The Ultimate Guide to RV Camping in Kentucky

Travel Inspiration

Kentucky is a wonderful place to do some exploring, and RVing in Kentucky is the very best way to go about it. Traveling in an RV allows you to explore all of the amazing attractions the state has to offer before settling down in one of the state’s many natural areas for some rest and relaxation.

All that said, you will probably want a bit of guidance when planning your RV trip to Kentucky. That’s what this article is for!

Below, we’ve gathered all of the info you need to have an amazing time RV camping in Kentucky. 

Preparing for RV Camping

The first thing you’ll need to do when planning your Kentucky adventure is make sure you have a comfortable place to stay, along with all the items you need to be happy and safe while you’re out. Those who own RVs likely already have everything they need, but those who don’t will probably want to look into a Kentucky RV rental

Choosing the Right RV for Your Needs

If you’ve never been RVing before, choosing the right rental RV might feel a bit intimidating. The best place to start is by asking yourself whether you’d like to drive the RV you rent or if you prefer a delivery. If delivery is your preference, this will narrow your options a bit.

Plan to drive the rig yourself? If you want a trailer, you’ll want to ensure you have a vehicle that is strong enough to tow it. Otherwise, a driveable rig might be a better pick. 

Other things to consider when picking out the perfect rental RV include amenities, floor plan, RV size (make sure it’s big enough to be comfortable and will fit into whatever site you choose), and any items that are included (things like camp chairs and linens can be very helpful). 

Packing Essentials for a Successful Trip

Anything that isn’t included with your rental will of course need to be packed by you. Packing an RV is different from packing a suitcase. You might be surprised by how much gear you need.

Below is a very basic RV packing list, which can be built upon to meet your needs:

  • Clothes
  • Toiletries
  • Medications
  • First aid kit
  • Bug spray and sunscreen 
  • Tools
  • Entertainment (books, games, movies, toys for kids)
  • Outdoor recreation gear
  • Electronics and chargers
  • Pots, pans, and dishes
  • Paper towels
  • Groceries
  • Flashlights
  • Folding chairs
  • Bed sheets
  • Pillows
  • Blankets
  • Pet gear
  • RV leveling blocks
  • Sewer hose and adapter
  • Freshwater hose
  • RV surge protector

Think you may need more than what’s on the list above? Check out this RV packing list for more ideas. 

Road you might drive while RV camping in Kentucky

Considerations for Camping in Kentucky

It’s always a good idea to check on local laws and rules regarding RVing before you hit the road. While Kentucky’s rules are pretty typical, knowing them before your trip might save you a lot of trouble down the line.

Some rules to know: Kentucky requires that all rigs be under 65 feet total. Trailers and motorhomes cannot exceed 45 feet in length, 8.5 feet in width, or 13.5 feet in height. Triple towing is allowed, but that 65 foot length limit still applies. 

Trailers over 3,000 lbs must have a safety chain, a breakaway switch, and brakes. 

Finding Campgrounds

Next on the list of things to do: finding a place to park the RV. The good news is that Kentucky has plenty of campgrounds to choose from. From luxury RV resorts to campgrounds in the city to wilderness camping in the middle of nowhere, there is something for everyone in this camping-friendly state. 

Exploring Public Campgrounds in Kentucky

Let’s start by taking a look at Kentucky’s public campgrounds. In this particular state, these include state park campgrounds, campgrounds run by the National Parks Service, and National Forest Service camping options. All are excellent picks for those who like camping in beautiful places. 

National Park Camping

Mammoth Cave National Park is located in Kentucky. This is an amazing park for anyone who is interested in caves, as it is home to the biggest cave system in the world. It’s also an ideal place to take a hike and soak up the beauty of nature. 

Two of Mammoth Cave National Park’s three campgrounds welcome RVs. Mammoth Cave Campground is just a short walk from the visitor center and features lovely, shaded sites near all the action. Meanwhile, Maple Springs Campground also has well-shaded sites, but is set a ten-minute drive from the visitor center, making it a quieter place to stay. 

National Forest Camping

Kentucky is home to two national forests: Daniel Boone National Forest and Jefferson National Forest. Both of these forests feature some amazing hikes and camping opportunities. 

