McCreary county was formed in 1912. It is located in the Eastern Coal Field region of the state. The elevation in the county ranges from 723 to 2165 feet above sea level. In 2010 the county population was 18,306 in a land area of 426.80 square miles, an average of 42.9 people per square mile. It is the last county formed in the state.
The county seat is Whitley City.
The county is entirely within the Daniel Boone National Forest and includes the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.