Carter Caves State Resort Park

Park Activities

  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Paddling
  • Swimming
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Miniature Golf
  • Playgrounds
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Tennis
  • Pedal Boating
Carter Caves State Resort Park
344 Caveland Drive
Olive Hill, KY 41164
Olive Hill, KY
Kentucky Appalachians


ALERT: The coronavirus outbreak has led to the closure of some Kentucky State Park facilities such as museums, gift shops and historic homes. For the latest details, click here.

Lodging & Camping

This beautiful fieldstone lodge offers 28 rooms with full amenities. Each room features a private balcony or patio overlooking the surrounding woodlands. Rooms available by late afternoon. Lodge room check-out by 11 a.m. local time. We are now pet friendly! No more than two pets are allowed per room/cottage. High speed wireless internet service available at the lodge. The park also has 12 cottages and a 129-site campground that includes eight equestrian sites.
Cave tours are offered throughout the year. For more on cave tours, click here.


Beneath the forested hills of this resort, nature has hidden more than 20 twisting caverns, where you'll discover a 30-foot underground waterfall, and many more surprises!

Tierney's Cavern

Tierney's Cavern Restaurant honors our most popular attraction, the caves and retired park Naturalist John Tierney. The restaurant seats 100 and accompanying the new name is a new menu that offers many appetizing selections. As a supporter of Kentucky Proud program we utilize locally grown meats and produce when available. Our staff provides a friendly, warm atmosphere while giving professional service.

Restaurant Hours
Restaurant hours through May 1, 2020
(Carry out only; we recommend calling ahead to order)

Breakfast 7-10 a.m.
Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Dinner 4-7 p.m.

Dates: December 15 - March 15
Sunday – Free Continental Breakfast 7-10 a.m. for overnight guests*; Sunday Buffet 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Monday through Wednesday - CLOSED**
Thursday – Free Continental Breakfast 7-10 a.m. for overnight guests* CLOSED for Lunch. Dinner 4-8 p.m.
Friday through Saturday – Free Continental Breakfast 7-10 a.m. for overnight guests*; Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. Dinner 4-8 p.m.
(Friday and Saturday night buffets will be determined based on business. Please call park to check.)
*Denotes a free continental breakfast for lodge and cottage guests served in Lewis Caveland Lodge lobby.

Dates: March 16 – December 12
Sunday - Thursday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
(Friday and Saturday night buffets will be determined based on business. Please call park to check. Regular Friday and Saturday night buffets will begin April 3rd)
Sunday lunch buffet 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

**Open until 9 p.m. Memorial Day Weekend through October 31.
(Times and Meals are SUBJECT TO CHANGE without notice. The restaurant will be CLOSED the hour in between each meal for cleanup and preparation for the next meal.)

Things to Do
Gem Mining
Stop by the Carter Caves Gem Mine, located at the Welcome Center Gift Shop. 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 the Sunday after Thanksgiving (weather permitting).

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.

Smoky 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 Kentucky Department 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.

Gift Shop at the Welcome Center
The Welcome Center should be your first stop as it provides all the information you need to make the most of your visit to Carter Caves. This includes cave tour, trail, and facility information along with rest rooms and the gift shop. Our gift shop features Kentucky handcrafts and a selection of bat items and books by Kentucky authors. Souvenirs, candles, jellies, coal crafted items, snacks and drinks are also on sale.

Open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. (9-6 daily Memorial Day-Labor Day.) 

Discover the above ground beauty of Carter Caves on 33 miles of wooded nature trails. These trails highlight many fascinating geological features, including natural bridges, arches, caves, sinkholes, cliffs and a boxed canyon. Trails range from easy to difficult hiking level ability. The trail system supports over 15 miles of multi-use trails for hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders.

Miniature Golf
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.
  • Adults: $5
  • Children: $4
Bring your own boat to experience the beauty and rugged undisturbed terrain of the 45-acre Smoky Lake. During the summer months, guided trips of Smoky Lake allow visitors of all experience levels to paddle the lake by canoe, kayak or paddleboard. Experienced paddlers can enjoy a scenic trip on Tygart Creek offered during the spring. Call the department of Recreation for more information.

Picnic tables, grills, and playgrounds are located throughout the park. Two rental shelters are available.

Playgrounds are located throughout the park.

Rappelling and Rock Climbing Area
Experienced rappellers and rock climbers can now self-guide their adventure activities. The location consists of a nice sandstone cliffline which provides a great 30–40 foot rappel or climb.

Rules and Regulations
  • Rappelling and climbing are permitted in this designated area only.
  • Rappelling and climbing by permit only. (Permits to be completed at the front desk of the lodge.)
  • Rappelling and top rope climbing are permitted.
  • Sport routes or traditional climbing are not permitted.
  • Setting bolts is not permitted.
  • Rappellers and climbers must use pre-existing installed anchors for rigging.
  • Trees may be used only as access line anchors to reach pre-existing installed bolts.
  • Rope pads must be used when rigging trees.
  • You may not rappel or climb on tree anchors.
  • No rappelling or climbing alone.
  • Area open during daylight hours only.
  • You must return your permit after you leave the area.

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 a.m. to 7 p.m., Memorial Day - Labor Day.
  • Campers: $3
  • Adults: $5 per adult
  • Children: $4
  • Pool parties are available 7-10 p.m. Contact our group sales office.


Two tennis courts are in the lodge area. Overnight guest may check out rackets.

Cave Tours

The Carter County region has the highest concentration of caves to be found in any area of Kentucky. Enjoy a subterranean adventure, created by nature over millions of years. For the current cave tour schedule, click on the Maps, Menus, More link on this page.

Year Round Tours – Tours are offered of Cascade Cave and X-Cave on a daily basis with the exception of a few days around the Christmas Holiday. Check in advance before making your plans.

Seasonal Walking Tours - From Memorial Day to Labor Day, additional walking tours include Saltpeter Cave and flashlight tours of Cascade Cave and X-Cave.

Seasonal Adventure Tours - From Memorial Day to Labor Day, experience an underground adventure of Bat Cave or Saltpeter Cave. These tours allow participants to encounter undeveloped passages that will have you bending, stooping, crawling, climbing and definitely getting wet and muddy. Helmets, headlamps, coveralls and kneepads are included.

Group Cave Tours - Those qualifying as a group can contact the recreation office for more information on walking cave tours, adventure cave tours and group programming.

For additional cave tour information, click here.

All information above is subject to change without notice.