Olympic National Park and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area
Any traveler to Olympic National Park can confirm that variety truly is the spice of life, especially for outdoor enthusiasts. In this popular park, you will find vistas from snow-covered mountains to ancient forests to ocean tide pools mean nearly endless opportunities for recreation.
The same goes for a newer, more obscure member of the park system: Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. This park was established in 1974 to preserve both the Big South Fork River and the land around it for the boundless recreational opportunities they offer.
Explore the park’s trail system on foot, mountain bike, or horseback. Opportunities for camping and backpacking abound. Springtime visitors will enjoy the abundance of native trees and wildflowers on the Cumberland Plateau.
River rats shouldn’t miss a day on the water here—whitewater rafting the Big South Fork is a must. Climbers, too, can find their place at Big South Fork along the plateau’s famous sandstone walls.
For those accustomed to a slower pace, try the Big South Fork Scenic Railway, which chugs along from Stearns, Kentucky, to the historic Blue Heron Mining Community, providing insight into the role coal mining plays in the past and present of this area. With so many options, be sure to stop by one of the two visitor centers to get maps and guidance from rangers.