Breaks Interstate State Park is a bi-state public recreation area located in both Virginia and Kentucky – 2 ½ hours south of Charleston, VA and 4 hours east of Louisville, KY.
This Virginia State Park is part of Jefferson National Forest and consists of 4,600 acres of forest, river, waterfalls, a lake and a 5-mile gorge on the VA-KY border.
Also known as ‘The Grand Canyon of the South’, this little known natural wonder of the Appalachian Mountains offers breathtaking views. And opportunities to raft, hike, rock climb, zipline and camp.
The name ‘Breaks’ comes from the break (1,000 foot gorge) in Pine Mountain that was created by the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River over a period of 250 million years.
Breaks Interstate State Park is a great place to visit for a day or stay overnight. The park’s amenities include a hotel style lodge with a conference center and restaurant, a well stocked camp store, a playground, basketball court and a water park.
The Visitor Center provides information on the trails and overlooks plus has a historical and cultural museum, a gristmill and a moonshine still.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your stay at Breaks Interstate State Park:
Boating at Breaks Interstate State Park
Seasonal rentals of paddle boats, canoes and kayaks are available for boating on Laurel Lake only. A dock is conveniently located for easy access to the lake.
If you’re an experienced whitewater paddler then you may want to raft on the Russell Fork River (because of the dangerous conditions on the river only those who are experienced should attempt).
At this time there are not any commercial rafting or paddling companies operating on the river.
However, river access is available at Ratliff Hole, Center Creek and Green Hole. Be advised that these access gates are locked at sunset and any unattended vehicles may be fined or towed.
Swimming at Breaks Interstate State Park
Breaks Interstate State Park has its own waterpark – Splash! In the Park.
This unique waterpark features a 4,000 square foot beach entry leisure pool with 4 waterslides, games and a splash pad. A few of the structures are shaded.
This pool area is open seasonally from Memorial Day until Labor Day.
Fishing at Breaks Interstate State Park
Great fishing for bass and trout can be found on the Russell Fork River. But for your own safety adhere to the warnings about fishing in this dangerous river.
Or rent a boat and fish from Laurel Lake. Just don’t forget to pick up a Virginia fishing license ahead of time. Licenses can be purchased online here.
Trails at Breaks Interstate State Park
Breaks Interstate State Park has 25 miles of trails spread throughout the park.
These multi-use trails range from easy to difficult as they wind through hardwood forest, narrow crevices and past large boulders and sandstone cliffs.
There are guided hikes offered throughout the summer and the Ridge and Geological trails are self guided. Trail guides, maps and informational booklets are available at the Visitor Center.
The park also has a 12 mile bike trail loop with a combination of climbing and long downhill runs. Bicycles and E-Bikes are available to rent.
Rock Climbing at Breaks Interstate State Park
Climb one of the 300 routes throughout the canyon created by the Central Appalachian Climbers Coalition.
Zip Lining at Breaks Interstate State Park
Zip line over Virginia’s Grand Canyon. Canyon Rim Zipline offers seasonal views of towering cliffs and overlooks the Russell Fork River Gorge.
The zipline is a half mile course with stops at each of the 3 overlooks.
Wildlife at Breaks Interstate State Park
Many species of wildlife may be seen inside of the park due to its unique ecosystem and lake and rivers.
While exploring the canyon or out on the water you’ll notice many soaring birds above your head.
Hawks and falcons are a common sight and you may glimpse a bald eagle as well.
The Peregrine falcons appear to be doing well since their release into the safety of the park in 2007.
Waterfowl can be easily spotted near Laurel Lake and Beaver Pond. And chickadees, cardinals, woodpeckers and sparrows may be seen while camping or exploring the trails.
While exploring, keep an eye open for many types of frogs and snakes as well as white-tailed deer, red foxes, bobcats and black bears.
For a different type of adventure take a bus tour of the Virginia Elk Restoration Zone. This tour is offered between March and October and includes an outdoor picnic style dinner.
Lodging at Breaks Interstate State Park
Breaks Interstate State Park has 138 campsites in a wooded and grassy setting. These sites are open from April 1 to October 31 and feature tent and full hookup RV sites. Primitive campsites as well as a group camping area are located nearby.
A Yurt is available to rent and sleeps up to 3. Inside this secluded round shaped tent you’ll find a bunk bed, with a full mattress on the bottom bunk, a kitchen table and chairs, small sofa, refrigerator, microwave, sink and coffee maker.
An outdoor cooking area contains a picnic table, fire ring and charcoal grill. The campground bathhouse is nearby.
The park also has 5 fully furnished cabins that are ideal for larger families or multi family gatherings.
Each cabin has a covered front porch with rocking chairs and a furnished back deck that overlooks the lake.
Inside you’ll find a fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, flat screen television and dvd player.
Another 4 woodland cottages are nestled in the forest near Beaver Pond. These cozy cottages have 2 bedrooms, a bath, tv and a fully stocked kitchen.
The Rhododendron Lodge has 70 hotel rooms, each is outfitted with a small refrigerator, coffee maker, iron and ironing board and a hair dryer. One 2-room suite also has a kitchenette with cookware and dishes.
Pets at Breaks Interstate State Park
Pets are allowed inside the park but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet while outside. Please clean up after them and do not leave them unattended.
Pets are allowed to stay in the Lodge for an additional fee. And Cabin #1 is pet friendly, inquire when making reservations.
Weddings at Breaks Interstate State Park
The Rhododendron Lodge and Restaurant has meeting space and conference rooms for large gatherings, reunions and weddings. An amphitheater right outside has space as well and also the large picnic shelters may be rented for outdoor events.
Breaks Interstate State Park
627 Commission Circle
Breaks, VA 24607
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Breaks Interstate State Park: