Where is Natural Bridge State Resort Park
2135 Natural Bridge Rd
Slade, KY 40376
Located just 52 miles southeast of Lexington, Kentucky, Natural Bridge US State Resort Park sits along the Middle Fork of the Red River. It is adjacent to the Red River Gorge Geological Area and surrounded by the lush Daniel Boone National Forest. From Lexington, visitors should travel east on I-64 to the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway. Follow the parkway to exit 33 and turn south on KY 11. The park entrance is located a short two miles from the parkway.
How Big Is Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Surrounded by the 708,000-acre Daniel Boone National Forest, Natural Bridge is a 2,200-acre forested park and nature preserve with 22 miles of trails and a 60-acre lake. Its namesake natural bridge is the centerpiece of the park. The natural sandstone arch spans 78 ft (24 m) and is 65 ft (20 m) high. The natural process of weathering formed the arch over millions of years. It is known for its easily accessible camping, hiking, fishing and it’s centerpiece, the natural rock bridge. The park also includes two campgrounds, lodging, and dining facilities where visitors can enjoy this gem of an outdoor location for a day, a weekend or a long summer holiday.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park Weather
The park is open 24 hours per day, year-round, for all visitors. Beauty abounds on the trails and lake as the scenery changes with the seasons. To get a breathtaking view of the bridge and fall foliage, take the sky lift to the top of the bridge any day from 9:30am-5:30pm, weather permitting. Enjoy the birds and wildlife that arrive new each season. May and June is the perfect time to hear the calls of a woodland warbler and winter months can be fun as many leaves have dropped, making it easier to view the abundance of woodpeckers, wrens, sparrows, kinglets and nuthatches. Summertime at Natural Bridge is quite hot and humid, and the colder months will often require a jacket.
When did Natural Bridge become a State Park
Founded as a private tourist attraction in 1895 by the Lexington and Eastern Railroad, the Natural Bridge State Park is one of the oldest in Kentucky. In 1926, the railroad’s president sold over 137 acres to the Kentucky State Park Commission for $1, just as they were establishing the Kentucky state parks system. Natural Bridge is one of Kentucky’s original four state parks.
Things to Do at Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Natural Bridge State Park is one of the oldest and most popular state parks in Kentucky. Below Our National Park Visitors Guide lists opportunities for every visitor to enjoy.
The park's 0.5-mile "Original Trail" to the great, sandstone, natural bridge dates back to the 1890s. With expansive views from the top, the Natural Bridge is a main attraction and an unforgettable experience for everyone who visits the state park.
Reservations are required for the 86 individual campsites located on two separate campgrounds near the park. In addition, the pet-friendly Hemlock Lodge provides 35 rooms with private balconies and is open year-round. The park also has 11 private cottages for rental.
Natural Bridge Cave
Visitors can take an intriguing two-hour guided tour of the Natural Bridge Cave. Registration is located inside of the Hemlock Lodge. This is a great history lesson and adventure for all ages. Tours open just before Memorial Day and continue until Labor day, annually.
Mill Creek Lake is surrounded by lush forest and towering sandstone cliffs. Launch your boat, throw in a line, sit back and relax for the afternoon. A Kentucky fishing license is required. Free fishing equipment can be loaned out to park visitors.
With ten hiking trails to choose from, the avid hiker and the easy goer have plenty of opportunity to explore. The park’s Nature Preserve status prevents dogs from all trails except Whittleton Trail, which is perfect for a hike with your furry friend.
Every season brings a variety of birds to Natural Bridge State Park. Year-round residents include the northern cardinal, American goldfinch, pileated woodpecker and wild turkey. Visitors can spot these and many more feathered friends in full spectacle on Hood’s Branch, Rock Garden, Whittleton, Lakeside Trails and Mill Creek Lake.
Natural Bridge Hoedown
For 45 years, the state park has been famous for hosting traditional Appalachian summer square dances. Every Friday and Saturday, May through October, the party begins at 6:30pm on Hoedown Island. Admission is $3.00/person (ages 12 & under are free).
