U.S. National Parks and Monuments
The Cumberland Gap, a sizeable break in the Appalachian Mountains at the intersecting borders of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia, was once a gateway to the West for both man and beast. First used by migrating animals, it was soon discovered by Native Americans and early settlers, who used it to traverse the Appalachians to reach Kentucky. Between 1775 and 1810, over 200,000 people crossed the Cumberland Gap on their journeys west.
The Cumberland Gap was named a National Historic Park by Congress on June 11, 1940, and today gives visitors an interactive look at frontier history. Shuttles are available to take visitors to Hensley Settlement, an authentic Appalachian farmstead settlement established in 1904. There are also tours available for Gap Cave, a large limestone cavern. Visitors can walk along Wilderness Road, the road blazed through Cumberland Gap by Daniel Boone in 1775. The best spot for scenic views is the Pinnacle Overlook, which sits at an elevation of 2,440 feet. There is also a main visitor center with a museum, gifts, and an auditorium. As with many National Parks, there are a number of hiking trails and campsites available.
About the Park
Nearest towns: Middleboro, Kentucky; Cumberland Gap, Tennessee; Tazewell, Tennessee
Hours: The Visitor Center is open daily 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from Memorial Day through October 31, and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from November 1st to Memorial Day. The Visitor Center is closed on Christmas Day; During inclement weather, the road leading to the Pinnacle Overlook may be closed for visitor safety.
Fees: No entrance fee.
Gap Cave tour: $7 for adults, $3.50 for children and seniors
Hensley Settlement tour: $12 for adults, $6 for children
Nearby attractions:: Abraham Lincoln Museum (Harrogate, TN); The Lost Squadron P-38 Recovery and Restoration Museum (Middleboro, KY); Wilderness Road State Park (Ewing, VA); Pine Mountain Trail State Park (Elkhorn City, KY)