Carter Caves is home to many memories for people near and far, but “Kentucky’s best kept secret” has more to offer than what can be seen.

To Coy Ainsley, park naturalist, Carter Caves holds endless opportunities to connect with nature and with family beyond the caves.

“Most of the things they think about here are the caves. A lot of people come into the park and as far as they make it is this welcome center. They want to go do a tour and then be on for their day,” said Ainsley.

While the 40 caves the park features take up a large portion of the attention given to their attractions, the park also offers miniature golf, hiking, mountain biking, and a pool among other seasonal activities.

This summer, the park has released an activity schedule that spans from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“They can range anywhere from making a Carter Caves tie dye T-shirt to throwing tomahawks,” said Ainsley.

The activity schedule can be seen on their Facebook page at Carter Caves State Resort Park.

Activities available for children and adults can include Campfire programs, slack lining, night hikes, karaoke, weekly dances at the campground, cave-in movies in Cascade Cave, paddle trips on Smoky Lake, an escape room in Salt Petre Cave and rappelling.

“Our natural bridge rappel events are where people can come and they can do a 60-foot rappel without having any experience or anything. We just charge like five bucks a drop for that,” said Ainsley.

Among seven natural bridges at the park, Fern Bridge is among the top five widest spanning natural bridges east of the Mississippi River.

The bridges can be seen on the park’s trails, 15 of which are multi-use for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.

“The day and age we’re in just seems like everyone is so connected. Everybody has got their face in their devices,” said Ainsley. “There’s not a whole lot of social interaction with people real time, so the park provides a place that people can come and I feel that it gives people an experience that they can’t get at home or in the car.”

The park is always open to people who want to see nature or who need an escape from life indoors.

“It’s the locals’ backyards and I don’t think a lot of locals take advantage of what’s here,” said Ainsley. “The park is here for everybody. Of course it’s here to bring tourism dollars to the community and to the park from people out of state or from farther away in Kentucky, but it’s also here for our locals to come out and enjoy.”

For questions about Carter Caves State Resort Park, call 286-4411.

Daneyl Tackett can be reached at dtackett@journal-times.com or by telephone at 784-4116.

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