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ISSUE: Gas prices threaten summer travel
OUR VIEW: Don’t forget Kentucky state parks
Price of gas shattering your summer vacation dreams?
It doesn’t have to, especially for those of us fortunate to live in the Heartland of Central Kentucky. There are exciting opportunities for recreation, adventure and educational experiences nearly in our own back yards.
Others of less fortunate geography are forced to drive hundreds, even thousands of miles to take advantage of the opportunities we too often take for granted within a few hours and a tankful of gas from our Kentucky homes.
Whatever you and your family, friends or loved ones are looking for, the Bluegrass State has it.
Water sports? Kentucky has 170 public lakes and reservoirs, 34,000 miles of streams and 114 miles of wild rivers for rafting, fishing, canoeing and swimming.
Hiking? Rock climbing? That’s not many gallons away, either. Kentucky State parks have more than 250 miles of trails. Tourists from all over travel to the Red River Gorge in Eastern Kentucky to hike and climb, camp out and photograph some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere.
If you just want to get away from everyday routine, there is a choice right in our own state between 52 parks with comfortable lodges at unbelievably low rates, many of them recently remodeled. Many serve great meals in dining rooms with panoramic views of, for instance, Lake Barkley or Kentucky Lake or the Cumberland River.
The state has 24 recreation parks including nearby Nolin and Taylorsville lakes. There are 17 state resort parks each with a restaurant featuring regional and specialty dishes, 11 state historic sites, 19 state park golf courses, even 11 beaches.
Then, of course, Mammoth Cave National Park is just south of here, and a few hours to the west, the famed Land Between the Lakes presents unlimited opportunities for outdoor activities including a peek into the past observing herds of bison and elk.
If the outdoors is not your thing, there’s the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro (not to mention the barbecue), the Newport Aquarium in Northern Kentucky, the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Renfro Valley and a 1,200 acre Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
This editorial didn’t start out to sound like some kind of chamber of commerce promoting the state parks — although State Auditor Crit Luallen has said the parks need to be marketed better — but the more we wrote, the more we realized just how proud we are of this state’s park and recreation systems. So are others, just notice the many out-of-state licenses on vehicles in the parks.
One thing’s for sure, if you let high gas prices ruin your summer, it’s your own fault. All you have to do is just look in your own Kentucky back yard.
For more information to plan your summer fun, and possibly to win a daily prize, log on to http://mykentuckybackyard.com
— This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.