Kentucky is known as the "Bluegrass State", a nickname based on the fact that bluegrass is present in many of the pastures throughout the state, based on the fertile soil. It made possible the breeding of high-quality livestock, especially thoroughbred racing horses. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world's longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park; the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the United States; and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. It is also home to the highest number of deer and turkey in the United States, the largest free-ranging elk herd east of Montana, and the nation's most productive coalfield. Kentucky is also known for thoroughbred horses, horse racing, bourbon distilleries, bluegrass music, automobile manufacturing, tobacco and college basketball. It is generally accepted that the Native American tribes who hunted in what is now Kentucky referred to the region as Catawba, or some similar variant. The origin of Kentucky's modern name (variously spelled Cane-tuck-ee, Cantucky, Kain-tuck-ee, and Kentuckee before its modern spelling was accepted) comes from the Iroquois tribe, who referred to their buffalo hunting grounds in Central Kentucky's savanna and salt licks as the meadow lands.

Kentucky's 90,000 miles of streams provides one of the most expansive and complex stream systems in the nation. Kentucky has both the largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi in water volume (Lake Cumberland) and surface area (Kentucky Lake). It is the only U.S. state to be bordered on three sides by rivers the Mississippi River to the west, the Ohio River to the north, and the Big Sandy River and Tug Fork to the east. Its major internal rivers include the Kentucky River, Tennessee River, Cumberland River, Green River and Licking River. Kentucky has an expansive park system which includes one national park, two National Recreation areas, two National Historic Parks, two national forests, two National Wildlife Refuges, 45 state parks, 37,696 acres of state forest, and 82 Wildlife Management Areas.

Significant natural attractions include Red River Gorge is one of Kentucky's most visited places; Cumberland Gap, chief passageway through the Appalachian Mountains in early American history; Cumberland Falls State Park, the only place in the Western Hemisphere where a "moon-bow" may be regularly seen, due to the spray of the falls; Mammoth Cave National Park, featuring the world's longest known cave system; Red River Gorge Geological Area, part of the Daniel Boone National Forest; Land Between the Lakes, a National Recreation Area managed by the United States Forest Service; Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area near Whitley City; Black Mountain, state's highest point runs along the border of Harlan and Letcher counties; Bad Branch Falls State Nature Preserve, 2,639-acre state nature preserve on southern slope of Pine Mountain in Letcher County. Includes one of the largest concentrations of rare and endangered species in the state, as well as a 60-foot waterfall and a Kentucky Wild River; Jefferson Memorial Forest, located in the southern fringes of Louisville in the Knobs region, the largest municipally run forest in the United States; Lake Cumberland, 1,255 miles of shoreline located in South Central Kentucky; Natural Bridge, located in Slade, Kentucky.

Travel in Kentucky is accessible by five interstates: I-71 and I-75 both enter the state from the north at Cincinnati. The two roads split in the Kentucky suburbs, with I-71 going to its southern end in Louisville and I-75 to Lexington, continuing past Richmond, Berea, and London; I-64 runs from Ashland in the east to Louisville in the west, passing by Lexington and Frankfort on the way; I-65 enters the state from Indiana and runs from Louisville to Bowling Green, continuing to the Tennessee state line; I-24 from Paducah to Hopkinsville and the Fort Campbell area.

The state is also served by major controlled-access roads called "Parkways" administered by the state. These roads were all built as toll roads but have since become freeways, although the portions of these roads that will become part of the new I-66 and I-69 may become tolled again in the future. Nine roads make up the parkway system. All except the Audubon officially bear the names of Kentucky politicians. The Audubon Parkway, the shortest road in the system, connects Henderson and Owensboro; The Martha Layne Collins Bluegrass Parkway runs from I-65 on the north side of Elizabethtown to Versailles, just west of Lexington; The Louie B Nunn Cumberland Parkway runs along the southern tier of the state from I-65 east of Bowling Green to Somerset, near the Lake Cumberland resort region. It has been designated as part of the future I-66; The Hal Rogers Parkway (Daniel Boone Parkway), mainly a two-lane road with frequent passing lanes for heavy trucks, connects London with Hazard in the eastern third of the state. The future I-66 will parallel this road, although on a mostly new route; The Bert T Combs Mountain Parkway connects I-64 in Winchester to eastern Kentucky near Prestonsburg. Note that the eastern half of this road, past Campton, is two lanes; The William H Natcher Parkway (Green River Parkway) connects Owensboro with Bowling Green. The southern half of the highway (Bowling Green to the Western Kentucky Parkway) has also been designated as part of the future I-66; The Edward T Breathitt Pennyrile Parkway runs from Henderson to Hopkinsville. The section from Henderson to the Western Kentucky Parkway has been designated as part of the future I-69; The Julian M Carroll Purchase Parkway runs diagonally through the Jackson Purchase region (the region west of the Tennessee River), starting at the Tennessee state line in Fulton and ending at I-24 at Calvert City near Kentucky Lake. It will also be part of the future I-69; The Wendell Ford Western Kentucky Parkway (also known as the WK), the longest road in the system, runs from I-65 on the south side of Elizabethtown to I-24 near Eddyville and Lake Barkley. Between Eddyville and the Pennyrile Parkway, this road will be part of both I-66 and I-69.

Kentucky is also served by many state and US highways: KY80 crosses the southern part of the state, linking Mayfield, Hopkinsville, Bowling Green, Somerset, London, Hazard and Pikeville; US27 runs from Covington south to Somerset; US127, also from Covington, runs through Frankfort, Danville and the Lake Cumberland area; US150 offers a connection between Louisville and I-75 between Lexington and Tennessee; US23 (Country Music Highway) connects Ashland with Virginia south of Pikeville; US60 bisects the state from the Mississippi River to Ashland, passing through Paducah, Henderson, Owensboro and Louisville before following I-64 the rest of its route; US68 begins just east of Paducah, running as largely an east-west route through Hopkinsville, Bowling Green and Glasgow. A short distance past Glasgow, the road takes a sharp turn to the northeast toward Harrodsburg, Lexington and Maysville.

Bowling Green
Covington & Newport

Big South Fork
Cumberland Gap
Kentucky's Abraham Lincoln
Land Between The Lakes
Mammoth Cave
Red River Gorge

Barren River Lake
Carter Caves
Columbus Belmont
Cumberland Falls
Dale Hollow Lake
Kingdom Come
Lake Cumberland
My Old Kentucky Home
Natural Bridge
Pine Mountain

University Of Kentucky
University Of Louisville
Western Kentucky University

Breaks Interstate Park
Churchill Downs
Kentucky Covered Bridges
Eastern Ky Mountains
Fort Boonesborough
Kentucky Dam & Lock
Kentucky Down Under
Kentucky Rivers
Jefferson Davis Monument
Louisville Zoo
Makers Mark Distillery
Woodford Reserve Distillery

        Kentucky State Parks        Kentucky Tourism        Kentucky Dept Of Fish & Wildlife        Kentucky Outdoor Adventure        Kentucky Division Of Forestry

Kentucky Festivals Events Association        The Nature Conservancy

Kentucky Department Of Travel       Kentucky Transportation Cabinet       Commonwealth of Kentucky

Kentucky Department Of Fish & Wildlife        Kentucky Tourism Council

Kentucky Horse Park        Kentucky Division Of Forestry        Kentucky State Parks

Kentucky Festivals & Events Association        Kentucky Nature Conservancy        Genuine Kentucky

Website created and maintained by George Stewart/Rainman Graphix 1998-2018

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