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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cumberland Falls, Kentucky

September 2016, Weekday, Afternoon visit

View from road shortly before we arrived at Cumberland Falls

On this trip, we stayed at Mammoth Cave National Park, Dale Hollow State Resort Park, and Natural Bridge State Resort Park. We stopped at Cumberland Falls between Dale Hollow and Natural Bridge.

Cumberland Falls Campgrounds

When we starting planning our Kentucky vacation, we initially thought we would stay a couple of nights at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. When I began to make reservations for the trip, I discovered there are no large RV sites in the campgrounds. There is only one 30' site in the Ridgeline campground, RV site #33. The size dimensions for this site are 30 x 15, and there were no pictures of the site online. I did not think our 30' 5th wheel, which is actually a bit longer, would fit, so I called the campground to make sure the information I had found online was correct. As I am writing this blog post, I see the reservation site now has the following language under Alerts and Important Information: No camping equipment or vehicle over 30 foot will [be] allowed in the Camping Area. 

Following are some RV campgrounds nearby:
- Falls Creek Cabins and Campground is the closest RV campground I could find. I do not know why this campground did not show when I searched online before our trip. We passed it when we left the falls, and I easily found the website when I searched after returning home. It is just over five miles east of the falls.
- Corbin/Laurel Lake KOA is about ½ hour northeast of the falls, near I-75. We were going to be arriving from the southwest, so we decided this was too far away to stay a couple of nights and drive back and forth.
- I found General Burnside Island Park after we had already made reservations at Dale Hollow State Park. This park is about ½ hour west of the falls. Since this park is located on the west side, more in line with our route than the KOA, we would have stayed at this park instead of Dale Hollow, if I had found it earlier. The drive from this park to Natural Bridge would have been less stressful than the route we took! By the time I happened upon this campground, it was less than 15 days before our stay, and we would have lost more than just the cancellation fee to change parks. 

Parking at Cumberland Falls

There is plenty of parking at the Visitor Center for large RVs. I was glad I had researched the park before our trip, and we knew where to pull in when we arrived. If you are arriving from the west, I suggest pulling into the first drive, directly on your left, after crossing the river. The entrance is located on a sharp turn in the road, and the speed limit is only 15 MPH on this corner. There was no sign designating this as the RV lot, and we hoped the information I had found before our trip was correct. It was, and the next entrance would have been more difficult to pull into from the west. The turn is even sharper at the second/main entrance from the west, and you will have to drive back to the first lot next to the river, if you have a trailer or RV.

View from RV lot above the falls
There is a nice view of the river from the RV parking lot, and we had lunch in the camper before walking to the falls.

Viewing Cumberland Falls

It is an easy walk from the RV lot to the Visitor Center and falls viewing areas. This was the only hike/walk on our Kentucky trip where we did not wear enclosed shoes and long pants. This was a relief, since the temperature was 90°F the entire week! It was such a mild walk, that I forgot to start my fitness tracker to see how far the walk was. I would guess we walked less than 2 miles total.


We walked from the RV lot upriver to the Visitor Center and gift shop. After touring the Visitor Center, we walked to the brink of the falls, then along the river aways to Moonbow Trail. There are steps ups and down in a few different areas along the river, which are easy to navigate. Portions of the trail are handicap accessible, as well. If we had been camping nearby, we would have hiked many of the trails, including Eagle Falls Trail on the opposite side.  Here is a link to a map of Cumberland Falls, which shows the hiking trails.

I am sharing a few photos of the falls in this blog post, and you can see more photos in the Cumberland Falls Facebook album.










Misc.

If you are using a GPS, and only stopping at the falls for a brief visit, I suggest leaving the GPS in a place where it will not lose reception. I turned ours off and removed it from the dash when we arrived at the falls. When we departed an hour or two later, the GPS would not come in. This had happened to us at Mammoth Cave National Park a few days earlier; however, in that location, the GPS started working again the next day. This time, our GPS never got satellite reception again until after we arrived home four days later! Additionally, the maps on my phone did not start working until we had almost reached I-75 after leaving Cumberland Falls. We never lost reception on any of our devices once they were connected. We just had trouble reconnecting in remote areas.

The route we then took to Natural Bridge State Resort Park was an adventure! There are many hairpin turns on Highway 30, the lanes are barely wide enough for a truck or RV, and there is no shoulder next to the road, which drops straight off with no guard rails. The speed limit is only 30 MPH for a good portion of the way. This road starts out fine, and I did not initially notice that my phone was routing us a different way than I had planned. Highway 30 was under construction part of the way, as a new road is being built, so this should be an easier drive in a few years. The construction did not cause any delays; we merely observed the new road alongside where we were driving in some areas.

We enjoyed our visit to Kentucky, and our experience at Natural Bridge/Red River Gorge area (next blog post) was even more amazing.

Let me know if you have any questions.