Just north of Lexington, right off I-75, is a world class attraction and superb campground that needs to be a must visit on your next RV trip through the area.
The Kentucky Horse Park, with 1,200 Bluegrass acres bordered by crisp and clean white fencing, is recognized around the world as the epicenter of equestrian life, sports and business. If it has to do with horses – raising them, racing them, jumping them, tending them, trotting, walking and showing them off – this is the best and most accessible place to see them. Just about every horse association in the world is headquartered here and competition, exhibitions and educational events are held year round.
We’ve visited the park’s adjacent campground a half dozen times. It’s open year round and we’ve found it a great place to overnight on the way south from our Michigan home, or back north again after trips to Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. Usually, we arrive late and leave early.
But this week, as we were returning from a late summer trip south, we were able to experience the horse park itself and see some of the many magnificent animals that live there or compete there.
If you camp there, you get free admission to the park itself. Discounted tickets to the barns can also be bought in the campground store.
Owned and run by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the park is home to some 115 horses representing more than three dozen different breeds during the summer season. Most of these horses are housed in barns throughout the main “tourist attraction” area of the park including the Hall of Champions, Horses of the World Barn, Kids Barn, Mounted Police Barn and Big Barn – home to draft and carriage horses, as well as a riding concession.
But on many weekends during the warm weather months, dozens of additional horses ship in to the park to compete in horse shows. The weekend we visited. the park hosted a Dressage competition as part of the prestigious National Dressage Pony Cup (NDPC), which has an offering of $10,000 in total prize money.
The grounds are beautiful and offer lots of opportunities to see horses at pasture, in corrals and being taken to and from various events by their handlers. There’s also a Visitor Information Center (with gift shop and movie theater), the International Museum of the Horse, the American Saddlebred Museum & Gift Shop, the Bit & Bridle Restaurant, and the Farmhouse Cafe are all indoor facilities with air-conditioning, sitting areas and restrooms.
Allow a full day to experience the horse exhibits and grounds.
The park does not have a boarding facility for pets. But it’s still pretty pet friendly. Pets are allowed to accompany their owners on the park grounds as long as they are on a leash. Pets are only allowed in the museum lobby and not in the museum exhibits, so visitors will need to take turns staying with their pets outside of these areas. Pets are not allowed to be left unattended in vehicles, roam without a leash, or tied-out on the grounds.
The adjacent campground boasts 50 foot paved back-in spots, 30 and 50 amp electric service, a picnic table, firepit and water hookups. A dump station is on the way out. There is a swimming pool – it closed right after Labor Day – as well as tennis and basketball courts and several playgrounds. The rest rooms and showers are neat, clean and spacious.
If you camp there, try to get one of the spots on the outer loops that back up to the grounds of the horse park. There, you can often see horses right from your campsite.
We’ve stayed there in the winter, though the water is turned off during the coldest months.