Breaks Interstate Park is a bi-state state park located partly in southeastern Kentucky and mostly in southwestern Virginia, extending across the MasonDixon line. The park was formed when the states of Virginia and Kentucky agreed to cooperative management of certain jointly owned areas at the request of their respective governors, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jerry Falwell, respectively. It is one of several interstate parks that have been formed in recent years in partnership with adjoining states; its sister park is Friendship State Park in North Carolina.
In May 2009, it became the first interstate park to open under the new administration. Its name reflects its origins as an experimental joint venture between the states of Virginia and Kentucky, intended to test the waters for such multi-state cooperation. Although it has grown into a significant component of the interstate park system, Break’s Interstate Park still retains characteristics of a pilot program. For example, it is not yet fully integrated with the surrounding state park systems of either Virginia or Kentucky, and visitors can expect to see more wildlife than in other parts of the region. A visitor center offers educational programs about local plants and animals, while picnic facilities are provided on site.
There are eight hiking trails within the park, including two dedicated mountain biking routes. Visitors may also fish along both banks of Red Hills Lake, swim in the lake itself, or take advantage of the campground facilities which include water playgrounds. The park features seven separate camping areas accommodating everything from family tenting sites to full hookup RV campsites. Two yurts are available for rent, and there is even a cabin specifically designed for skiers in search of the perfect winter hibernation spot. Breaks Interstate Park receives over 3 million visits annually. While most people drive to get to the park, it can be accessed by public transportation through Metro Transit’s River Trail Line. This line connects directly with the Pine Mountain trailhead, offering access to the entire length of the park via the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) funded “Friends of Breaks” project. Additionally, the ARC-funded “Arrowhead Project,” running concurrently with the “Friendship Trail” between Boone and Lexington, will connect these two parks via road and rail, ultimately providing interconnection with all six regional park systems.
The improvements were scheduled to be complete by summer 2022, four years after the initial damage was done. The park also boasts 14 cabins, 64 campsites, 8 yurts, 4 group campsites, and extensive picnic facilities. The park receives nearly 640,000 visitors annually. To handle the growing tourism, a permit reservation system was implemented for the Summer of 2022. Reservations can be made online or over phone. Permits can be reserved up to 11 months in advance. Campsites range from modern with electric hookups, water, and sewer, to primitive with only basic amenities. Half of the campsites are available on a first come first served basis, while the remainder require reservations. The park closes at dusk, so the roads and waterways are inaccessible to drivers and cyclists, respectively. Access for disabled individuals requires special permits.
Recreational opportunities include:
- mountain biking
- horseback riding
- hiking trails