Favorite Vacation Destinations in Eastern Kentucky
Red River Gorge Geological Area
The Red River Gorge Geological Area is a National Natural Landmark run by the forest service in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Visitors come here from all over the world for a variety of reasons.
Tucked in the mountains of eastern Kentucky are at least two hundred rock bridges and arches which have been recognized, many of which remain unexplored. If you enjoy looking for rare vegetation as you hike, just park your vehicle and hit the trails.
Some people prefer admiring the scenery from the comfort of their car as they drive the loop (77 east to 715, south on 715 to go west on 15.) Stop by the Gladie information center for maps, books and lots of historical information about the area.
Red River Gorge Zipline
The Red River Gorge Zipline has five ziplines ranging from three hundred thirty feet to nineteen hundred feet. The guides are all well trained in keeping you safe and are very helpful and upbeat.
You'll wear a harness that's hooked to a line that will take you high in the air as you travel through the trees and across the gorge. Two to three hours go by very quickly when you're having this much fun.
The last two lines are dual racing zips on which you're able to race at speeds up to fifty five miles per hour while flying three hundred feet over the gorge. So if you're looking for a day filled with over the top excitement, this is the place to be!
Torrent Falls is the home of the Via Ferrata Climbing Adventure. Rock climbers come here in droves during the Spring and Summer months. This is a privately owned enterprise where the guides are very well trained and your safety is a high priority.
At the end of the day climbers congregate a few miles down the road at Miguel's Pizza to socialize and enjoy a great meal. Miguel also offers an open field for pitching tents.
Ride The Rapids On The Red River
The Red River is located in the Red River Gorge and has rapids that are perfect for experienced and novice kayakers alike. If you don't own a canoe or kayak just visit one of the rental shops in Slade or Pine Ridge.
If you are looking for a tranquil voyage then you'll want to start off just east of Sky Bridge Arch, where the Ky-715 part of the byway crosses the Red River. The water is shallow here with class I rapids perfect for beginners.
A more adventurous ride can be found by hiking eastward to the top of the run. From there you'll find class II or class III rapids depending on the depth of the water. The Big Branch section of the River, northeast of Campton, has a launch. November through April is the best time to run the river but you can run it anytime after a week of rain.
Kayaking is fun and exciting but can be also be dangerous if the water level is too high. Always check the Daniel Boone National Forest Website for river conditions before you go.
Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Natural Bridge State Resort Park is located in Powell and Wolfe Counties surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest. The central focus of the park is the natural sandstone arch which spans seventy eight feet and is sixty five feet high. The view from the top of Natural Bridge is breathtakingly gorgeous.
The park was originally a private tourist attraction owned by the Lexington and Eastern Railroad. Folks from as far away as Cincinnati would ride the excursion train down for a pleasant respite from city life. When the state park system was put in place in 1925, Natural Bridge became one of the original four state parks. It continues to be a peaceful oasis in the desert of life for a number of city dwellers as well as locals who have come to appreciate this treasure in their own back yard.
There are twenty miles of trails for hikers to choose from, ranging from moderate to strenuous in difficulty. The 0.5 mile 'original' trail is the most popular one leading to the top of Natural Bridge, probably because it leaves you with enough energy to enjoy the rest of your day in the park. Guests of the Hemlock Lodge have access to the river style swimming pool until closing time at 7:00 each evening. Two campgrounds and numerous cottages for rent provide lodging for visitors also.
Hoedown Island at Natural Bridge State Park is the place to be on Friday and Saturday nights all summer long. It's been this way for well over fifty years now, ever since a young man named Richard Jett began calling and teaching square, round and line dances there every weekend. He inspired all who knew him with his ever positive attitude, never failing to encourage young people to use the talent God gave them while generously providing opportunities for them to do so.
Mr. Jett was a lifelong educator and his ability to instruct even the youngest of dancers was truly amazing. Everyone who crossed the little wooden bridge to Hoedown Island was welcomed and included in the night's events. Friendships and romances bloomed and memories to last a lifetime were made on those moonlit nights. Each Saturday night before he played the last song, A Good Time Had By All, he reminded everyone to be in the Lord's house come morning.
On a Saturday night in 2006 while starting the music for the next dance, Mr. Jett suddenly became very ill. With his typical concern for the Hoedown Island 'family' of locals and visitors, he whispered to his assistant, "keep dancing." Sadly, the music fell silent that night as he was lovingly carried on angel wings to be with the Great Master that he had spoken of so often through the years.
When you cross that little wooden bridge to Hoedown Island today, the same welcome atmosphere surrounds you that Richard Jett made a part of this place from the beginning. Jane Bolin, his assistant, continues the tradition that he started. Every week-end from May through October, the old familiar 'regulars' join with all the fresh new faces. As long as there's music on Hoedown Island, they'll keep dancing.