Where is Breaks Interstate Park?
Breaks Interstate Park stretches across the border of eastern Kentucky and western Virginia. The closest towns to the park are Breaks, Virginia and Elkhorn City, Kentucky. It’s situated in a quiet, rural area; the only way to get there is by taking Highway 80. Some nearby landmarks include the Russell Fork River and Laurel Lake.
How Big is Breaks Interstate Park?
Breaks Interstate US State Park covers about 4,500 acres which is fitting for its nickname, “Grand Canyon of the South”. The park boundaries are small, but they hold a seemingly endless amount of possibilities for recreation. With miles and miles of trails, drives, rivers, and plenty of lodging options, it’s no wonder it’s so easy for visitors to take advantage of every square inch of Breaks Interstate Park.
Breaks Interstate Park Weather
A summer in the mountains of Kentucky isn't actually as warm and humid as you’d think. In fact, the weather during the spring and summer months is actually quite pleasant. The thick forests provide enough shade from the sun while cool breezes often sweep off the mountains from the western Virginia ranges. Winters are another story, however. Snow and ice are common, and the breeze from the mountains isn’t as relaxing as it is icy. But people visit Breaks Interstate Park year-round, so there’s still plenty to enjoy during the winter months.
When Did Breaks Become an Interstate Park?
Breaks Interstate Park was officially recognized by Parks and Recreation in 1954, but its history dates all the way back to 1767, when Daniel Boone became the first person of European descent to discover the land. Before then, the land was claimed by the early Native American-s. ,
The Shawnee and Cherokee tribes left behind evidence that they used the pre-park boundaries for hunting grounds, and to this day, visitors can walk the same trails they did.
Things To Do in Breaks Interstate Park
Breaks Interstate Park has many different types of terrain, giving visitors a wide range of things to do. Our State Park Visitors Guide outlines activities below.
Breaks Interstate Park is situated in the heart of the Jefferson National Forest, which has some of the most beautiful trails and lookouts in the U.S. In total, the park has about 25 miles of hiking trails that hikers can easily accomplish during their stay. A hotspot to check out is Breaks Canyon, which is about 5 miles long and 1,600 feet deep.
The park has about 12 collective miles of bike trails, too! Whether you’re new to mountain biking or you’re an old hat at it, the bike trails at Breaks Interstate Park cater to a wide range of levels.
There are plenty of places to rock climb along the trails at Breaks. Five official locations feature sandstone walls with anchors, and guides can be hired for first timers.
Breaks Interstate Park owns and operates their own stables for visitors who want to take a tour on horseback. They have adult horses and ponies’ riders of all sizes, and the park staff does an excellent job at leading tours to some of the most gorgeous sights in the park boundaries.
Whitewater rafting is a popular activity among the thrill seekers of the park’s visitors. After renting your gear in Elkhorn City, you’ll be taken down the Russell Fork River with an expert guide.
The Canyon Rim Zipline follows the Russell Fork River and gives guests a birds’ eye view of the massive gorge that gave Breaks Interstate Park its nickname, “Grand Canyon of the South”. The zipline is about a half mile long, and the experienced staff does a great job at ensuring your safety so you can enjoy the view.
For the less adventurous, spending a few hours on Laurel Lake doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Instead of flying down a gorge in a raft, you can slow down your pace in a canoe or pedal boat on Laurel Lake.
All the waterways surrounding Breaks Interstate Park is any fisherman’s dream come true. Bluegill, bass, and rainbow trout run abundantly in Russell Fork, Beaver Pond, and Laurel Lake. Bring your own gear or rent some before heading out to fish for the day.
Splash! In the Park
As if any of their natural resources weren’t enough, Breaks Interstate Park has their very own water park with a 4,000-square foot pool, water slides, in-pool basketball and volleyball courts, and plenty of play areas so your kids can burn their energy while you nap in the sun.
When to Go to Breaks Interstate Park
The best time to catch all the action of Breaks Interstate Park is during the summer. The weather is ideal for outdoor activities and it still cools off at night. If you still want to take advantage of all that Breaks has to offer but without all the fast-paced energy, the fall and spring months might be a great option.
In the fall, you’ll get to see the leaves change color and hike in cooler temperatures. In the spring, you might get some rainy days, which are perfect for staying in your cabin and catching up on some reading.
Overall, List of Parks suggests the best time to go to Breaks Interstate Park depends on why you’re taking a trip there. For plenty of high energy activities, go during the summer. For a more laid-back experience, consider visiting Breaks during the off-season.
Must-Have Things to Bring to Breaks Interstate Park
Everyone’s packing list will depend on what you plan to do at Breaks Interstate Park. Whether you're a thrill seeker who’s already signed up for whitewater rafting and ziplining or you’re planning on finishing your summer reading list, there’s some must-haves that you’ll be glad you had for your trip to Breaks.
Weather in the Pine Mountain Range can be unpredictable, so make sure you bring clothes that you won’t mind getting wet. This will also come in handy if you go white water rafting. While you’re at it, pack a sweater or two for those cold, mountain air nights.
Trash Bags (for you and your pet)
Breaks Interstate Park adheres to a strict “Leave No Trace” policy. If you’re camping outside and planning on a lot of hiking, it will be your sole responsibility to leave the trails better than you found them, and this goes for your pet, too. Bring some trash bags to keep your waste at bay and pick up after your pet.
Remember that you’ll be traveling to a rural area, so bring some extra cash just in case you don’t have access to a bank or ATM. There are some park entrance fees to be aware of:
- Single-day (car): $2
- Single-day (bus): $10
- Season pass: $26
While the Lodge has wifi, it may not always be reliable, so online banking might not be available. Better to be safe than sorry and have some extra cash on your person.
Where to Stay in Breaks Interstate Park
Breaks Interstate Park offers more for lodging than your average state park. Guests can choose from an on-site lodge, cottages, cabins, campgrounds, and a tent-camping area.
The Lodge at Breaks Interstate Park offers 76 furnished rooms, complete with a kitchenette, appliances, and a great view. Smoking and non-smoking rooms are available, as are rooms with varied bed sizes. The Lodge is also pet-friendly and will accommodate any guests who want to bring their pets along for the trip.
Cabins and Cottages
The lakefront cabins comfortably sleep 6-8 people depending on which one you choose. Each cabin comes fully furnished and equipped with everything a large family would need for a long summer vacation.
The cottages at Breaks Interstate Park are rustic and can be found off any of the wooded paths within the park. While they give a more rural experience, the cottages still offer the same amenities as The Lodge and the lakefront cabins.
The campground at Breaks Interstate Park has 138 sites for campers and RVs of all sizes. They also offer yurts, playgrounds, a basketball court, a general store, and laundry facilities.
Food Nearby Breaks Interstate Park
In addition to the general store, Breaks Interstate Park offers dining to its guests through its Rhododendron Restaurant. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
If you want to opt for cooking for yourself during your visit, be sure to grab groceries at any of the supermarkets outside of the park boundaries before setting up camp.
Airports Near Breaks Interstate Park
The closest airport to Breaks Interstate Park is Belcher Regional Airport, a private airport about 30 minutes north of Elkhorn City. Other airports are at least two hours away from the park, so take into account the need for a rental car if you decide to fly. Keep in mind that Breaks Interstate Park is in a very rural area, so all airports within driving distance of the park don’t have control towers, and previous permission is required for landing. The likelihood of finding a rental car company is also slim, so if you can drive, arriving by vehicle would be the best option.