Kentucky : Safety by City
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Two distinguished men helped put Corbin, Kentucky, on the map.
One made a name for himself through adventures and settlement of the state.
The other made a name for himself with Finger Lickin’ Good chicken that first opened in this city.
Of course, we’re talking about Daniel Boone and Colonel Sanders.
Corbin sits just to the east of the massive Daniel Boone National Forest.
Tucked into that area are the gorgeous waterfalls of Cumberland Falls State Resort Park and the rocky Red River Gorge, which can be enjoyed climbing, floating, hiking, or driving.
As if that’s not enough to bring you to the wilderness during the day, how about a night hike where you can see a rare Moonbow?
We’ve all heard of rainbows, but a moonbow is a spectrum of light that displays during a full moon through the mist produced by Cumberland Falls (also known as the “Niagara of the South.”)
In fact, there’s so much to do in nature around Corbin, it’s hard to actually stay in Corbin.
While you’re there, you can visit several exhibits that pay homage to Colonel Sanders and how he started Kentucky Fried Chicken on the streets of Corbin during the Great Depression.
There’s even a place where you can learn a little bit about the “secret” spices that make the chicken so good.
Add in festivals throughout the year in this small town of less than 8,000 people, and you’ve got a vacation you’ll be talking about for decades.
Warnings & Dangers in Corbin
OVERALL RISK: LOW
There's a low risk in Corbin with low crime rates and almost too many places to explore. There's a lot to wrap your head around here, but once you've got an itinerary set, you'll be able to safely explore.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK: LOW
You won't find public transportation here, but taxis and rideshares are available. Having a car is essential if you want to explore the forest, parks, and waterfall. Any option is a low risk, but there are few options other than renting a car or driving your own.
PICKPOCKETS RISK: LOW
No pickpockets were reported in the 2020 crime data, but 32% of the thefts were car break-ins. There are a lot of places in this region where you'll park your car and go into the forest, so don't leave any valuables in the vehicle and always, ALWAYS, lock the car with the windows rolled up.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK: MEDIUM
Corbin is near where the catastrophic flooding happened in the summer of 2022. There is damage and road damage that will take a while to repair in the eastern section of Daniel Boone National Forest. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are possible year-round, and when winter gets cold, snow and ice storms are possible. There's a medium risk in the whole state, but recently this region has been hit particularly hard.
MUGGING RISK: LOW
The city hasn't had more than seven robberies in a year going back to 2011, and there were just four in 2020. There's a low risk it will happen to you.
TERRORISM RISK: LOW
You don't have to worry about terrorist threats here, as the weather can create the biggest terrors of them all in this part of Kentucky.
SCAMS RISK: LOW
There have been a variety of utility scams, but nothing that would impact a tourist. The one caution I'll give is to watch out for rental scams. You should never have to wire money in advance to reserve a cabin or home, and the person renting it out should be able to show you a valid rental permit.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK: LOW
Assuming women know how to handle themselves in the outdoors, there's a low risk. The main reason to visit here is to explore the wilderness, and the events in Corbin are safe for women as well. It's still wise to avoid walking around the city at night alone.
TAP WATER RISK: LOW
There were two water quality report violations in 2020, but neither was because of poor water quality. They were reporting issues. All other water meets or exceeds the requirements and the water is generally safe to consume. When flooding happens, the city might issue boil orders.
Safest Places to Visit in Corbin
The Sanders Cafe and Museum waits for visitors to learn the history of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Colonel Sanders, and the growth of this company to a global entity.
You can see artifacts, newspaper articles, and a kitchen from when the chicken first became “Finger-Lickin’ Good.”
There’s a KFC on site so you can enjoy the secret recipe and all the sides.
The museum and restaurants are open daily from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Sanders Park is right on Main Street in downtown Corbin, with a statue of the Colonel and a herb garden growing some of those “secret” ingredients used to make fried chicken so tasty.
Just across the street, you’ll find the Pinball Museum with machines from throughout the decades.
For just $15, you can play pinball as long as you want on a given day.
The museum is closed on Tuesdays and Mondays offer half-price deals.
Heading west toward Daniel Boone National Park, you’ll come to Laurel River and Laurel River Lake on your way.
This 5,600-acre lake has 200 miles of forested shore.
Scuba diving is popular here due to the deep depths of the lake.
Fishing is another stellar activity.
The Laurel River eventually connects to the Cumberland River, and near that junction, you can ride the Cumberland Star Riverboat.
There are sightseeing and dining cruises available.
You can go with a group of tourists or charter your own trip.
Once you arrive at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, prepare for a wonderful experience among waterfalls and wilderness.
Several trails will take you to different vantage points of the falls.
You can climb a fire tower for sweeping panoramic views of the area.
Trails can be done self-guided or with a tour guide.
A newer attraction here allows children to mine for gems.
There are horseback riding options if you’d like to try that.
Riverview Restaurant is on the way from Corbin to the falls.
It doesn’t look like much from the front, but the views of the river are worth the price of the meal.
Lick Creek Falls and Princess Falls are two other waterfall options to explore.
The Sheltowee Trail is a backwoods trail system that has two swinging bridges to cross.
If you are visiting around a full moon, ask a park ranger about stargazing and moonbow events.
You’ll have to navigate in the dark through rough trails to see this, but it’s a rare sight indeed and it’s worth the trek if you can physically handle it.
Places to Avoid in Corbin
There aren’t bad neighborhoods in Corbin and you don’t need to worry about being in a dangerous part of town.
