There was a time when Kentucky was considered America's "out west." Frontiersman Daniel Boone cleared the Wilderness Road, hunted and trapped and made a life in Kentucky before the United States was officially formed.
At over 2 million acres, Daniel Boone National Forest tells Kentucky's tale of adventure well. Steep rugged slopes, sandstone cliffs and sharp ravines cut into the terrain of the Appalachian Mountains. Red River Gorge, the 333-mile Sheltowee Trace Trail, and places like Cumberland Lake provide fishing, hunting, backpacking and camping at its finest level.
In hunting areas like Clifty Wilderness, it's easy to put yourself in Boone's shoes. A vast wilderness area, it provides peaceful solitude and the pursuit of big game and small game alike. Kentuckians hunt whitetail deer, black bear and elk deep in Kentucky's wilderness. If you look closely, maybe you can still see Boone and his hunting companions roasting wild turkey over a campfire and eating spoonbread as they trade stories from their adventures.
Moving inland toward the center of the state, you'll come into horse country. Kentucky's Inner Bluegrass Region is packed with farms and ranches producing horses, especially thoroughbreds. Thirty percent of the national foaling total comes right from Kentucky with sales surpassing $4 billion and making horses the state's second-most profitable agricultural commodity. These rich, fertile hills are filled with limestone, which feeds calcium into the area. In turn, the calcium is an important soil nutrient that supports the state's dominant blugrass, which Kentucky thoroughbreds and its larger horse population thrive on. Strong bones equal strong horses, and the Bluegrass State is known around the world for producing winners.
Eastern Kentucky's ancient woods are one-of-a-kind. At the Blanton Forest State Nature Preserve, the biggest old-growth forest in the state scatters more hardwood species throughout its acreage than the forested areas in almost any other state. In the eastern United States, trees often deteriorate and die — not from chainsaws, but due to natural causes. Kentucky's forests are preserved, making them one of a kind. They are always worth a quiet walk and a contemplative look.
Kentucky offers full seasons to enjoy all nature has to offer. The flowing streams and rivers fuel diverse habitats with rugged scenery and thriving wildlife. Spring carpets the state's forest floors with wildflowers and lush foliage, soon inhabited by gobbling wild-turkey toms.
Summers are hot, sunny and enjoyable. Rivers and lakes are full of fun and fish. Fall in the state draws you to river-bottom harvests, mountain views of sugar maples and oaks, rutting big bucks and even echoing bugles of bull elk. Winters are short, but with 11 inches of snow annually, there's just enough in Kentucky's peaks to enjoy a white Christmas.