We were in Bowling Green, KY, for a few days in the middle of September and enjoyed our stay. Bowling Green is the third-largest city in Kentucky (after Louisville and Lexington) and is located in the south central part of the state about an hour north of Nashville, TN. The town was established in 1798 by pioneer settlers from Virginia and became a steamboat and railroad hub through the 1800’s and 1900’s. Today the city boasts a healthy economy with several industries calling Bowling Green home, including Fruit of the Loom, International Paper, and, of course, the General Motors Corvette assembly plant. There are several enjoyable attractions in Bowling Green that we explored and definitely recommend if you’re in the area.
We have stayed at Carter Caves State Resort Park every year for close to 20 years for family reunions but this was the first time staying in the campground. We have always stayed in the cottages, but this time we really appreciated being in the RV and having all the comforts of home. We arrived on a Wednesday and had the park to ourselves until Friday night. Through the weekend, the campground is VERY full of families having good camping fun.
This campground is a definite challenge for big rigs. From I-64, you will find yourself on very curvy KY-182 to get to the park entrance. KY-182 has some low-hanging limbs and several blind curves, and the local drivers take these curves at road speed ! Coming in on the park road to the campground requires successfully navigating an uphill hair pin curve to the left. Then, getting to our site required shimmying around a hard right curve between trees and ditches. Fortunately, we made it safely to our back-in site with no damages. Then getting back out, of course, requires you to navigate the hair pin turn downhill to the right and curvy KY-182 back to the interstate. Christina went ahead in the Jeep and blocked any oncoming traffic around the curves as needed so Scott could have access to as much road as needed to make the curves.
The camp sites are actually fairly roomy and level considering this is a state park and located in hilly eastern Kentucky. There are picnic tables on concrete patios and fire rings at each site. We were glad to have full hook ups with 50 Amp service. Of course, there is no WiFi or TV service, but our cell signal worked just fine. Our site was on the east end of the campground overlooking the mini golf course which gave it a spacious feel when sitting outdoors.
This campground sits in the middle of the state park’s 2,000 acres of forest and hilly, rocky terrain. The park does have a wide range of amenities and activities. Of course, as the name would suggest, there are several caves on the property with a very good visitor center where you can arrange for cave tours. The main lodge contains an on-site restaurant open 7 days a week (except Christmas through April 14 when it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesdays), along with meeting rooms. There is a very nice creek and 45-acre lake with fishing and canoeing available. The park boasts an equestrian campground and 15 miles of multi-use trails for riding, trail biking, and hiking with an additional 15 miles of hiking trails. An area for rock climbing and rappelling has been designated for experienced climbers. There is a seasonal pool, mini golf, and numerous naturalist programs and special events.
As you might expect, signs of budget constraints common to publicly-owned facilities are evident throughout the state park. Most of the facilities are showing significant signs of wear. That said, the park staff do a good job of keeping things functional and arrange some seasonal decorations to provide a cheery appearance for guests’ enjoyment. Staff are generally cheerful and respond well to resolving issues.
All in all, we gave this campground a “B” because we like the quiet atmosphere and proximity to natural areas, and it meets our expectations for a national or state park campground. In addition, there are numerous activities available, and we really appreciate the convenience of an on-site restaurant.
For a printable summary of this review, click this link: Campground Review – KY – Carter Caves State Resort Park-Olive Hill
Please see this post for more understanding of how we rate campgrounds: Our Idea of a Perfect Campground
We welcome your comments or questions about this campground below.