Facilities for picnicking, camping, hiking, horseback riding, and other forms of outdoor recreation are found throughout the state, especially in the various units of the state park system. Many of these units lie on rivers, lakes, or reservoirs and are popular areas for swimming, boating, fishing, and water-skiing. Hunting and fishing are two very popular pastimes. The Kentucky countryside, noted for its scenic diversity, is considered one of the state’s principal tourist attractions. In addition, Kentucky is noted for its numerous places of historical interest.
The four units administered by the National Park Service are among the state’s most popular attractions. The underground passages of Mammoth Cave National Park are still being mapped by explorers.
Mammoth Cave itself is a series of limestone chambers and narrow passages on five separate levels. It connects with two other cave systems that together extend 560 km (348 mi), making it the longest explored cave system in the world. In this vast subterranean world are giant vertical shafts, including the towering Mammoth Dome. Some passages and rooms are decorated with sparkling white gypsum crystals, while others are fitted with the sculpted shapes of stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations. Underground rivers, with names like Echo River and the River Styx, flow through Mammoth’s deepest chambers.
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, located near Hodgenville, includes a 19th-century log cabin representing the home in which Lincoln might have been born.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park was established in 1940 to preserve the historical Cumberland Gap area, a route through the Appalachian Mountains used by pioneers to enter the Kentucky territory. A portion of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area on the Cumberland River is located in southeastern Kentucky. The free-flowing river passes through scenic gorges and valleys containing a variety of natural features.
Daniel Boone National Forest covers 271,000 hectares (670,000 acres) of the Appalachian Plateaus region of Kentucky. The forest, a relatively narrow ribbon of land, extends across the region from the Tennessee state line to within about 30 km (about 20 mi) of the Ohio state line. Within the forest is the Red River Gorge, a protected geological area. Kentucky also contains a small section of Jefferson National Forest, most of which is in Virginia. "Kentucky" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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