Carter Caves picture

Carter Caves

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


Top Five Things to Do
1. Experience a tour of the scenic Cascade Cave.
2. Grasp the unique geology of the area while seeing 5 natural bridges in the park.
3. Pan for gems and find other exciting goodies at our Gift Shop.
4. Explore the adventure of the Self-Guided Horn Hollow Cave System.
5. Relax and recharge in the Caveland Lodge or Carter Caves Campground, year around!

Lodging & Camping

The Lewis Caveland Lodge offers rooms featuring a private patio overlooking the surrounding woodlands. Rooms available by late afternoon. High speed wireless internet service available at the lodge. The park also has cottages and a campground that's open year-round offering primitive, RV and equestrian campsites. For more campsite photos and camping reservations CLICK HERE. Equestrian campsites available ONLY by calling the park directly at (606) 286-0152. Availability of equestrian campsites may be limited if not booked at least 10 days of arrival. During winter operations, cottages are available 7 days a week and lodge rooms are available Wednesday through Saturday night.

Tierney's Cavern Restaurant
Enjoy gorgeous scenery while dining in the restaurant. As a supporter of the Kentucky Proud program, we use local meats and produce when available. Please call ahead to see if dine in options are available.
Restaurant Hours
May 30 - October 31
Monday Through Saturday
Breakfast 7:30 am – 10:30 am

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Lunch 11:30 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Friday and Saturday
Lunch 11:30 – 4 :00 pm
Dinner 5:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Breakfast 7:30 am – 10:00 am
Lunch 11:30 am -3:00 pm
Dinner 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Backcountry Campsites
Eagles Nest Backcountry Campsite- The Eagles Nest Backcountry campsite is located along the 4 C’s Trail on the southwestern side of Smoky Lake. At this area are two sites available for camping, one available for tent camping, the other provides a half-faced shelter. Both are available for reservation by contacting the front desk at the Lewis Caveland Lodge. The tent site can accommodate up to 4 people and is a very short distance from the half-faced shelter that can accommodate up to 4 people as well. The sites are referred to as Eagle Nest 1 (the half-faced shelter @ $20 per night) and Eagle Nest 2 (the tent camping site @ $15 per night) Please be sure to specify which site you would like to reserve when speaking with the front desk staff. For reservations, call 606-286-4411.

Johnson Homeplace Backcountry Campsite- The Johnson Homeplace Campsite is located along the 4 C’s trail on the southeastern side of Smoky Lake. This site is large enough to accommodate several backpacking tents, but DOES NOT include a half-faced shelter like the Eagles Nest site. Johnson Homeplace is available for reservation at $15 per night and can be made by calling the front desk at the Lewis Caveland Lodge. For reservations, call 606-286-4411.

For a YouTube video of both backcountry campsites CLICK HERE.

Field Trips
Carter Caves State Resort Park offers commercial cave tours, nature hikes, living history programs and various nature programs for grades K-12. We also offer archery and orienteering programs for grades 5-12. You can book a canoe trip for grades 7-12. Program fees per student vary per activity. The park is open year-round and classes can visit any weekday from Labor Day to Memorial Day. For those wanting an extended stay we offer overnight Reach Camps at our park that packages program, meals and lodging into one reasonable price. Contact park interpreter Coy Ainsley at 1-800-325-0059 for information or email [email protected].

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! Located just 10 minutes off I-64 in northeastern Kentucky, your guests will enjoy the comfort and convenience of guest rooms, meeting space and a restaurant all under one roof. Want to get married in a cave? Perhaps a rappelling style wedding is more your thing. At Carter Caves State Resort Park, the adventure seeker can quite the unique wedding. For more information about hosting a group or wedding CLICK HERE or call 606-286-7004.

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! 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 grosbeaks 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.

Cave Tours
The Carter County region has the highest concentration of caves in Kentucky. Enjoy a subterranean adventure, created by nature over millions of years. For the current cave tour schedule, click on the Maps, Menus, More dropdown menu. Year-round tours are offered of Cascade Cave and X-Cave on a daily basis with the exception of a few days around the Christmas Holiday. Seasonal walking tours are offered Memorial Day - Labor Day, additional walking tours include Saltpeter Cave and flashlight tours of Cascade Cave and X-Cave. Seasonal adventure tours are from Memorial Day to Labor Day of Bat Cave or Saltpeter Cave. Helmets, headlamps, coveralls and kneepads included. Expect to get wet and muddy.
Group cave tours can be arranged, those qualifying as a group can contact the recreation office for more information on walking cave tours, adventure cave tours and group programming opportunities. Check in advance before making plans. All information above is subject to change without notice.

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. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during winter operational hours. 

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
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.
Fees: 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.
The Kiddie Pool has CLOSED for the remainder of the pool season due to mechanical issues.
***Effective August 16***
Pool will be open
Friday 4pm to 7pm
Saturday 10am to 7pm
Sunday 10am to 7pm
Monday – Thursday CLOSED
***We will be closing on Labor Day, Monday, September 4th.


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