Explore Kentucky's Natural Beauty: The Red River Gorge

JC Phelps

If you ask a Kentuckian to recommend a gorgeous excursion within the Commonwealth, you'll likely hear one answer repetitively: the Red River Gorge. Visit once and you'll understand why -- the natural beauty is simply unparalleled. If you're looking for your next adventure, look no futher.

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Lizzie Luh, Unsplash

Explore Kentucky's Natural Beauty: The Red River Gorge

About the Red River Gorge

You'll find the Red River Gorge nestled in the heart of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Known for its world-class climbing and hiking, the natural beauty of the Red River Gorge is best described as breathtaking. Thousands of rock climbers, hikers, canoeists, and campers enjoy the rugged landscape and keep returning to Kentucky to discover more of the terrain.

Embarking in the Gorge, outdoor enthusiasts note the steepness of the terrain, the towering cliffs, and forested ridges. Along the route, you'll find ginormous rock formations. In fact, there are more than 100 sandstone arches and other rock features in the Gorge as an aggregate.

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Brian Erickson, Unsplash

Favorites include Chimney Top Rock, Sky Bridge, and Half Moon -- though all are worthy of discovery.

Popular Hikes In The Red River Gorge

  1. Indian Staircase and Indian Arch (3.5 miles – unmarked – difficult)
  2. Whittleton Arch (2.5 miles – easy)
  3. Double Arch, Star Gap Arch, Arch of Triumph (5.6 miles – unmarked – moderate)
  4. Gray’s Arch (4.0 miles – easy)
  5. Auxier Ridge & Courthouse Rock (5.0 miles- moderate)
  6. Natural Bridge & Laurel Ridge Trail (3.0 miles – easy)
  7. Silvermine Arch & Hidden Arch (5.1 miles – moderate)
  8. Turtle Back Arch & Rock Bridge (4.0 miles – unmarked – moderate)
  9. Rock Bridge Loop (1.5 miles – unmarked – easy)
  10. Chimney Top Rock, Princess Arch, & Half Moon Arch (1.8 miles – easy)

Recognition of the Red River Gorge

  1. More than 41,000 acres are designated as a National Archaeological District, as well as being listed on the National Register of Historic Places; the area contains the largest concentration of rock shelters in eastern North America and provides some of the earliest evidence of plant domestication by Native Americans.
  2. 29,000 acres are designated as a National Natural Landmark and National Geological Area.
  3. 13,000 acres are designated as Clifty Wilderness, protecting some of the Commonwealth of Kentucky's rarest flora and fauna.
  4. Among the rarities found in the Red River Gorge is the white-haired goldenrod, a variety that occurs nowhere else in the entire world.
  5. A 20 mile stretch of the Red River Gorge was federally designated as a National Wild and Scenic River, while other upper portions are state designated as a Kentucky Wild River.
  6. 46 miles of road through the gorge make up the Red River Gorge National Scenic Byway.
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Michael Alain, Unsplash

About The Daniel Boone National Forest

In February 1937, a national forest for Kentucky was officially established under a proclamation signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Originally named the Cumberland National Forest, the forest was renamed in 1966 as the Daniel Boone National Forest in recognition of the adventurous frontiersman that explored much of this Kentucky region. The Daniel Boone National Forest is one of 155 national forests, all of which are managed by the USDA.

The Daniel Boone National Forest is expansive, as it occupies land in 21 counties throughout Eastern Kentucky. To aggregate the land, it covers more than 708,000 acres.

Visit the Red River Gorge

Robbie Ridge Rd, Stanton, KY 40380

Have you been to the Red River Gorge?

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JC Phelps is a Kentucky-based food + southern lifestyle writer.

Louisville, KY
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