Cumberland Gap National Historical Park


Throughout the ages, poets, songwriters, novelists, journal writers, historians and artists have captured the grandeur of the Cumberland Gap. James Smith, in his journal of 1792, penned what is perhaps one of the most poignant descriptions of this national and historically significant landmark: "We started just as the sun began to gild the tops of the high mountains. Ascending Cumberland Mountain, from the top of which the bright luminary of day appeared to view in all his rising glory; the mists dispersed and the floating clouds hasted away at his appearing. This is the famous Cumberland Gap..." Thanks to the vision of Congress, who in 1940 authorized Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, visitors today can still bask in its beauty and immerse themselves in its rich history. The story of the first doorway to the west is commemorated at the national park, located where the borders of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Virginia meet. Carved by wind and water, Cumberland Gap forms a major break in the formidable Appalachian Mountain chain. First used by large game animals in their migratory journeys, followed by Native Americans, the Cumberland Gap was the first and best avenue for the settlement of the interior of this nation. From 1775 to 1810, the Gap's heyday, between 200,000 and 300,000 men, women, and children from all walks of life, crossed the Gap into "Kentuckee."


Seasonality / Weather

With a fairly mild climate, Cumberland Gap is a great place to visit any time of year! Summers can be hot and humid, with temperatures commonly in the mid to upper 90's F. Winters are generally mild with rain and some periods of snow January through March. Temperatures usually range in the 30's and 40's F. Weather can sometimes be unpredictable, especially at higher elevations. If hiking in the backcountry, please remember that temperatures at higher elevations are five to ten degrees cooler.



Visitors traveling on Interstate 75 in Kentucky should exit on 25E at Corbin. Cumberland Gap is located 50 miles south of Corbin on 25E. Visitors traveling on Interstate 81 in Tennessee should exit on 25E at Morristown, Tennessee. The park is located 50 miles northwest on 25E. The park can also be accessed from Virginia by traveling west on Highway 58 to its intersection with 25E in Tennessee.


The closest major airport is located in Knoxville, Tennessee about a two hour drive from Cumberland Gap. Flights can also be made into the Lexington, Kentucky airport. Follow Interstate 75 in Kentucky. Cumberland Gap is located 128 miles south Lexington on 25E.

Public Transport: 

There is no public transportation in Cumberland Gap National Historical Park.