In Daniel Boone National Forest, we recommend staying in the Zilpo Recreation Area. This is a large camping area with plenty of RV sites, some with partial hookups. It offers beautiful mountain views, lake access, and a perfect escape into nature. 

Honestly, very little of Jefferson National Forest makes its way into Kentucky. Therefore, if you wish to camp in this forest, we recommend crossing over into Virginia and staying at Bark Camp Recreation Area. 

State Park Camping

Kentucky’s state parks are another fantastic option. They are in some of the most beautiful locations in the state and offer very affordable camping fees, making camping on a budget a cinch. 

Natural Bridge State Resort Park is one of our favorites. We also love Green River Lake State Park. Both offer plenty of campsites and lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

Exploring Private Campgrounds and RV Parks

Private campgrounds and RV parks in Kentucky are also plentiful, and many are absolutely fantastic places to stay. From glamping resorts to simple family parks with comforts and amenities such as clean laundry rooms, bathhouses, and dump stations, we’re guessing you’ll find a great place to stay pretty easily. 

One of our favorite campgrounds in Kentucky is the Tween the Lakes Campground in Grand Rivers. This park is only a few minutes from Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, meaning outdoor fun is never hard to find. It features some pull-through sites, room for big rigs, and free Wi-Fi. 

Another good pick? Whispering Hills RV Park. This one is located in Georgetown and is right off the highway, meaning it’s super easy to access. Amenities include individual bathrooms, a book exchange, and occasional events such as concerts. 

Boondocking in Kentucky

On a super tight budget? Prefer to camp for free? Boondocking in Kentucky is another good option. No, you won’t have the amenities offered in the state’s many campgrounds, but you’ll save some money while staying in beautiful places.

One of our top picks is Swain Ridge Road Dispersed Camping. This is a large clearing that is perfect for RVers. It’s near Parkers Lake and is part of the Daniel Boone National Forest. The camping area provides easy access to trails, streams, and more. 

Researching Campground Options and Making Reservations

Want to see even more awesome Kentucky campgrounds? Campspot is a wonderful place to start. BookOutdoors, RoverPass, and The Dyrt are also good places to research and book campgrounds. Meanwhile, sites like Harvest Hosts and Hipcamp give some more unique camping options. 

Cool bridge in Kentucky

Planning Your Itinerary

Alright, now it’s time to start thinking about what you will see and do while in Kentucky. The state has a lot to offer! From the museums and other attractions found in Louisville to the gorgeous parks, trails, and bodies of water scattered across the state, we’re betting you’re going to find a whole list of ways to fill your time. 

Features and Attractions in Kentucky

Scenic byways are a great way to get to know any state, and Kentucky is no exception! Our favorite drive in the state is the Red River Gorge Scenic byway, which takes you by some of the most beautiful places in the state. If you can, make a point of taking this drive. 

Landmarks are another biggie. In Kentucky, some of the most iconic landmarks include Churchill Downs and the Louisville Water Company Pumping Station. Be sure to add whatever Kentucky landmarks sound interesting to you to your itinerary. 

Of course, we must also mention the state’s many national sites. These include places like the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park and Camp Nelson National Monument. Sites like these are always worth seeing. 

Festivals, Fairs, and Events in Kentucky

Want to add an extra bit of spice to your Kentucky adventures? Throw an event into the mix! Kentucky plays host to a variety of great events throughout the year, and adding one to your trip itinerary is sure to make your getaway a memorable one. 

Some of our favorite Kentucky events include the Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville in the spring, the Kentucky Book Festival in Lexington during November, and the International Bar-B-Q Festival in Owensboro during May. 

Exploring Outdoor Activities

Spending some time outdoors is a must-do while RV camping in Kentucky. Luckily, this state has plenty of awesome outdoor areas, so finding ways to reconnect with Mother Nature while having a good time is a breeze. 

Hiking, Biking and Nature Trails

We’ll start by talking about some of Kentucky’s trails. Whether you prefer hiking or cycling, there is a trail for you in this state, and we’re going to help you find one that suits your fancy. 

Hikers will appreciate the following awesome trails:

Cyclists might prefer to hit these Kentucky bike trails:

Don’t see anything that jumps out at you? You might try heading over to AllTrails and running a quick search to see what kinds of other trails you can come up with. 

