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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
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General Information

Description -

" Thanks to the vision of Congress, who in 1940 authorized Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, visitors today can still bask in its beauty and immerse themselves in its rich history.

The story of the first doorway to the west is commemorated at the national park, located where the borders of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia meet. Carved by wind and water, Cumberland Gap forms a major break in the formidable Appalachian Mountain chain. First used by large game animals in their migratory journeys, followed by Native Americans, the Cumberland Gap was the first and best avenue for the settlement of the interior of this nation. From 1775 to 1810, the Gap's heyday, between 200,000 and 300,000 men, women, and children from all walks of life, crossed the Gap into "Kentuckee."

Attractions - Cumberland Gap National Historical Park preserves a natural passage through the Appalachian Mountains and the region around it. Located in southeastern Kentucky the gap was first used by large game animals in their migratory journeys. Native Americans eventually began using the pass while hunting. It was later used for the settlement of the interior of this nation. In the late 1700s more than 200,00 men, women, and children crossed the Gap into the unknown land of Kentucky.

Recreation - Today Cumberland Gap is a place for exploration and recreation. A good place to gather information about the myriad of recreation opportunities within the park is the Visitor Center on US Highway 25E. Exhibits, artifacts and a film at the Visitor Center tell the story of the Gap as a transportation corridor. Ranger guided activities usually begin from the visitor center or other developed sites. At Cumberland Gap National Historical Park visitors are invited to enjoy mountain music demonstrations, tours to Hensley Settlement, walks along the Wilderness Road and campfire programs

There are many scenic driving opportunities for individuals who visit Cumberland Gap and 55 miles of hiking and horseback riding trails on site. Several trails lead to Hensley Settlement, a restored mountain community within the park, that provides an interactive introduction to the self-sufficient lifestyle of early pioneer life.

Camping in the park is permitted in developed and backcountry sites. Wilderness Road Campground, located off Highway 58 in Virginia, is open year-round with 160 sites for tent, trailer and RV campers. Electrical hookups and showers are available. Campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis. Backcountry campsites are located throughout the park and require a backcountry use permit.

Climate - Summers in the region surrounding Cumberland Gap are hot and humid, with temperatures commonly in the mid to upper 90s. Winters are generally mild with rain and some periods of snow January through March. Temperatures usually range in the 30s and 40s. If hiking in the backcountry, please remember that temperatures drop four degrees for every 1000 feet in elevation.

Location - This 20,000 acre national park is located in the eastern deciduous forests of southeast Kentucky, southwest Virginia and northeast Tennessee.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Lisa Huffman (Pikeville, KY)
Number of People Encountered: 25-50 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: When visiting Cumberland Gap, you must visit the Falls, day and night. Both experiences are equally as wonderful, yet remarkably different. The campground is well-maintained, but some sites are quite rocky and shower stalls are limited, and you must choose your timing well if there are many campers. We were surprised with the abundance of wildlife--the kids had never seen skunks before, but saw quite a few on this trip. The hiking was great! The trails are pretty, and range from easy to moderate, in my opinion. Below the falls is a nice beach-like area to relax and get your feet wet. There are some good places to eat within 20 miles of the campground, but if you want to stay in the park, it's better to make sure you have all needed supplies and food with you, as it could be a pain to drive so far out to pick up something you'd forgotten.

More Information

Contact Information:
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, P.O. Box 1848 , Middlesboro, KY, 40965, Phone: 606-248-2817

Additional Information:
Kentucky's Historic Sites -

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park - Official agency website


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