List of Parks suggests a ride to the top of Natural Bridge on the sky lift. The ascent begins one-half mile from the park entrance and ends within 600 feet of Natural Bridge. Open daily from April through October, this is an unforgettable experience for all.
Enjoy the entire day eating and relaxing with family and friends. There are four picnic shelters with restrooms, tables, grills, and a playground located throughout Natural Bridge State Park. Shelters are available for rental up to one year in advance.
Adults and children can enjoy playing 18 holes of miniature golf located at picnic shelter #2 near the sky lift parking area. Mini golf balls and putters can be rented at the Mini Golf Snack Bar, or if closed, at the front desk of the Hemlock Lodge. Open seasonally.
Take a break from the heat. Open daily from 11am to 7pm, the amazing pool complex includes a main pool, zero-depth pool and a “river” themed pool with directional water jets and floor bubblers. Fees: $5 per adult, $3 per child. FREE to lodge guests.
When to go to Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Natural Bridge State Park is open year-round, 24 hours a day to visitors. No matter the gorgeous Kentucky season, you will find plenty of open trails, lodging, wildlife and water activities to enjoy. The lodge is one of 17 state park lodges for which Kentucky is known. It beckons you to come and get away. Entrance to the park is $5 per adult and $3 per child with additional fees for activities such as camping, the sky lift and swimming. You will always find a crowd of visitors at the park during daylight hours so come early and take in the fresh and crisp morning air or stay late and watch the sun set beneath the forest canopy.
Must-Haves to Bring to Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall, there are must-have items that every visitor should bring to best enjoy the Kentucky outdoors. Don’t forget the following items.
Kentucky can be a “buggy” location. Make sure you pack in the bug spray to keep the mosquitoes away. On trails and water, sunscreen is also advised. No one wants their holiday memories to be filled with bug bites and sunburns.
Hiking Shoes/Swimming Gear
Always come prepared for all of the activities the park has to offer. Depending upon your level of hiking, remember to bring shoes that will protect you from the elements. Swimsuits and towels are necessities for enjoying the park’s vastly entertaining pool complex.
Money for Activities
The cost of entrance to the park is $5 per adult and $3 per child.
Swimming fee: $5 per adult, $3 per child. FREE to lodge and cottage guests.
Sky lift fee: $10 per adult, $7 per child. Cash and credit cards are accepted.
Feel free to pack snacks and drinks for your hike when visiting Natural Bridge. For a bite to eat you can also visit the snack bars and Sandstone Arches Restaurant at the Lodge. This restaurant offers a variety of food prepared and served in a lovely, rustic lodge setting.
From birds and wildlife to viewing your loved ones on top of the bridge, Natural Bridge State Park provides plenty of sites you won’t want to miss. Binoculars and cameras are a fun way to catch and record some unexpected views through the dense Kentucky foliage.
Whether boating, picnicking or hiking, there are supplies that you will need to carry in with you to make your day complete. Chairs, beach towels, camera, proper shoes, fishing license, overnight suitcases...the list goes on and on. Make a checklist so you don’t forget anything to make your day most enjoyable.
Where to stay near Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Individual camping is allowed year-round at the park. The Hemlock Lodge is fully equipped with everything you could need for a comfortable holiday. The lodge ranges in price per night, starting at approximately $200. This includes a free breakfast, balcony overlooking the forest, a pool and kitchenette. You can also find many Airbnb cabins and smaller lodges in nearby towns or travel back to Lexington to enjoy the city life.
Food nearby Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Two snack bars full of your favorite treats are located within the park. One is located near the swimming pool, the other near the sky lift. The lodge offers dining for visitors at their Sandstone Arches Restaurant. It is open for both dine in or carry out daily. Hours: Breakfast 7-10 a.m., Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Dinner 4-9 p.m.
Airports near Natural Bridge State Resort Park
The nearest airport to the park is Blue Grass Airport, which is 65 miles from the resort village. Take Interstate 64 east from Lexington. Take exit 33 and turn south on KY 11. This one-hour drive will deliver you straight to the entrance of the park. You can also find small airports in the area to accommodate private airplane travelers.