Cumberland Falls State Park: An In-Depth Family Adventure Guide

Cumberland Falls State Park: An In-Depth Family Adventure Guide

Building a spirit of adventure for your kid starts early on. Taking them for nature walks, fishing, camping, and other outdoor activities should mold them into wanderlust addicts. The US has several state parks each offering a diverse experience. In Kentucky, Cumberland Falls State Park has become an enchanting escape for families seeking unforgettable memories.

The highlight of the trip to the park is the Cumberland Falls. Known as the “Niagara of the South,” the falls are not only a breathtaking spectacle but also a haven of outdoor activities perfect for families with kids. In this article, we are going to look at why Cumberland Falls State Park is the ideal family destination in Kentucky;

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What you need to know before going to Cumberland Falls State Park

Nestled deep in the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park beckons with its natural splendor. The crown jewel of this enchanting destination is the majestic Cumberland Falls, a breathtaking 68-foot tall and 125-foot wide waterfall that gracefully tumbles over a gorge adorned with picturesque boulders.

The falls are not only a stunning spectacle, there is a rare and magical phenomenon – the moonbow. Illuminated by the light of a full moon, this lunar rainbow is one of only two in the world, adding a touch of mystique to the already awe-inspiring surroundings. Before you pack your bags, we have compiled some information to make your experience in the park a memorable one;

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park on Google Map:

1. How much does it cost to go to Cumberland Falls State Park?

At Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, there are no general admission fees. Unlike some parks, Cumberland Falls welcomes visitors without any entry charges. This allows families to explore the breathtaking landscapes, hike the trails, and marvel at the captivating Cumberland Falls without worrying about entrance fees.

2. Can you see Cumberland Falls without hiking?

Yes, you can see Cumberland Falls without hiking. Nestled just 10 miles off the highway, a visit to Cumberland Falls promises an effortlessly accessible and breathtaking experience for nature enthusiasts and families alike. What makes this destination particularly appealing is the convenience of parking right by the top of the falls, with a mere 200-foot stroll leading to captivating outlooks.

3. Can you swim in Cumberland Falls?

No, you can’t swim in Cumberland Falls because of the strong current coupled with jagged rocks.

What to do at Cumberland Falls State Park

To help you plan your trip, we have compiled a list of fun things to do at Cumberland Falls State Park;

1. Fossil hunting at Cumberland Falls State Park

Embarking on a fossil-hunting adventure at Cumberland Falls State Park is a delightful and educational experience for families. One of the park’s hidden gems is the opportunity to pan for fossils and gemstones with the Cumberland Falls Mining Company. This activity has become a favorite among both visitors and locals alike.


As you sift through the sediment in the flume, you’ll uncover a treasure trove of real, colorful gemstones and fossils during the season. This hands-on experience not only provides a unique and enjoyable activity for kids but also serves as an engaging educational opportunity.

2. Horseback riding at Cumberland Falls State Park

For families seeking a unique adventure at Cumberland Falls State Park, horseback riding is an excellent choice. The park’s stables open their doors daily, inviting riders aged 6 and up to embark on a 45-minute journey through The Kentucky Wildlands.

The guided trail rides are tailored to accommodate riders of all skill levels, making it an ideal experience for both beginners and more seasoned equestrians. The lush forest setting provides a picturesque backdrop for this enchanting activity, allowing riders to immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty while enjoying the gentle rhythm of their trusty steeds.

3. Fishing in Cumberland Falls State Park

Fishing enthusiasts will find a haven for their favorite pastime at Cumberland Falls State Park. Cast a line into the pristine waters of the Cumberland River, which winds its way through the picturesque hillside of the park. The river is home to a diverse array of fish species, including bass, trout, catfish, panfish, and roughfish, offering an exciting challenge for anglers of all skill levels.

4. Birdwatching at Cumberland Falls State Park

Birdwatching at Cumberland Falls State Park is a delight for nature enthusiasts, offering a memorable experience in The Kentucky Wildlands. As you venture into the park’s diverse habitats, be prepared to be captivated by the vibrant avian life that calls this area home.

The Pileated Woodpecker, with its striking appearance and distinctive drumming sounds, is a highlight for birders seeking unique sightings. The cheerful calls of the Carolina Chickadee add to the symphony of nature, creating an immersive birding experience.

