If there is one thing that Kentucky does well – it is fall! These are some of the best places to experience fall in Kentucky!
We tried to keep this list more nature-filled rather than just city breaks.
We definitely think that fall is one of the best times to find yourself in a park or out on a hike to enjoy the vibrant colors of the leaves and brisk autumn air.
Where is your favorite place for colorful fall foliage in Kentucky? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!
Best Places for Fall in Kentucky
Daniel Boone National Forest
The Daniel Boone National Forest provides visitors with many opportunities to explore the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, but especially in the fall.
Some visitor-favorite activities include biking, rock climbing, boating, and kayaking. It’s one of the best destinations for rock climbing in Kentucky.
The Red River Gorge is one of the main attractions here (see more below!) because it has unique geological formations and sandstone arches and while it is beautiful during the Kentucky winter, it really shines during fall!
The national forest spans over 2 million acres and 21 counties, so there’s definitely a lot to explore.
Although it’s a must-visit any time of the year, the Kentucky national forest is especially popular in the fall. You can even take a zipline tour to check out the Kentucky fall foliage from above.
The park also offers walking tours for those looking to get a bit active when visiting Daniel Boone National Forest.
Red River Gorge and Zilpo Scenic Byways
As mentioned above, the Red River Gorge is one of Daniel Boone National Forest’s beloved landmarks. It cuts through the gorge and has 150 sandstone arches.
It also offers rock shelters, jagged cliffs, natural bridges, and some of Kentucky’s most famous waterfalls.
Rock climbing, hiking, and mountain biking are some of the best ways to explore the natural beauty.
Nearby in the national forest, you’ll find the Zilpo Scenic Byway, which is a popular spot for sightseers and campers to check out the state’s backcountry.
Even though the byway is only 12 miles long, visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of a KY fall as they explore the mountain scenery and farmland.
It really is a wonderful Louisville day trip for nature lovers.
Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway
To enjoy even more of Kentucky’s scenic drives in the fall, be sure to check out the Woodlands Trace National Scenic Byway, which is located in the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
The Woodlands Trace, which is the most traveled route, moves toward Tennessee as well. You can also check out Kentucky Lake Drive, which is great for motorists, hikers, and bikers, and has plenty of spots for picnicking, too.
The Elk and Bison Prairie is another favorite because of all the animals you can see year-round.
Be sure to visit in September or October for some of the best displays of elk and bison, as well as elk bugling, which is an uncommon occurrence in this part of the US!
Bernheim Forest is another popular destination in Kentucky for the fall.
Visitors have the opportunity to hike trails, go fishing, enjoy public art, and read under the trees.
The forest also offers many programs to participate in to enjoy the outdoors even more. There are more than 40 miles of trails to explore.
If you want to check out the beautiful trees from above, be sure to go on the Canopy Tree Walk, which is a short boardwalk that gives you views from 75 feet above and is good for a romantic stroll with your partner (or even alone!).
If you have children, be sure to take them to play at the Children’s Play Garden, which allows children to get creative as they have fun.
Cumberland Gap National Historic Site
Cumberland Gap is one of the most beautiful locations in the state!
Located right on the border of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia, Cumberland Gap has a long history, as early Native Americans passed through the park, as well as English-speaking settlers in the 1700s.
Nowadays, visitors are able to hike along 85 miles of trails, which feature stunning fields of wildflowers and meadows.
The hawk migration takes place in the fall, which many visitors enjoy watching.
You can also go on a 2-hour tour of Gap Cave, an underground cathedral with stalagmites and cascades, which also has marks made by soldiers from the Civil War.
Bluegrass Country Driving Tour
This tour is a great way to explore Kentucky and all of its beautiful fall foliage! On this driving tour, you will be able to see all the colors as you pass through Lexington’s back roads.
The self-guided Bluegrass Country Driving Tour includes a trip through the horse farm country, which is one of the main features that Kentucky is known for as the “Horse Capital of the World”.
Although people also take the tour any time throughout the year, it is especially beautiful in the fall because of the trees and landscapes.
The tour also goes through Old Frankfort Pike, which is considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the US.
Frankfort is a city in Kentucky’s Bluegrass country and the state capital. It’s known for its pastures with thoroughbred horses and stunning forests.
The city features many events, especially in the fall, such as the Bourbon & History Walking Tour, festivals, art galleries, tours, and more.
You can also check out the different parks in the town, including Dolly Graham Park, East Frankfort Park, and Cove Spring Park. Fall festivals generally take place during the season, so be sure to keep an eye out for when it’s scheduled.