As of this publication, this region of Kentucky is still reeling from catastrophic flooding during the summer of 2022.
Much of Daniel Boone National Park east of Corbin is either closed or damaged from those floods and there’s more rain on the way.
This would be in the region known as the Redbird Ranger District.
Don’t go there until you’ve researched what’s open and what is closed.
The area should probably be avoided for at least six months, but some damage will take years to repair.
Here’s the thing about Daniel Boone National Forest.
It covers more than 700,000 acres.
It stretches from the southern border almost to the northern edge.
It is so large the park is divided into four separate districts, and Corbin is closest to the London District and then the Stearns District.
If, for example, you want to visit Red River Gorge, that’s about a two-hour drive.
You just can’t say “I want to visit Daniel Boone Forest!”
You need to narrow down options or plan for extra drive time to visit all of them.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Corbin
1. Corbin has its own police department but is also located in three counties. Calling 911 will take you to dispatch, regardless of what city, county, or wilderness area you are in. The non-emergency number for the police department is (606)528-1122.
2. While this region recovers from the catastrophic flooding, you’ll find a lot of fundraisers or requests for donations to help the flood victims. It is a worthy cause, but make sure you know the fundraiser is legitimate. Unfortunately, scammers prey on compassionate people during tragedies. The Governor established the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund and the Red Cross is also accepting donations, so there are at least two legit places to donate.
3. You cannot drink alcohol in Daniel Boone National Forest. Consumption and open containers are banned in public places. Kentucky also cracks down hard on marijuana use, so don’t even try to get away with it. They take people to jail for it there.
4. This area is known for having black bears. Before you go into the wilderness, you need to bring bear-proof food containers. There are strictly enforced options about how to care for any food, including pet food.
- Use your bear-resistant container.
- Keep all food in a hard-top vehicle with doors closed and windows rolled up.
- Store food in a closed and locked hard-body trailer.
- Suspend food 10 feet from the ground and at least four feet from a tree or pole used for suspension.
5. If you see a black bear, do not approach it. If a bear is coming toward you, speak in a human voice to let them know you are not a threat. Never turn your back on a bear and don’t try to climb a tree to get away. Bears are excellent climbers. You should always bring bear repellant spray with you, but only use it as a last resort.
6. The forest is a very rocky terrain with some steep cliffs and switchbacks. Always stay on the trail and never cut across a switchback or trail to save time. Not only could you damage the ground and plants, but you could also inadvertently step into the path of a cooperhead or rattlesnake.
7. Only light campfires in designated areas and make sure there isn’t a burn ban in place. Even though flooding is the big problem in 2022, a dry spell could easily turn a campfire into a wildfire.
8. Designate a driver who is least likely to get distracted by the scenic views. The roads in the forest are mostly two-lane roads and there are winding paths with some hairpin turns. It might be a good idea to get a camera holder for your dashboard so you can record the drive to review later. Watch out for traffic too, especially in the summer around the big tourist attractions. Traffic can be backed up for miles in some parts. Just be patient.
9. Look for the City of Corbin Facebook page for information on road closures, public events, and suspects on the loose. There isn’t a separate page for the police department.
10. There are places in this region to scuba dive and rock climb, but you should have experience, training, or certification before you attempt these dangerous activities. The water at Laurel River Lake is so clear that it’s worth going through the training so you can do the deeper dives.
So... How Safe Is Corbin Really?
Corbin is a small town of less than 8,000 people with low crime rates.
There were eight violent crimes in 2020, which ended up being almost a one in a thousand risk of being a victim.
You do have to keep your car secure and personal items out of plain sight because 32% of thefts here were car burglaries.
That’s JUST in Corbin and doesn’t include the thefts at the park across its various counties.
Keep in mind when visiting this area that Daniel Boone National Park brings in 650,000 people each year.
There’s going to be a lot of strangers sharing roads, spaces, and restaurants.
Be patient and kind, especially during busy seasons.
Help people out when you can and bring plenty of supplies.
You never know when you’ll come across an injured hiker who desperately needs water.
The weather can be risky here too and is probably the biggest safety concern, especially if you don’t need watches and warnings.
Purchase a battery-powered weather radio for trips to the forest.
You likely won’t get mobile signals there and you need to stay on top of developing weather.
A final thought – with the flooding that happened here, communities are hurting.
The more you can shop, stay, and eat locally, the more money gets infused into the communities to help rebuild and repair.
How Does Corbin Compare?
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A U.S. Travel or Work Visa are going to cost $160 and $190, respectively. You should plan at least eight weeks out to go through the process, but try to start the process four months ahead of time if you can. You only need your visa at the airport, not as you travel throughout Kentucky.
You can only use the U.S. Dollar here, and since there are a lot of outdoor activities, using a credit card is a wise choice when it comes to warranties and product issues. If you are going to carry cash, put it somewhere hidden away in your belongings and avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
You'll want to overpack outdoor clothing, especially in the winter when it can be cold and wet. It's dangerous for many reasons to walk around in wet or damp clothing. If you can, vacuum-pack your clothing so more will fit in your suitcase. You'll need reliable hiking boots with good ankle support for this rocky and steep terrain. Bug spray and sunscreen are necessary too.
You can get to the airports in Knoxville or Lexington in 90 minutes, and Louisville's airport is about two and a half hours away.
It's especially important to get travel insurance that covers any hiking, camping, or climbing accidents. You always want to make sure you'll get your money back should severe weather cause delays or cancellations.
Corbin Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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Kentucky - Safety by City