Migratory animals such as bison, elk, and deer forged the first paths through the great Appalachian pass known as the Cumberland Gap, and humans followed in their footsteps.
Long known to American Indian peoples such as the Shawnee and the Cherokee, the Cumberland Gap came prominently on the radar of Euro-Americans in the mid-18th century. Frontiersman Daniel Boone made a name for himself by establishing a road through the Cumberland Gap under commission. Boone’s Trace, as it was originally called, became the Wilderness Road, which funneled several hundred thousand settlers westward into the bluegrass country of “Kentuckee” and beyond until 1810.
Set along the boundaries of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park protects this momentous break in the Cumberland Mountains and a long stretch of the ridgeline eastward to the high ramparts of the White Cliffs. From tours and guided spelunking to breathtaking Appalachian vistas and backcountry adventure, this long, narrow park is a must-see for history buffs, nature enthusiasts, and outdoor recreationists.
Here’s a look at the top 5 experiences within this tri-state treasure.