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State Nature Preserve & State Natural Area

Kentucky State Nature Preserve Boundary SignWhat is a State Nature Preserve?
A state nature preserve (SNP) is a legally dedicated area that has been recognized for its natural significance and protected by law for scientific and educational purposes. Dedicated state nature preserves are established solely to protect and preserve rare species and the natural environment. Public visitation is encouraged but closely regulated to protect the natural integrity of the preserve so that it may be passed on unimpaired to future generations.

What is a State Natural Area
A state natural area (SNA) is a site jointly managed as a wildlife management area with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR). These areas are also dedicated to permanently protect them. They are protected for the same purposes as state nature preserves, but a rule allowing hunting differentiates them from state nature preserves. 

What is a Heritage Land
A Heritage Land is an area funded by the Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund Board.  KNP monitors conservation easements and deed restrictions on these sites and works with our partnering agencies to ensure they are managed appropriately for hiking, paddling, and habitat conservation.  For more information, please visit the  Kentucky Heritage Land Conservation Fund site. 

What is a Wild River
Kentucky has nine legally designated Wild Rivers that conserve the Commonwealth's most pristine waterways for habitat and recreation.  KNP monitors those Wild River Corridors to ensure they remain healthy ecosystems.  For more information, visit the Wild Rivers page. 

Information on Kentucky's State Nature Preserves and State Natural Areas:
The Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission owns and/or manages a system of dedicated state nature preserves, state natural areas and conservations easements. These areas encompass 28,022 total acres of ecological communities and natural habitat for rare species across the state. Negotiations for acquisition of additional nature preserves are ongoing.

The majority of the preserves are open to the public throughout the year (unless otherwise noted) from sunrise to sunset for nonconsumptive recreation such as hiking, birding, photography and nature study. Visitation to the other preserves is restricted, but guided tours are given periodically. Please call 502-573-2886 for more information.

State Nature Preserve and State Natural Area Directory and Map:
Link to Statewide list of State Nature Preserves & State Natural Areas   Link to Directory of State Nature Preserves and State Natural Areas (PDF)   Link to Map of State Nature Preserves and State Natural Areas (PDF)

State Nature Preserve Hikes:
Visit our events calendar for a list of upcoming hikes on state nature preserves and state natural areas.

Rules for State Nature Preserves and State Natural Areas:
By observing these rules you will be helping to protect Kentucky's natural heritage.

  • Preserves are open sunrise to sunset.
  • Trails are open to foot traffic only. The established trail system provides you with the safest and best way to travel through the preserve.  Visitors must not re-route or shortcut the existing trail system.
  • Horses, bicycles, climbing and rappelling are not permitted in nature preserves because of their destructive impacts to the trails and natural features.
  • Motorized vehicles are not permitted.
  • Possession of drugs or alcohol is prohibited. 
  • Collecting plants, animals, rocks, artifacts or wood reduces those things that are needed to maintain nature’s delicate balance. Therefore, collecting, hunting and trapping are prohibited on dedicated state nature preserves.
  • Fishing is allowed only at Metropolis Lake SNP and Six Mile Island SNP. 
  • Hunting is allowed only at Stone Mountain State Natural Area (SNA), Martin's Fork SNA, Bissell Bluff SNA and Newman's Bluff SNA, in accordance with regulations established by KDFWR under KRS 150 and 300 KAR chapters 1 - 3.
  • To ensure the natural beauty of each preserve and to promote visitor safety and enjoyment, camping, picnicking, building fires, audio equipment and pets are not permitted.
  • Remember to carry out your trash.

Rules for state nature preserves are established by 400 KAR 2:090. Any person in violation of this regulation may be liable for a civil penalty of $1,000 per day and possible criminal prosecution as provided for in KRS 224.