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Kentucky – Natural Wonders Abounding

Kentucky is hard to be strictly typified. Some say it is more of a Midwestern, others argue it is more of a southern state. In the Civil War, Kentucky remained one of the few neutral border states. That does not mean that the state and its residents do not have their typical characteristics. The bluegrass is one, present throughout the state. Also, Kentucky has an extensive system of streams and waterways, the most complex in the entire United States.

Kentucky borders with both Midwestern states such as Illinois or Indiana and classical southern states like Tennessee and Virginia. Kentucky was historically part of Virginia until it separated from its eastern neighbor in 1790. Two years later, Kentucky was admitted to the Union as the 15th state. Kentucky residents are proud to this day of their “unbridled spirit.”

Cumberland Gap

Natural attractions abound throughout Kentucky. It may suffice to mention but the more prominent. Cumberland Gap used to be the chief passageway through the Appalachian Mountains, enabling tens of thousands of settlers to make their way west. What used to be part of the famous Wilderness Road is now Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Cumberland Gap lies at the triangle of the Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia borders.

Mammoth Cave National Park

One of the most prominent natural wonders throughout the US is Mammoth Cave National Park. Located in Edmonson County in central Kentucky, it features the longest cave system in the world. The site became a national park in 1941. The caves are located near Green and Nolin Rivers. Green River is a world-famous fishing site. Green River Lake, an artificial lake near Campbellsville is home to yet another state park. Water sports are great here and the natural surroundings are simply magnificent.

Lake Cumberland

Lake Cumberland is another great artificial lake within Kentucky’s borders. Its reservoir ranks 9th throughout the US in size. Lake Cumberland is one of the most popular tourist resorts in the nation. The area houses two state parks: Lake Cumberland State Resort Park and General Burnside State Park. Record fish have been caught in this lake. Great recreation, stunning nature as well as historic sites attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Black Mountain

Black Mountain is Kentucky’s highest point at 4,100 feet. It is located off the town of Lynch, formerly one of the leading coal mining towns in the state. The view from the mountaintop is breathtaking, on clear days reaching as far as Tennessee or North Carolina.


Louisville is undoubtedly Kentucky’s most important city and urban region. It also arguably brought forth the state’s most prominent son, Cassius Marcellus Clay, now better known as Muhammad Ali. The Ali Center in Louisville is one of the major attractions in the city today. With half a million residents, Louisville is Kentucky’s largest city. Old Louisville still boasts great Victorian architecture. Louisville is home to the annual Kentucky Derby, but the city also houses numerous cultural facilities such as the Speed Art Museum, the Frazier International History Museum or the Louisville Science Center. Several local history sites and archives tell their tales about the history of the region and beyond. One example would be the “Belle of Louisville”, the oldest Mississippi steamboat still operating.


Lexington is known as “The Horse Capital of the World”. Numerous horse race courses are spread through the city. The second-largest city of Kentucky is located in the central Bluegrass Region. The city offers a blend of natural bluegrass areas as well as modern skyscraper blocks like the Lexington Financial Center. Cultural and historical sites include Ashland: The Henry Clay Estate and the Lexington Public Library, featuring the world’s tallest ceiling clock and a five-floor long Foucault pendulum. Among the horse racing tracks, Keeneland is the most prominent.


Frankfort is Kentucky’s capital but at 27,000 not a very populous city. It is full of living history though. Take John Brown’s Liberty Hall, for example, built in 1796, reminding today’s visitors of one of Kentucky’s leading statesmen of the Early Republic times. The Old Capitol shows the typical features of the Greek Revival architecture style. Several whiskeys are made in Frankfort, for instance in the Kentucky Bourbon and Buffalo Trace Distilleries.

Kentucky offers a great variety of characteristic activities and attractions. It retains some of the old South charms and leisures like horse racing and the love for whiskey, while at the same time offers some of the greatest natural wonders of the United States. The Mammoth Cave complex, Green River, and Lake Cumberland are among the nation’s finest natural and recreational spots.

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