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Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
IUCN Category V (Protected Landscape/Seascape)

Fog at Cumberland Gap
Location Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, USA
Nearest city Middlesboro, Kentucky
Coordinates 36°36′15″N 83°41′14″W / 36.60417°N 83.68722°W / 36.60417; -83.68722Coordinates: 36°36′15″N 83°41′14″W / 36.60417°N 83.68722°W / 36.60417; -83.68722
Area 20,508 acres (8,299 ha)
Established June 11, 1940
Visitors 1,006,447 (in 2005)
Governing body National Park Service

Established on June 11, 1940, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park located at the border between Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

The Cumberland Gap is a sizable natural break in the Appalachian Mountains. The gap was long used by Native Americans, as many species of migratory animals passed through it from north to south each year. It was fertile hunting territory and the only easy cut through the mountains from the southern wintering grounds of wild deer and buffalo to their northern summer range. Starting around 1775, the Gap became the primary route of transit for American settlers moving west into Kentucky; between 1775 and 1810 as many as 300,000 settlers may have used the Gap.

The current Park preserves the natural beauty of the surrounding area while focusing more on historic preservation, including tours through the old Hensley Settlement, trips into Gap Cave, also known as Cudjo's Cave, (once used for shelter by traveling Indians and settlers), campfire programs and demonstrations of the settlers' lifestyle, Living History events, and Appalachian music festivals and concerts. In recent years, the former roadbed of U.S. Highway 25E through the park was restored to an early 19th century wagon path; this was made possible with the 1996 completion of the Cumberland Gap Tunnel, which rerouted US 25E under the park.

The park lies in parts of Bell and Harlan counties in Kentucky, Claiborne County in Tennessee, and Lee County in Virginia. The park contains the Kentucky-Virginia-Tennessee tri-state area, accessible via a short trail.

The Park covers 20,508 acres (8,299 ha), and saw just over 1 million visitors in 2005.

The Cumberland Gap Visitor Center is located on U.S. Highway 25E just south of Middlesboro, Kentucky. The visitor center features a museum with interactive exhibits about the Gap's role as a transportation corridor, an auditorium that shows films about the area's cultural and natural history, a book store and the Cumberland Crafts gift shop. The visitor center is open every day except Christmas.

Included in the park is Hensley Settlement, an early 20th century Kentucky mountain community that has been preserved by the park service as representative of the early settler's life on top of Brush Mountain. Two families by the name of Hensley and Gibbons moved to the mountain to escape the many changes that were taking place in the early 1900s. Eventually, more family members followed and a community was begun. A church and school was established under the jurisdiction of the Bell County School System of Bell County, Kentucky. Settlers continued their pioneer lifestyle until future generations began accepting employment and marriage partners off the mountain. Sherman Hensley, the founder of the settlement, was the last to leave in 1951.

External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

North America : United States of America : South : Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park[1] is a United States National Park, spanning the states of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia.



Summers at Cumberland Gap are hot and humid, with temperatures commonly in the mid to upper 90s. Winters are generally mild with rain and some periods of snow January through March. Temperatures usually range in the 30s and 40s. Weather can sometimes be unpredictable, especially at higher elevations.

If hiking in the backcountry, please remember that temperatures at higher elevations are five to ten degrees cooler.

Get in

The closest major airport is located in Knoxville, Tennessee approximately 85 miles away

Visitors traveling on Interstate 75 in Kentucky should exit on Highway 25E at Corbin. Cumberland Gap is located 50 miles south of Corbin on 25E.

There is no public transportation in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Get Around

Backcountry trails lead to remote, wilderness areas. Backcountry camping is allowed in designated sites with a permit. Permits are free of charge and must be obtained at the park visitor center.


Cumberland Gap has no entrance fees. Backcountry camping requires a free permit, obtainable from the Visitor Center (see below).



Wilderness Road Campground

The Wilderness Road Campground is located approximately 3 miles from the park visitor center off of Highway 58 in Virginia. It has 160 sites in a beautiful wooded setting. 30 and 50 amp electrical hookups are available at 41 of the sites. Hot showers and potable water are located in the comfort stations. A dump station is located near the campground entrance. Campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Campground is open year around. Camping fees are $12.00 per night per site for tent sites with no electricity and $17.00 per night per site for electrical hookup.

Backcountry Camping

Backcountry trails lead to remote, wilderness areas. Backcountry camping is allowed in designated sites with a permit. Permits are free of charge and must be obtained at the park visitor center.

Stay safe

Bears are active in the park. Please be sure to store food in a secure location when not in use and dispose of garbage appropriately (either take it with you or place into a park bear proof container). There are two venomous snakes in the park: The Northern Copperhead and the Timber Rattler. These snakes are not a problem if left alone.

This is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


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