History of Breaks Interstate Park

180 million years ago, in an area now lying across Kentucky and Virginia, a vast inland sea receded, leaving in its wake a veritable cradle of botany. Meanwhile the river that is now the Russell Fork got about the work of carving out an immense, spectacular gorge, renowned as the deepest river canyon east of the Mississippi. Here fractal ferns, galax, colts foot, tea berries and a profusion of fungi and moss species dot an undergrowth of rich greens with their bright yellows, oranges and pinks.
In the 1950’s, lawmakers from Kentucky and Virginia came together and began working to protect this geological wonder for the enjoyment of all. Breaks Interstate Park, established by the United States Congress in 1954, is one of only two such parks in the Unites States. And what you find at Breaks Park is just as unique as the way it was founded.


Hikers, be prepared for the catch of breath as you lift your eyes from the delicate landscape underfoot to the wonder of a raptor soaring overhead. Boaters, rafters, horseback riders, take a moment to rest in awe of these timeless mountains, as their undulating profiles resolve into the distance in ever-paler shades of blue.


Biking, hiking, riding, rafting…no matter how you choose to move through The Breaks Interstate Park, you will find yourself exploring, just like those who came here first. Passing through the ancient hunting grounds of the Shawnee and Cherokee, one might just as easily be tracking the 18th century legend of the lost silver mines of John Swift. Or following in the footsteps of Daniel Boone as he searched for a new way into Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley. In 1767 Boone finally discovered the single passage through the 125-mile stretch of Pine Mountain, and thus gave the area its name: The Breaks. Like these early wanderers, today’s visitors are greeted by hidden ponds and craggy rock faces, by awesome critters, and starry nights scented by bloom…in short, by wonders at every turn.