center.

The Daniel Boone National Forest was full of delights and surprises ranging from the pumpkin pie at Greene's Restaurant in Salt Lick, Kentucky, the swimming beach at the Twin Knobs campground, the Barren Fork Horse Camp, fully developed marinas on Laurel River Lake, and more. Daniel Boone, the adventurer, called the eastern mountains of Kentucky "the land of Eden." Even today the grandeur and beauty of this area in the Daniel Boone National Forest retains a "land of Eden" quality. It is a forest that, once experienced, will stay with you.

SUPERVISOR ADDRESS 1700 Bypass Rd. Winchester, Kentucky 40391 859-745-3100 RANGER DISTRICT ADDRESSES London 761 S. Laurel Dr. London, Kentucky 40744 606-864-4163 Cumberland 2375 Kentucky 801 South Morehead, Kentucky 40351 606-784-6428 Stearns U.S. Hwy. 27 North P.O.B. 429 Whitley City, Kentucky 42653 606-376-5323.

Fred and Suzi Dow