Jesse James Riding Stables

Get a family-friendly taste of the outlaw life by riding horses on guided tours and exploring caverns in Cave City, Kentucky

Jesse James Riding Stables in Cave City, Kentucky (photo courtesy of destination)

On the run, Jesse James and his gang often galloped across this broad valley ringed by woods and rolling hills, taking refuge in the caves here in south-central Kentucky while the law tried to hunt them down. That was over a century ago, but the 500 acres comprising Jesse James Riding Stables and Outlaw Cave seem hardly to have changed in all those years. A herd of around 40 or so horses graze and play in the pastures, and owner Ricky Carey describes the trail rides as unspoiled nature with no houses in sight when riding, just a beautiful range of forest and hills. 

Carey, who has a background in Extreme Cowboy racing, and his daughter Jessica Dover run the family business which opened in the 1970s. But despite Carey’s expertise, there’s no extreme horsemanship here. It’s all family friendly with custom-made saddles so kids can ride double with an adult. The one-hour tour is geared for kids and first-time riders, while the two-hour option is for those with riding experience. 

Exploring Outlaw Cave is an easy 45-minute walking tour and one of the few around that is handicapped accessible. Want to get down and dirty? Sign up for the Beyond the Wild Cave Tour. The 90-minute experience takes cavers into the depths of the cave. The adventure involves crawling through passageways, climbing up and down slopes and through canyons and other caving feats not for the faint of heart. You’re going to get muddy so bring along a plastic bag to hold your cell phone. Beyond that, the Careys supply the equipment needed: kneepads, gloves, headlamps and helmets. Members of the National Speleological Society guide the cave tours.

There are plenty of other activities on-site. The western-themed mini-golf course is the largest in the area. For those wanting to spend the night, there are cabins and RV hookups. 3057 Mammoth Cave Rd., Cave City, Kentucky 42127, 270/773-2560,