5. Rafting and kayaking

At Cumberland Falls State Park, the thrill of whitewater rafting and kayaking beckons families seeking aquatic adventures. A guided whitewater rafting trip on the Russell Fork River offers an exhilarating 10-mile journey featuring breathtaking scenic views and the excitement of navigating Class 3 rapids.

For families with younger adventurers, the guided Rainbow Mist Ride to the base of Cumberland Falls is a must-try, with the guide taking care of all paddling, making it a safe and enjoyable experience for the kids.

The park also provides opportunities for independent exploration with kayaks and canoe rentals. Whether you’re paddling upstream or downstream, the river offers a serene backdrop for family bonding. You can also opt for a guided kayak excursion; this ensures a fun and memorable paddling experience for all.

6. Experience the Moonbow at Cumberland Falls State Park

Experiencing the Moonbow at Cumberland Falls State Park is a truly enchanting phenomenon that captures the imagination. A moonbow is a rare natural occurrence that emerges when the moonlight reflects off water droplets in the air around a waterfall, resulting in a captivating lunar rainbow.

The magic of a moonbow relies on the perfect alignment of three crucial elements: a full moon, a cloudless night, and an abundance of water droplets in the air. Cumberland Falls is one of the few places to witness this natural wonder.

7. Hiking in Cumberland Falls State Park

Embark on a hiking adventure like no other at Cumberland Falls State Park, where 20 miles of winding trails beckon explorers to immerse themselves in the park’s natural splendor. These well-maintained paths lead families through breathtaking landscapes, unveiling the true essence of Kentucky’s wilderness. Here are the top hiking trails in Cumberland Falls State Park;

0.1 Eagle Falls Trail

Embarking on the 1.5-mile Eagle Falls Trail is a must for avid hikers seeking a thrilling adventure. Renowned as a favorite among trail enthusiasts, this scenic pathway is the sole route to the captivating Eagle Falls. As hikers traverse the trail, they find themselves immersed in the rugged beauty of the cliff line, providing a challenging yet rewarding journey.

0.2 The Moonbow Trail

Embarking on the Moonbow Trail is a thrilling adventure for those seeking a unique and mesmerizing experience. This trail, known for offering a chance to witness the renowned moonbow phenomenon – a rare occurrence visible for two days before and after a full moon – caters to hikers in search of a challenge.

While the trail demands a bit more effort, the promise of witnessing the ethereal moonbow makes it a worthwhile expedition for nature enthusiasts. For those seeking a more accessible route, especially during the evening hours, the Cumberland Falls Trail provides a half-mile option that leads to observation decks, ensuring a captivating view of the moonbow spectacle.

Whether opting for the Moonbow Trail’s challenging ascent or the easier Cumberland Falls Trail, both adventures promise an unforgettable encounter with the magic of nature under the glow of the moon.

0.3 Dog Slaughter Falls

Embarking on the Dog Slaughter Falls Trail in Cumberland Falls State Park is a nature lover’s dream come true. As you traverse this scenic trail, the melodious sounds of a gently babbling creek accompany you on the journey.

The creek, adorned with a series of delightful slides and cascades, provides a picturesque backdrop to the hike. However, the true highlight emerges at the 2.5-mile mark, where the captivating Dog Slaughter Falls takes center stage. Regarded as one of the best in Kentucky, the falls offer a mesmerizing spectacle against the backdrop of the lush surroundings.

0.4 Bark Camp Creek

The Bark Camp Creek Trail at Cumberland Falls State Park promises an immersive journey into the heart of nature’s beauty. The cascades of Bark Camp Creek are a year-round spectacle, drawing hikers into a world of enchantment.

As you traverse the trail on the north side of the creek, you’ll find yourself flanked by impressive rock walls and be treated to the mesmerizing sight of wet-weather waterfalls cascading down the northern edge of the trail.

Where to eat in Cumberland Falls State Park

After a long of exploring, chances are high that you and the kids have worked up an appetite. You don’t have to travel far to grab a bite. There is a dedicated full-service restaurant inside Dupont Lodge at Cumberland Falls State Park.

