I tell you what...I am getting jazzed about the weather getting warmer and warmer because that means day trip planning will be in full swing.

Maybe it will be for you, too. When the weekends are amazing--and yes, that's an unpredictable cross to bear from time to time--I don't need a reason to hop in the car head out for points north...or south or east or west, for that matter. Kentucky offers ample opportunities for exploration away from the hustle and bustle, and I am here for it. But I'll have to plan accordingly because I doubt I could get more than one of these destinations into one day's drive.

So let's get into it and check out some beautiful photo opportunities in the Commonwealth.

Chained Rock

For 90 years, there's been a chain attached to a cliff at Pine Mountain State 
Resort Park in Pineville. Hence the name "Chained Rock."

But why on Earth would they stick a chain in a cliff. Well, here's why:

Chained Rock was officially fastened to the adjacent cliff in the summer of 1933; allegedly to protect the city of Pineville from calamity should the ominous boulder perched precariously above town become loosened.

90 years and going strong. I'd say it's working.

Black Mountain

It would be absurd to omit the highest point in Kentucky from a list about the photogenic splendor of the Commonwealth. So here it is. But WHERE is Black Mountain, you might ask? Well, you'll need to travel to the Kentucky/Virginia border, but it is well worth the time, gas, and the wear and tear on your steel-belted radials.

Rising 4,145 feet above sea level, Kentucky's "rooftop" is very popular among hikers and climbers but, oddly enough, isn't part of a state park. So your best bet for accommodations would likely be nearby Benham KY.

Bernheim Forest Fire Tower

If you've visited Bernheim Forest, you know all about the magnificent--and vaguely creepy--sculptures that fans never leave the park without visiting. I don't imagine you will either. But if you missed the fire tower, you need to go back.

You get great views of the forest, yes, but in the right position, you can see Louisville off in the distance. So cool.

The Big Four Bridge

Ah yes, we are taking a detour away from Mother Nature for a bit in order to head into Louisville and, specifically, down to the waterfront. I love the Big Four Bridge and am always reminded of our own Bridge Day in Owensboro. Give me a big pedestrian walkway like this and a body of water like the Ohio River and I am occupied for hours.

I guess every day is Bridge Day in Louisville.

Columbus-Belmont State Park

Our big swing to the far western edge of Kentucky also serves as a reminder that there are crazy awesome views of the Mississippi River from the Commonwealth, as well. And as those types of photo opportunities go, it doesn't get much better than the Bluffs at Columbus-Belmont State Park. Interestingly, these Kentucky bluffs are all about MISSOURI.

The Columbus-Belmont State Park, located in western Kentucky, commemorates the Battle of Belmont, which was fought in Missouri. The great guns of Columbus were used to advantage during the fight, but Union and Confederate troops bloodied and alternately routed each other on Missouri’s shores.

History and a breathtaking panoramic view always make for a great combination.

I've taken you to both the eastern AND western borders of Kentucky and a few places in between. Once you go exploring, there's no telling what ELSE you'll discover.

RANKED: Here are the most popular national parks

To determine the most popular national parks in the United States, Stacker compiled data from the National Park Service on the number of recreational visits each site had in 2020. Keep reading to discover the 50 most popular national parks in the United States, in reverse order from #50 to #1. And be sure to check with individuals parks before you visit to find out about ongoing, pandemic-related safety precautions at www.nps.gov/coronavirus.

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