Dedicated December 16, 1981, Bat Cave and Cascade Caverns State Nature Preserves consist of two tracts totaling 146 acres located in Carter County. These preserves are located within the boundaries of Carter Caves State Resort Park. Bat Cave was dedicated into the nature preserves system for the protection of the Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis). This federally endangered species has wintering numbers in Bat Cave estimated at 28,000. The Cascade Caverns portion of the preserve was dedicated into the nature preserves system to protect two rare plant species, the mountain maple (Acer spicatum) and the Canadian yew (Taxus canadensis). To prevent disturbance of the bats in hibernation, the caves are closed to public visitation from October to May. However, the hiking trails on the portion of the preserve which is above ground are open year round.
- Features - two cave systems, rare bat winter roost, rare plants
- Access - cave tours one mile of trails on surface
- Facilities - state resort park
- Parking - abundant
- Hazards - steep banks above Tygarts Creek at Cascade Caverns
- Activities - hiking, geological study, birding
- Directions - Carter County. From the junction of I-64 and U.S. 60 N.E. of Olive Hill, follow U.S. 60 east 1.5 miles. Turn left at the junction with KY 182, drive east for 2.5 miles to Carter Caves State Resort Park entrance. Inquire about the preserve at the lodge.
State nature preserves located within Kentucky state parks are special places with different management priorities. While the parks are there primarily for public recreation, the acreage that has been dedicated as a nature preserve is set aside for the rare, threatened or endangered species and communities that occur there. KSNPC is focused on management for these species and communities while providing opportunities for scientific research and nonconsumptive recreation. For information concerning use of state park facilities, programs, recreation opportunities and lodging visit the Carter Caves State Resort Park website.