Flooding in Eastern Kentucky has impacted our friends and neighbors in many areas of The Kentucky Wildlands. Some locations were affected, but not all. We are still welcoming visitors and encourage you to check with specific destinations and attractions to ensure that they are open and if they have any change in offerings or hours.

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National Heritage Area

The process is underway to designate southern and eastern Kentucky as the Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area. The Secretary of the Interior is undertaking The Kentucky Wildlands National Heritage Area Feasibility Study to determine whether the region meets the requirements to become Kentucky’s first National Heritage Area. Congressman Hal Rogers and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed companion bills in the House and Senate to begin the federal process in December 2019.

National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural and historic resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes. Unlike national parks, National Heritage Areas are large lived-in landscapes. Consequently, National Heritage Area entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs. Since 1984, 55 National Heritage Area designations have been made across the United States.

As a National Heritage Area, The Kentucky Wildlands would receive technical assistance and federal funding through a partnership with the National Park Service. The National Park Service is a partner and advisor, leaving decision-making authority in the hands of local people and organizations. The National Park Service does not assume ownership of land inside heritage areas or impose land use controls.

The NPS provides this list of some of the long-term benefits of National Heritage Area activities:

  • Sustainable economic development — National Heritage Areas leverage federal funds (averaging $5.50 for every $1.00 of federal investment) to create jobs, generate revenue for local governments, and sustain local communities through revitalization and heritage tourism.
  • Healthy environment and people — Many National Heritage Areas improve water and air quality in their regions through restoration projects and encourage people to enjoy natural and cultural sites by providing new recreational opportunities. 
  • Improved quality of life — Through new or improved amenities, unique settings, and educational and volunteer opportunities, National Heritage Areas improve local quality of life.
  • Education and stewardship — National Heritage Areas connect communities to natural, historic and cultural sites through educational activities, which promote awareness and foster interest in and stewardship of heritage resources.
  • Community engagement and pride — By engaging community members in heritage conservation activities, National Heritage Areas strengthen sense of place and community pride.

Hidden Gems in the Kentucky Wildlands

Bear Wallow Farm

Create memories and traditions with some down-home fun on the farm. Visit a 1900...

Black Mountain Off-Road Adventure Area

This 7,000 acre Black Mountain Offroad Adventure area is every outdoor enthusiasts...

Highlands Museum & Discovery Center

History and heritage along with energy and excitement come together on the Country...

Worth Adding to Your Kentucky Bucket List

Morehead

Whether it’s a leisurely stroll along the historic downtown walking trail, a scenic bike ride on the Cave Run Loop (both bicycle and motorcycle), a rugged hike on 1,400-foot Limestone Knob, rock climbing one of 60 routes on the crag at...