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Breaks Interstate Park
Breaks Canyon, May 2003
Breaks Interstate Park is located in Kentucky
Breaks Interstate Park
Breaks Interstate Park
Location in Kentucky
Location Kentucky and Virginia, United States
Nearest city Elkhorn City, Kentucky
Area 4,500 acres (1,800 ha)
Established 1954
Visitors 286,401 (in 2014)
Governing body Breaks Interstate Park Compact

Breaks Interstate Park is a bi-state state park located partly in southeastern Kentucky and mostly in southwestern Virginia, in the Jefferson National Forest, at the northeastern terminus of Pine Mountain. Rather than their respective state park systems, it is instead administered by an interstate compact between the states of Virginia and Kentucky. It is one of several interstate parks in the United States, but only one of two operated jointly under a compact rather than as two separate state park units. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and the Kentucky Department of Parks are still major partner organizations, however.

The Breaks is also referred as the "Grand Canyon of the South", through which the Russell Fork river and Clinchfield Railroad (now the CSX Transportation Kingsport Subdivision) run. It is accessed via highway 80 (Virginia 80 and Kentucky 80), between Haysi, Virginia, and Elkhorn City, Kentucky, and passes through the community of Breaks, Virginia, east of the park.

American frontiersman Daniel Boone is credited with being the first person of European descent to discover the Breaks, which he first saw in 1767.


Breaks Interstate Park is located about 5 miles (8 km) east of Elkhorn City, Kentucky. The park covers 4,500 acres (1,800 ha). The park's main feature, Breaks Canyon, is five miles long and ranges from 830 to 1,600 feet (250 to 490 m) deep. The canyon was formed by the Russell Fork river through millions of years of erosion.

Activities and amenities

  • Trails: The park has trails for hiking [25 miles (40 km)], mountain biking [12 miles (19 km)], and horseback riding.
  • Water-based: The park has a water park with five waterslides, a current channel, and splash pad for small children, in the summer of 2014 the park also added a regulation sized volleyball court. The park also offers fishing, paddle boating, canoeing, and hydro biking on Laurel Lake, and white-water rafting on the Russell Fork.
  • Rock Climbing: The Breaks offers world-class rock climbing with sandstone similar to the nearby New River Gorge.
  • Accommodations: The park offers a lodge with 82 guest rooms, four cottages near Beaver Pond, five cabins overlooking Laurel Lake, and a 122-site campground and a group camping area with 16 sites.
  • In addition the park has a visitor center with exhibits on the area's historical and natural features, a 6,000-square-foot (560 m2) conference center with restaurant, and an amphitheater.


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