Because the nonprofit organization founded in 1990 is involved in medical research, about 90 percent of the snakes are venomous. Among the nonvenomous reptiles such as corn snakes, lizards, and turtles on exhibit, are an 18-foot reticulated python and an alligator named Fluffy. During the season, the zoo is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Live reptile shows are given at 1, 3, and 5 p.m.; on weekends, the 1 p.m. show is usually a venom extraction. Visitors are advised to call first (Kentucky Reptile Zoo, 606/663-9160).

For a backcountry drive along a fork of the Kentucky River, follow KY 11 south past the KY 30 intersection to Oneida. From there, KY 66 runs along the Red Bird River through the Daniel Boone National Forest until it dead-ends in Pineville. Created in 1924, the Pine Mountain State Resort Park is off U.S. 25 East.

Kentucky's first state park is in the heart of the Kentucky Ridge State Forest and features some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in the state. In late spring, mountain laurel blooms along 81/2 miles of hiking trails with names like Hemlock Garden, Honeymoon Falls, Living Stairway, and Rock Hotel. An 18-hole golf course recently joined the (seasonal) swimming pool and miniature-golf course. The 30-room Herndon J. Evans Lodge and 20 cottages are open year-round. Thirty-one primitive campsites (no electricity) are available April 1-October 31 (www.pinemountainpark.com).

From Pineville northeast to Jenkins, U.S. 119 is a scenic byway that runs parallel to the Tennessee and Virginia state lines. At 2700 feet, Kingdom Come State Park, located in Cumberland, preserves almost 1300 acres of unspoiled wilderness on the crest of Pine Mountain. Along with breathtaking scenery, the Park has unusual rock formations: One monolith soars 290 feet into the air at a 45-degree angle.

Nearly five miles of hiking trails crisscross the rugged mountain terrain. Visitors with four-wheel-drive vehicles will also find a narrow dirt and gravel road extending 38 miles along the crest of Pine Mountain. Although the park doesn't have a campground, primitive camping for a fee is allowed in certain areas.

This is coal-mining country, and nearby Benham is off KY 160. Since these mines no longer yield black gold, the former "company town" founded by International Harvester in the early 1900s has created the Kentucky Coal-Mining Museum. Three floors of exhibits portray the tools and lifestyles of the miners and house memorabilia of the Coal Miner's Daughter, Loretta Lynn. Besides a mock mine in the basement, visitors can board a shuttle bus and tour Portal 31, a real--if inactive--coal mine, in Lynch.

Editor's Note:
Mud or snow on your windshield give you chills? Four-wheeling your weekends away? Got a good story to tell about it? Send us all the gear-popping seatbelt-tightening dust-kicking details in 500 words or less, along with your best photos (color slides, preferably), and we'll pay $300. Send to Truck Trend, c/o "On the Road," 6420 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048. We'll publish your adventures.