You can also check out state landmarks, such as the State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion, which are some of the best Frankfort attractions!
Horse Country near Lexington
Kentucky Horse Country is one of the state’s most prized attractions, as it is home to farms, nurseries, racetracks, feed mills, and so much more.
At the nurseries, you can see where the future racehorses grow up with their mothers. Tour a stud farm, where thoroughbred horses are bred and raised.
Horse Country offers plenty of tours for anyone from horse enthusiasts to equestrians and everyone in between.
Be sure to check out the website to book any of the multiple private tours of Horse Country’s farms and clinics.
In the fall, not only will you be able to enjoy the beautiful horses, but the stunning landscapes as well, perfect for some of the best leaf-peeping in Kentucky.
Another perk of this area is that you will also find many of the best apple orchards in Kentucky located here.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park is famous for its underground Mammoth Cave, which is the main site that visitors want to see when they visit!
However, above ground, the stunning Kentucky fall foliage is not to be missed. It is one of the most popular destinations in the country for viewing the fall colors.
Be sure to explore the forests, rivers, and mountains as the trees change into stunning colors of gold, orange, and red.
The peak season to visit is from early to middle October. Hiking, bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, boating, fishing, and horseback riding are among the best activities the park has to offer.
Lake Cumberland State Resort Park
Lake Cumberland State Resort Park is another one of the state’s many beautiful state parks where you can check out gorgeous scenery from fall in Kentucky.
Aside from hiking, the national park is known for its waterfront activities, especially fishing.
For those who love an adrenaline rush, you can also rent a houseboat and sleep on the water (I have done this several years ago on a weekend trip from Cincinnati).
The park offers cabins and cottage rentals, so you can get a stunning view of the vast colorful forests right from your window.
Birding, boating, disc golf, fishing, geocaching, mini-golf, and picnicking are also fan favorites, especially during the fall.
Taylorsville Lake State Park
Taylorsville Lake State Park is located only 30 minutes from Louisville. Here, you can participate in activities such as boating, kayaking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and camping.
This is one of the most beautiful locations in the country for horseback riding, and with the 24 miles of trails inside of the KY state park, anyone from hikers to equestrians is sure to enjoy the ride.
The campgrounds are open until the winter, so you can spend the night in an RV or tent. Also, people enjoy checking out the wildlife in the park, especially the bald eagles.
Overall, this is another stunning location to visit in Kentucky in the fall for its landscapes.
Natural Bridge State Park
Natural Bridge State Park is especially a must if you want to experience some of the beautiful fall foliage in KY.
If you’re visiting in the fall, be sure to reserve a private cottage, because this is where you will be able to get the most beautiful views.
Other fun activities include hiking to Natural Bride, riding the sky lift, exploring the Red River Gorge, participating in square dancing, hiking Henson’s Arch, and touring the Natural Bridge Cave.
The sky lift is open until the end of October, so you can enjoy it in the early fall.
Birding, canoeing, fishing, kayaking, mini-golf, pedal boating, and picnicking are other activities to participate in.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is one of the most stunning locations in the state.
People especially enjoy going to see the Cumberland Falls waterfall, which is one of the only places in the world that produces moonbows.
Moonbows are formed just like regular rainbows, and they can appear for more than 2 days. You can generally see them between the 18th and 22nd of each month, including in the fall.
Other activities here include birding, camping, fishing, gem mining, hiking, horseback riding, picnicking, swimming, and rafting.
You can also our the Pinnacle Knob Fire Tower, hike Eagle Falls Trail, and experience the Rainbow Mist Ride as some of the park’s most popular activities.
You will also find some of the state’s beautiful covered bridges close by.
Did we miss any of the best locations to experience fall in Kentucky? Let us know in the comments! Thanks!
More Kentucky Travel Guides
- Best places to visit in Kentucky
- Apple picking in Kentucky
- Things to do in Paducah
- Winter in Kentucky
- Covered bridges in Kentucky
- Weekend getaways in Kentucky
- Waterfalls in Kentucky
- Romantic getaways in Kentucky
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she has lived all around the world (including Germany, Finland, Norway, etc) but her heart always finds its way back to Virginia. This blog is to help encourage travelers to explore the great state of VA… and its wonderful neighbors! Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s Travel, the New York Times, and more. She has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries… and wholeheartedly believes that Brunswick Stew is probably the greatest food to ever exist.