The waters of the Kentucky River carry a story of history and commerce that has quite literally shaped towns and communities throughout the Commonwealth. The river can claim its birthright as one of the largest tributaries of the Ohio—from its main stem in Beattyville to the convergence with the Ohio River in Carrollton—measuring a mighty 260 miles. The Kentucky flows through the coal-mining regions of the Cumberland Mountains all the way to the north-central Bluegrass region. It continues to play a vital role in the state’s economy and cultural identity, both past and present—even down to providing drinking water to one-sixth of the population here. So whether you paddle the waves, explore the riverbanks and trails, or view its massive expanse from a clifftop overlook and soak up the awe-inspiring beauty.