Fishing, Boating, and Water Activities

Those who prefer water-based activities will be equally pleased, as there are tons of ways to have fun in the water in Kentucky. From fishing and boating to swimming and chasing waterfalls, you’re going to find some way to enjoy water during your visit. 

Let’s start with fishing. Kentucky is home to a number of excellent fishing spots. Lake Cumberland State Resort Park is one of our top picks and is loaded with crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and trout. We also like fishing in Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park and Kentucky Lake’s Big Bear Resort. 

Oddly enough, you’ll also find some pretty good beaches in Kentucky. Pennyrile Forest State Resort Beach offers plenty of sand to play in, and the greenery surrounding the lake is lovely. We also love the beach at Lake Malone State Park, as the waters are relatively shallow, making it perfect for kids. 

Of course, we also must mention the waterfalls found in Kentucky. Broke Leg Falls is a nice little fall that can be accessed via a short and easy hike. We prefer Flat Lick Falls though. This one is located near Gray Hawk on the Flat Lick Creek, and the moss-covered rocks and trees surrounding the falls make it a truly picturesque place. 

Wildlife Viewing and Photography

Animals are plentiful in Kentucky’s natural areas, making this an ideal place for wildlife viewing and photography. Pretty much any of the state parks mentioned so far will offer some level of wildlife viewing, as well the national forests and Mammoth Cave National Park.

For even more animals, try heading to the Elk and Bison Prairie at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. 

Family-Friendly Activities and Attractions

Taking the kids with you? They’re likely going to love all of the sightseeing options we’ve mentioned already. That said, you might want to add a few family-friendly options to your list just for them. Not to worry, there are plenty to choose from. 

Historical Sites and Museums

We love to squeeze a bit of education into any trip with kids. In Kentucky, you can do that by visiting any or all of those NPS sites we mentioned earlier. The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park is a good pick, as is the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Another great way to add some learning to your adventures? Museums! We love the Louisville Slugger Museum, as well as the Kentucky Derby Museum. The Kentucky Science Center is also in Louisville and offers hands-on fun, and the Explorium of Lexington is a fun one. Many families also adore the Ark Encounter in Williamstown. 

Amusement Park, Zoos, and Wildlife Refuges

What about adding a Kentucky amusement park to your itinerary? The state has quite a few good ones, and they offer a great way to have fun as a family. Our favorite? Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay in Louisville. 

If you prefer animals over roller coasters, you might look into zoos in the area. The Louisville Zoo is wonderful, the Newport Aquarium is one of the best out there, and the Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo in Horse Cave is a unique attraction that the whole family will enjoy. 

Storm in Kentucky

Safety and Preparedness when RV Camping in Kentucky

Clearly, you will want to stay safe while RV camping in Kentucky. This is why you pack a first aid kit and drive as safely as possible. In addition to these precautions, it’s also a good idea to go in prepared for possible natural disasters and animal encounters. 

Weather Conditions and Natural Disaster Preparedness

Some of the most common Kentucky natural disasters include flooding, earthquakes, and sometimes landslides as a result of the former two. 

In order to stay safe from flooding, avoid parking your RV in an area that is prone to flooding (campsites very near bodies of water should be avoided) and skip driving in heavy rains. You will also want to avoid camping anywhere that a landslide might happen.

To stay in the know about incoming storms, make sure you have a good weather app downloaded and allow it to send you push notifications. 

Wildlife Encounters and Precautions

Animals that make themselves at home in Kentucky include black bears, coyotes, foxes, and some venomous snakes and spiders. 

Avoid bites from spiders and snakes by watching your step to ensure you don’t step on them, as well as always checking dark enclosed spaces before sticking your hand inside. If you do encounter one of these critters, make slow movements away from them. Know where the nearest hospital is, so that if you are bitten by a venomous snake or spider, you can head there for help. 

When it comes to bears, foxes, and coyotes, it is best to make plenty of noise while hiking in order to let the creatures know you’re coming. If you encounter a fox or coyote along the way, make some noise and slowly back away. If you come across a bear, make yourself look bigger by holding your arms up and back away slowly and quietly, getting your bear spray ready in case the bear charges. 

More Inspiration for Your Kentucky Travels

As you can see, going RV camping in Kentucky is a memorable and fun vacation option. Want even more options of things to see and do? Check out the links below: