Frontiersmen once called a passage through the mountains a “break.” The seldom-encountered passageways offered early settlers opportunity to explore destinations further west. This particular passageway from the mountains of Virginia into Kentucky, discovered by Daniel Boone’s family in 1767, gives the region its name: Breaks. Through an act of Congress in 1954, encouraged by the neighboring states of Virginia and Kentucky, the 4,600-acre Breaks Interstate Park was established as one of two interstate parks in the country to protect the unique geological, natural and cultural history of this spectacular area. The park’s spectacular 5-mile gorge carved by the raging Russell Fork over millennia plunges to 1650 feet and is referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the South.”
Almost 300,000 visitors come annually to the park throughout the year to enjoy the many recreational opportunities and visual delights, whether they are interested in an active sporting experience, or one more contemplative, such as can be experienced from the seven gorgeous overlooks. Hiking, biking, riding, rafting and nature observation are only some of the many activities that await visitors at Breaks. After a day exploring the park, the visitor can enjoy the warm Appalachian hospitality in the Rhododendron Restaurant and cozy accommodations in the Lodge, a cottage or a luxury cabin in peaceful natural settings.
The park’s visitor center offers an opportunity to interpret the unique geological, natural and cultural history of The Breaks region. The river and gorge, well-known for their exciting recreational potential, represent millions of years of geological history. The mountains of Virginia and Kentucky boast a rich flora and fauna. The story of the settlement of the region, first by Native Americans and later by Europeans, represents a rich cultural history.