1. Riverview Restaurant

Dining at The Riverview Restaurant within Cumberland Falls State Park is a delightful culinary experience that complements the natural splendor surrounding the park. Housed inside the Dupont Lodge, the restaurant not only provides a warm and inviting ambiance but also boasts a beautiful view that enhances the dining experience. One standout feature that captures the taste buds of visitors is the excellent banana pudding.

Riverview Restaurant on Google Map:

2. Bradley’s Gourmet Coffee & More

Located about 8 miles from Cumberland Falls State Park, Bradley’s Gourmet Coffee & More is a delightful experience that combines a quaint country atmosphere with an array of gourmet delights. Bradley’s caters to guests with the rich flavors of their meticulously crafted gourmet coffee and specialty drinks. Their menu is diverse with several specials to cater to every member of the family.

Bradley’s Gourmet Coffee & More on Google Map:

Where to stay in Cumberland Falls State Park

When it comes to accommodations near Cumberland Falls State Park, visitors are presented with a range of options in the form of campgrounds, cottages, and DuPont Lodge. On the other hand, if you prefer the comforts of a cozy bed and modern amenities, there are hotels available in the nearby towns.

1. Hotels

0.1 Hampton Inn Williamsburg

Located just a mile from I-64 and a half-mile from the historic charm of Colonial Williamsburg, the Hampton Inn Williamsburg is the ideal lodging option for families seeking adventure. The hotel’s prime location makes it an ideal hub for exploration, with the excitement of Busch Gardens and the shopping delights of Williamsburg Premium Outlets just a quick 10-minute drive away.

Hampton Inn Williamsburg on Google Map:

0.2 Best Western Corbin Inn

Located about 15 miles from Cumberland Falls State Park, the Best Western Corbin Inn is an inviting retreat that effortlessly combines convenience with comfort. A mere 4-minute drive from downtown Williamsburg, this hotel offers an ideal location for those seeking proximity to local attractions. Guests are treated to a delicious continental breakfast each morning, setting the perfect tone for a day of exploration or relaxation.

Best Western Corbin Inn on Google Map:

0.3 DuPont Lodge

Located within Cumberland Falls State Park, the DuPont Lodge is a beacon of opulence for those seeking an unforgettable stay. With 51 full-service rooms, guests can luxuriate in the timeless charm of Kentucky’s Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. The lodge’s elegant architecture, featuring hemlock beams, pine paneling, and inviting stone fireplaces, creates a warm and inviting atmosphere.

The crown jewel of the lodge experience is the Riverview Restaurant, where guests can savor delectable meals while marveling at the breathtaking Cumberland River and the Appalachian Mountains.

DuPont Lodge on Google Map:

2. Cottages

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Cumberland Falls State Park by staying in the charming one and two-bedroom cottages. Each cottage boasts its unique appeal, offering a cozy retreat amidst the natural beauty of the park. The warmth of crackling fireplaces in most cottages adds an extra layer of comfort, creating a perfect ambiance for relaxation.

Guests can enjoy the convenience of fully-equipped kitchens with provided tableware and cooking utensils, ensuring a hassle-free stay. Fresh linens are available daily, ensuring a clean and comfortable stay. Arriving guests can settle into their cottages by late afternoon, while check-out time is set at 11:00 AM, Eastern time.

3. Campgrounds

Camping at Cumberland Falls State Park is a delightful experience for families seeking a nature-filled retreat. The park offers 50 well-equipped campsites with water and electric hookups, providing a comfortable and convenient stay.

Divided between the Clifty Campground and Ridgeline Campground, these sites are strategically located near the heart of the action, eliminating the need for campers to use their cars to explore the park.

Nature enthusiasts can enjoy the nearby trails leading to Cumberland Falls and the Dupont Lodge, ensuring that adventure is just steps away. The campgrounds are pet-friendly, with the condition of proper restraint.

A visit to Cumberland Falls State Park with kids promises a perfect blend of natural beauty, adventure, and education. From the awe-inspiring waterfall to the family-friendly trails, the park provides a diverse array of activities that cater to every member of the family. Embrace the rare Moonbow, embark on exciting hikes, and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime in this picturesque Kentucky gem.

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Happy Travels!

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