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A Walk in Big Bone Lick State Park

I bet you didn’t expect to see a bison photo when you clicked on this post! In the northernmost tip of Kentucky lies Big Bone Lick State Park. Make fun of the name and you may find yourself being chased down by one of these bad boys.

Big Bone Lick State Park - Union, KY

Sniffing Around

Located in Union, KY, the name of the park comes from the many, many fossils of mammoth, mastodon, and ground sloth that were found here. It’s believed these animals were drawn to the area because of a huge salt lick. Hence, Big Bone Lick. The site is considered the birthplace of American paleontology, and at the request of Thomas Jefferson, the original excavations were performed by William Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame). It’s interesting how a part of our trip has come full circle. About three weeks ago we toured Monticello, and bones taken from this site were on display in Jefferson’s home.

What We Did

This stopover was all about Ty and Buster … and getting some work done. I am finding state parks to be a wonderful place for long walks to accomplish the former and a slice of solitude to facilitate the latter.  I’m imagining that you don’t want to hear about the work stuff, so …

The park has several miles of cleared trails, and Ty and Buster walked every inch of them. We watched while people fished from the bank of a 7.5 acre lake. We visited the Nature Center and, with the boys, toured the outside dioramas depicting recreations of life in the Pleistocene, an epoch lasting from 2.6 million to 12,000 years Before Present. How long ago is that? The end of the period marks the retreat of the last continental ice glacier from North America.

One of the trails led us to a meadow of grazing American buffalo. We all know the story of what happened to them. Hunted to near extinction, wild buffalo were last seen in Kentucky around 1800. The park’s herd is an effort to re-establish these animals at Big Bone Lick.

Big Bone Lick State Park - Union, KY

Buffalo are curious, and our presence brought them closer …

Big Bone Lick State Park - Union, KY

… and closer …

Big Bone Lick State Park - Union, KY

… and closer! Not shown – a calf came over and licked my hand.

Big Bone Lick State Park - Union, KY

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the campground in the state park – two duclaws up! The place was perched on a hill, giving panoramic views of the countryside. For kids, there is a swimming pool and playground; showers, restrooms, and laundry facilities are also on site. The most memorable moment was being outside late at night, far removed from city lights, and gazing at the twinkling stars. THIS is what traveling with our pets is all about!

Next Time

I don’t know if we’ll ever get back this way, but it would be fun for the dogs and peaceful for us to stay again.

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  • How lucky for you, Christy! It’s a great place and I’m sure you’ll all have a blast!

  • We live about an hour from Big Bone Lick and haven’t been yet. Will be perfect for a weekend trip with the three dogs!

  • I love this post! It sounds like a wonderful place, and I'm a big sucker for buffalo. What did the boys think of them??

    • Buster was curious, but pretty quiet. Ty, on the other hand, was all bent out of shape … running along the fence and barking at the bison. Clearly a case of his mouth writing checks his body couldn’t cash!

  • Did you find a big bone for the dogs to lick? HAR HAR!!

  • Robert says:

    Love the pictures! Sounds like yall had a GREAT time!

  • Very cool!

    At this point in my life I don't do much traveling with my dogs, but I sure enjoy reading your posts, rich with fantastic historical information.

    Reading this post and viewing the pictures, I was imagining myself standing there with you and the buffalo.

    No pics of the calf licking your hand?

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