In 2010 the county population was 12,613 in a land area of 178.98 square miles, an average of 70.5 people per square mile.
The equine population was 800 in the 2012 Kentucky Equine Survey.
Powell county was named for Lazarus Powell, governor of Kentucky from 1851 to 1855.
Much of Powell county lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest and the Red River Gorge National Geological Area. Also in the county are Pilot Knob State Nature Preserve and Natural Bridge State Resort Park.