National Historic Park
Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia
At Cumberland Gap four natural features combine to open the way through the Appalachian Mountain range. At one time this land was flat and Yellow Creek flowed south into Powell River. Then the earth began to push up, and as Cumberland Mountain rose the creek cut in it a notch, or gap. (1) The mountain rose faster than the creek could enlarge the gap and the creek was diverted northward into Cumberland River. North of the gap is Middleboro Basin(2), a large flat area perhaps formed by the impact of a meteor or the collapse of a huge underground bubble. Yellow Creek Valley (3) leads to "the Narrows"(4), a gap that crosses Pine Mountain and opens into the Bluegrass region of Kentucky. These four features are a natural door through the mountains, allowing travel in either direction and joining the eastern seaboard with the Mississippi west.
The General park map handed out at the visitor center is available on the park's map webpage.For information about topographic maps, geologic maps, and geologic data sets, please see the geologic maps page.
A geology photo album for this park can be found here.For information on other photo collections featuring National Park geology, please see the Image Sources page.
Currently, we do not have a listing for a park-specific geoscience book. The park's geology may be described in regional or state geology texts.
Parks and Plates: The Geology of Our National Parks, Monuments & Seashores.
Lillie, Robert J., 2005.
W.W. Norton and Company.
9" x 10.75", paperback, 550 pages, full color throughout
The spectacular geology in our national parks provides the answers to many questions about the Earth. The answers can be appreciated through plate tectonics, an exciting way to understand the ongoing natural processes that sculpt our landscape. Parks and Plates is a visual and scientific voyage of discovery!
Ordering from your National Park Cooperative Associations' bookstores helps to support programs in the parks. Please visit the bookstore locator for park books and much more.
For information about permits that are required for conducting geologic research activities in National Parks, see the Permits Information page.
The NPS maintains a searchable data base of research needs that have been identified by parks.
A bibliography of geologic references is being prepared for each park through the Geologic Resources Evaluation Program (GRE). Please see the GRE website for more information and contacts.
NPS Geology and Soils PartnersAssociation of American State Geologists
Geological Society of America
Natural Resource Conservation Service - Soils
U.S. Geological Survey
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park has been awarded the National Park Service Southeast Region’s prestigious “Keeper of the Light Award” for Educational Outreach. The award was based on the park’s October 2004 “America’s First Frontier” Colonial Trade Faire and Living History Event, co-hosted with park partner Wilderness Road State Park and for the its Parks as Classrooms “Within the Shadows of Cumberland Gap” CD-ROM on westward expansion.
General information about the park's education and intrepretive programs is available on the park's education webpage.For resources and information on teaching geology using National Park examples, see the Students & Teachers pages.