We hope your visit to Big South Fork will be a safe and memorable experience. You can help ensure that your visit is safe by being aware of the potential hazards involved and observing some basic safety precautions.
If you do choose to swim in the river, be extremely careful, do not swim alone and always wear a PFD (personal flotation device) no matter how good a swimmer you think you are.
Be alert for poisonous snakes. Copperheads and rattlesnakes are generally found on land but may sometimes be seen in the water. Use ordinary precautions, wear shoes and always carry a flashlight after dusk. If you see a snake, leave it alone!
Ticks are common throughout the recreation area; a proportion of them carry Lyme Disease. This is a bacterial infection transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected deer tick. The longer that an infected tick feeds on you, the more likely you'll be to catch "Lyme."
Lyme Disease is a serious illness that can go undiagnosed if the affected person is not alert to its causes and symptoms. Not all tick bites will result in the characteristic skin blotch. If you find a tick engorged tick attached to you, remove the tick and clean the bite site.
Poison ivy grows plentifully along roadsides, trails and the edges of fields and parking lots, as a vine or a low shrub. The leaves are red in early spring, shiny green in summer, and an attractive red or orange in the fall. Each leaf consists of three leaflets.
Do not burn campfire "deadwood" that is entangled with poison ivy leaves or vines. Soot from the fire can carry the sap through the air, and cause serious distress in the eyes, nose, and throat.
Bears do exist in Big South Fork. For your safety put away all food and food items such as cooking utensils, grills, and coolers ANYTIME your campsite is unattended and at night. Bear-proof boxes are currently located throughout the campgrounds of Bandy Creek, Blue Heron and Alum Ford.
In the backcountry you should be prepared to hang your food out of the bear's reach. Click here for more information.
Firewood Ban is in effect for the park. Only firewood from the surrounding counties of Scott, Morgan, Pickett, and Fentress in Tennessee and McCreary in Kentucky can be brought into the park. Firewood is for sale or you may use dead and down wood.
There is a 13% grade for an approximate 5 mile stretch on Highway 297 between Bandy Creek Road on the west of the river and Headquarters on the east side. This is called the gorge. Use caution when traveling with recreational campers or horse trailers.