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Good For Kids
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The view is pretty good. There are some highways in the distance though which reduce some of its allure.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Closest available address
91 Bartlett Park Road, Middlesboro, KY 40965
Daylight hours are best for the park. Visitor center is open 8am-5pm.
Best time to visit
Summer, Fall, Spring
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a 26,000 acre park in the Appalachian Mountains. The park borders three states and is famous for a mountain gap which served as an important American migration route in the late 18th century. The park has multiple outdoor and historical options including: a scenic overlook, a cave tour, hiking, a museum, and a historic homestead.
Long before Europeans arrived to North America, Indian tribes passed through Cumberland Gap, which is only 300 feet above the valley. Daniel Boone was not the first American to explore the area, but he was the most famous. He journeyed this way in 1769, and a swarm of other settlers followed. The gap played a small but important role in the US Civil War, during which it changed hands several times. Efforts to preserve the area began in the 1920s. The idea took a while to catch on, but eventually legislation to create the park was enacted in 1940. It opened in 1959 after land was acquired.
Having failed to do any planning of any kind prior to visiting here, take to heart a recommendation that you not follow the same plan. You should plan though on spending a day. If you are into caving, the Gap Cave is available by a two hour guided tour only. Also, a 4 hour tour to the historic Hensley settlement (only available in warmer months) is limited to 13 people, so reserve a spot well in advance. There is a decent museum at the visitor center with informative historical displays. The visitor center has two films, one historical and one about nature. A craft guild shop at the visitor center had many uncommon gift options. The drive up to Pinnacle Overlook was steep but very much worth doing for great views of the gap and additional information about the Civil War. Hiking trails abound at this park; a shorter and moderate hike is the 2.4 mile Tri-State Peak Trail, which borders three states. The park has enough attractions to appeal to a range of tastes. It makes for a good family outing as well.
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