Carter Caves State Resort Park

Quick Facts

Carter Caves State Resort Park


(606) 286-4411

Map Directions

Things To Do


Discovered by settlers in the 1780s, this region is distinguished by its rock cliffs, natural bridges, and more than 20 caverns that include explored and unexplored sites. Guided cave tours are offered daily throughout the year at three of these, including the Bat Cave Nature Preserve, which has a flourishing population of rare bats within the cave; tours of this cave take place in the summer only.

Above ground, 20 miles of nature trails provide opportunities for hiking, and guided canoe trips on Tygart's Creek are available. Other water-based recreation can be enjoyed on the 45-acre trophy bass Smokey Valley Lake, where motorboats are prohibited. There is a lodge and a restaurant. Cottages are also available for rent. A large swimming pool is accessible just a half-mile from the lodge, and guided horseback trail rides offer another vantage point of the scenic park grounds.

Map of Carter Caves State Resort Park (KY)

Latitude, Longitude: 38.368134, -83.123061



  • Boating

    Take a guided canoe trip on the 45-acre Smokey Lake to experience the beauty of the rugged, undisturbed terrain.

  • Bird Watching

    Winter is a time for northern sparrows, finches, wrens, juncos, red-breasted nuthatches, purple finches, pine siskins, and occasionally, evening grobeaks and brown creepers. Spring is alive with warbler migrations, waterfowl & thrushes. Interesting birds to look for are Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Double-breasted Cormorants, and cedar waxwings. In the summer nesting warblers include redstarts, ceruleans, pines, Blue wings, Parulas, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Red-tailed Hawks. Excellent birding opportunities about throughout the park, but of special note is in the mature forests around the campgrounds, cottage area (red-headed Woodpeckers), the Box Canyon Trail, and the short trail to Carter Caves Natural Bridge.

  • Bicycling

    Kiser Hollow Trail, a 10-mile looped trail, is open to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian riders, passes through mature hardwood forest of Tygart State Forest, and runs through scenic valley cut by Smokey Creek, see remains of Kiser Homeplace, terrain is rocky with several steep grades, rated difficult

  • Camping

    The campground features 89 campsites including 30 tent sites with utilities, a dump station, and two central service buildings with rest rooms and showers. The tent sites do not have water or electric. Closed for season from mid-November to mid-March.

  • Caving

    The Carter County region has the highest concentration of caves to be found in any area of Kentucky. Two of the park's caves offer guided tours year-round, Cascade Cave and X-Cave. Enjoy a subterranean adventure, created by nature over millions of years.

    White Nose Syndrome, a disease that is killing 90-100% of hibernating bats in infected caves, is getting closer to the state of Kentucky. Saltpetre, Bat and Horn Hollow caves are important Bat Hibernacula's for the Federally Endangered Indiana Bat. The Department of Parks closed these caves in order to help prevent the introduction of White Nose Syndrome.

  • Fishing

    Smokey Valley Lake is Kentucky's first trophy bass lake! In addition to largemouth bass, anglers vie for bluegill, catfish, and crappie. Fishing license required for both residents and non-residents and are available at the front desk.

  • Golfing

    Test your skills on the 9-hole regulation golf course. A fully-equipped pro shop, rental riding carts, pull carts, and clubs are available. Open year-round, weather permitting. Pro Shop direct number: 606-286-8881. Also enjoy the 18-hole miniature golf course. In the off-season, clubs and balls are available at the campground registration building and the Lodge front desk. Open seasonally.

  • Hiking

    Discover the above ground beauty of Carter Caves on 26 miles of wooded nature trails. Trails range from easy to difficult hiking level ability. The Kiser Hollow Trail is a multi-use 10-mile trail for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. There is a parking area at the trailhead for trucks with horse trailers. Guests bring and ride mountain bikes. No ATVs allowed, and no overnight camping on the trail.

  • Horseback Riding

    Kiser Hollow Horse Trail is a relatively new trail that enables guests to bring their own horses and ride. The Kiser Hollow trail is open year round.

    Guided rides are available. The trail is 3 1/2 miles and lasts about 45 minutes. Pony rides available for children. Seasonal mid-April to October 11.

    Carter Caves offers 8 pull-through campsites specifically designed for horse owners. These sites feature electric, water and sewer hook-ups. Each site has its own corresponding hitching posts for up to four horses, picnic table, lantern hanger & fire ring/grill combo. Horse campers have access to all campground amenities, which include bathhouses, laundry area and playgrounds. Riders can enjoy 12 miles of multi use trails, accessible from the horse camp.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic tables, grills, and playgrounds are located throughout the park. Two rental shelters are available.

  • RVing

    The campground has sites with electric hookups. There is also a dump station, and two central service buildings with rest rooms and showers.

  • Tennis

    Two tennis courts are in the lodge area. Guest may check out rackets.

  • Water Sports

    A large swimming pool, located a half-mile drive from the lodge, is free to lodge and cottage guests (show key).



From I-64 east. Take exit #161 (Olive Hill exit). Turn left off the exit onto US 60 east. Go approximately 2 miles and turn left on KY 182 north. Park entrance is 3 miles from the left turn onto KY 182 north. From I-64 west. Take exit #161 (Second Olive Hill exit).Turn right off the exit onto US 60 east. Go approximately 2 miles and turn left on KY 182 north. Park entrance is 3 miles from the left turn onto KY 182 north. From Cincinnati: Take 275 east to the Wilder exit. You are now on the AA highway (Rt. 9). Follow the AA through Maysville and Vanceburg . At Vanceburg you will go through 2 caution lights, several miles out of Vanceburg you will see another set of caution lights. Turn right onto South 9. (You are still on the AA highway) Follow South 9 for 12 miles to another set of caution lights, turn right onto Rt. 7 & Rt. 2. Follow Rt. 7 to Carter City, turn left onto Rt. 2. Follow Rt. 2 to Rt. 182. Follow Route 182 to the park entrance. The park entrance is on the right at the bottom of a long curvy hill. Drive Time: Approximately 2 hours 45 minutes.

Phone Numbers


(606) 286-4411