Carter Caves Things To Do
Our newest attraction is the Carter Caves Gem Mine, located at the Welcome Center Gift Shop. You can buy bags for $6.00, $8.00 and $10.00 (fossils) and begin your discoveries of real, colorful gemstones and fossils at the gemstone flume. Just place a scoop of rough material on the screen...then rinse with clean water. The gem stones, when wet, will reveal colors and crystal shapes!
There are lots of different gemstones to discover! Anything from locally-found Pyrite, Fluorite and Quartz, to Ruby, Moonstone, Topaz, Crystal Points, Sapphire, Emerald, Amethyst, Garnett, Citrine, Aventurine, Obsidian, Sodalite, Calcite and Raspberry Quartz could be found.
Sharing the experience of mining at the flume mine is a lot of fun. You can compare finds and help each other to identify what you've found. We invite individuals, families, and groups of all sizes. Mining is available during regular business hours of the Welcome Center Gift Shop, April through October.
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.
Enjoy the great outdoors! The campground features 89 campsites with utilities, 8 equestrian campsites with utilities, and 30 tent sites without utilities. Two bunkhouses with six wooden bunk beds and electric give those without tents or RV an opportunity to "rough it" (bring your own bedding/linens). A dump station, and three central service buildings with rest rooms and showers available for campers use. Closed Nov 15 - Mar 15 (equestrian sites open all year). ** The use of bicycles is prohibited at the equestrian campground **
Take a guided canoe trip on the 45–acre Smokey Lake to experience the beauty of the rugged, undisturbed terrain.
Fees: $12 for adults (13 and up), $6 for children. Seasonal participants must sign up in advance at the Welcome Center.
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.
View tour information from Tours link on Carter Cave's Home page.
Eight pull-through campsites specifically designed for horse owners 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 15 miles of multi use trails and several miles of back country roads, accessible from the horse camp, through both Carter Caves State Park and Tygart State Forest. Open all Year
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. Click here to purchase a license online at KY Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
Don't have a fishing pole? No problem! Ask at the park about their fishing loaner program where you can check out FREE equipment.
Click here for waterbody information with boat ramp details. Information courtesy of KY Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.
The Welcome Center provides cave tour information and orientation, rest rooms, and a gift shop featuring authentic Kentucky handcrafts. Our gift shop offers the largest selection of bat items and information in Kentucky. A wide variety of souvenirs, handcrafts, candles, jellies and coal crafted items can also be found. One of our most popular items is the rock display for kids and adults alike.
The gift shop is open from 9:00am - 5:00pm daily and will be open until 6:00pm through the summer months.
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.
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, 10 miles, and the newly developed Cave Branch Loop Trail, 2 miles, are multi use trails for horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking. Guests bring and ride mountain bikes. No ATVs allowed, and no overnight camping on the trail.
Guided rides are available from 10:00am - 6:00pm. The cost is $18 per person. The trail is 3 1/2 miles and lasts about 45 minutes. Pony rides available for children. Rides are available daily Memorial Day through Labor Day. During April-May and September-October rides will be available on weekends only. Call the park for more information on stable operation hours.
The relatively new Cave Branch Loop Trail along with the Kiser Hollow Trail enables guests to bring their own horses and ride. 15 miles of multi use trails are open year round.
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.
Orienteering is a sport in woods navigation where a person uses a map and compass to complete a course. It can be done by yourself or with your family. It is a great way to spend part of the day discovering new parts of the park!
The site of the 2015 United States Individual Championships and national team trials, Carter Caves State Resort Park offers two permanent orienteering courses. Currently in the planning stages the park will offer beginners course covering 2.0 km featuring approximately 10 controls (check points) and an intermediate course covering 6.0 km featuring approximately 15 controls, both in a wooded setting. You can get your map by clicking here or visiting the park gift shop.
Picnic tables, grills, and playgrounds are located throughout the park. Two rental shelters are available.
Playgrounds are located throughout the park.
A large, lifeguard-protected swimming pool, located a half-mile drive from the lodge, is free to lodge and cottage guests. Please present your key to enter.
Current Pool Hours
Open daily, 10:00am to 7:00pm, May 26 through Labor Day.
August 7th and 8th
The diving well will not be open until 4pm.
Effective the Week of August 10th
The public pool will be open daily except Monday and Tuesday. The diving well will not open until 4pm Wednesday through Friday. Diving well will be open all day on Saturday and Sundays.
Effective the Week of August 17th
The public pool will be open WEEKENDS ONLY (Saturday and Sunday) until Labor day Weekend. The pool will be open on Monday, September 1st.
Non-lodging Guests: $4.00 per adult
Children: $3.00 per child 3-12 years of age (2 yrs and under free)
Two tennis courts are in the lodge area. Overnight guest may check out rackets.