1. Old Frankfort Pike
Originally named the Old Lexington-Frankfort Road, this 16.9-mile scenic byway connects the two cities. It cuts right through the heart of horse country, earning it the nickname “Thoroughbred Alley.” Along with the horse farms, you’ll also see the limestone rock walls Kentucky is known for, and you’ll pass four properties that are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
2. Red River Gorge Scenic Byway (KY-11, KY-77, KY-715, and KY-402)
This 46-mile drive takes you through Red River Gorge, which is one of the most beautiful places in Kentucky year round. The byway will take you through the small towns located in and around the Gorge— Stanton, Bowen, Pine Ridge, Slade, and Zachariah. Winding along several different state roads, this route takes you past some of the most iconic sites in Red River Gorge, including Nada Tunnel, Sky Bridge, Angel Windows, and Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
3. Woodlands Trace (KY-453)
This road cuts through the middle of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, with Kentucky Lake to the west and Lake Barkley to the east. At 43 miles, this route gives you the opportunity to pull off and explore the natural wonders the area has to offer. Plenty of hiking and other outdoor activities are available here, and you might even spot a bison or two!
4. Country Music Highway (US-23)
This long 144-mile National Scenic Byway in eastern Kentucky was named for all the country music stars who came from the area, including Loretta Lynn, Billy Ray Cyrus, Wynonna and Naomi Judd, Dwight Yoakham, and several others. As you twist and turn through Appalachia, you’ll have great mountain views and pass through seven different counties.
5. Pine Mountain Road (US-119)
This drive will take you through the heart of the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky. The route is named for a ridge in the area, and you will drive over its crest at 2,800 feet. Not far off Pine Mountain Road near its junction with US-25E is Pine Mountain State Resort Park, which would be an ideal place to relax for a few nights if you choose to take advantage of the hiking in the area.
6. Midway-Versailles Road (US-62)
This 8-mile drive connects the cities of Midway and Versailles. Like the Old Frankfort Pike, it takes you through horse country, and you will pass well-known horse farms including Lane’s End, Stonewall, and Adena Springs.
7. Lincoln Heritage National Scenic Byway (US-31E and US-150)
A 72-mile journey across through the towns of Hodgenville, New Haven, Bardstown, Springfield, Perryville, and Danville takes you on a historical tour of Kentucky. This National Scenic Byway highlights places significant to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, as well as Kentucky’s heritage as a top bourbon manufacturer.
8. Big Bone Lick Scenic Byway (KY-338)
Big Bone Lick State Park in northern Kentucky’s Boone County was named for the huge fossils of mammoths and other large mammals found in the area. These animals were probably attracted to the salt licks found here, but now a 18.7-mile scenic byway gives you gorgeous views of the Ohio River and surrounding areas.
9. Wilderness Road Heritage Byway (US-25 E and KY-229)
Another National Scenic Byway, this 93-mile stretch takes you through the mountains of eastern Kentucky near Cumberland Gap National Historic Park up north to the quaint town of Berea, which is Kentucky’s crafts capitol. This road is extremely historical, as parts of it were once the route settlers used to get west of the Appalachian Mountains, which was considered the wild west at that time. Sections of Wilderness Road were also some of the first roads to be paved in the United States.
10. Great River Road (US-51 and KY-123)
Known as one of the best drives in America, this 3,000-mile trek spans from Minnesota all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. It goes through the western-most portion of Kentucky along the Mississippi River, which makes for some spectacular river views.
11. Cumberland Cultural Heritage Highway (KY-90, US-27, KY-163, KY-80, KY-55, US-68, US-127, US-150, KY-78)
This 197-mile byway branches out in several different directions in south central Kentucky. There’s no shortage of things to see along this route, as it has several historical sites pertaining to the Civil War, and the railroad and mining industries. It’s also close to Lake Cumberland, Green River Lake, and Dale Hollow Lake.