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Red River Gorge Scenic Byway

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Basics
Length:
46 miles (74 km)
Time:
One hour to drive or five hours to experience the entire Byway.

Description

Take a journey through magnificent natural wonders on the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway. From the historic Nada Tunnel to the end of the Byway in Zachariah, KY, discover over 100 hundred stone arches, waterfalls, and plenty of natural beauty. Carved over eons by the Red River, today's Gorge is now Kentucky's prime site for outdoor adventures such as canoeing, rock climbing, and kayaking.

One of the main attractions to the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway is the proliferation of natural stone arches, which frame forested areas, ridges, and cliffs. 70 million years of wind and water has created one of the most unique areas in the eastern US. Perhaps you'll succumb to the lure of these many cliffs and ridges, and enjoy the area's excellent rock climbing. Or, if a tamer sort of adventure is more alluring, try out the many hiking and walking trails leading to the various arches and waterfalls.

The lands around the Red River Gorge were home to ancient civilizations thousands of years ago. Many of their rock shelters were later used by early pioneers and settlers. Despite the challenges of transporting the results of their labors through or around the gorge's rock formations, mining and lumbering was a way of life here. See what life in one such logging camp was like at the Gladie Historic Site. Visit the Nada Tunnel, built from 1910-1911 with steam-driven jackhammers, so trains could pass through with loads of lumber or minerals.

Red River Gorge Scenic Byway provides you with a look at some of the nation's most interesting geological formations. Filled with history, recreation opportunities, and natural beauty, the Byway tempts you to stay a little longer.

Points of Interest Along The Way

Angel Windows (KY)

Set amidst trees, wildlife, and unique geological features,Angel Windows is a great first stop on a journey to see the manyarches in the Red River Gorge. The arches are located at the end ofa 1/2-mile round trip walk. The area is a popular one because ofthe easiness of the trail and the unique arches waiting at theend.

Clifty Wilderness (KY)

This national wilderness area provides remote camping and hiking opportunities.

Daniel Boone National Forest (KY)

Located in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, the Daniel Boone National Forest encompasses over 700,000 acres of land. This land is generally rugged and characterized by steep forested ridges, narrow valleys, and over 3,400 miles of cliffline.

Gladie Cultural-Environmental Learning Center (KY)

Visitors are welcomed to the Gladie Cultural-Environmental Learning Center to gain a deeper understanding of the area around them. With information about the historical, archaeological, and natural qualities in Red River Gorge.

Gladie Historic Site (KY)

The Gladie Cabin is a reconstructed log home dating back to the late 1800's, during the logging period of Kentucky's history. The land on which the cabin is built has been passed on through manypeople. The land was eventually used for subsistence farming, and later as a logging camp for the booming industry.

Nearby Gladie Creek was home to many families who frequented the small community center at the mouth of Gladie Creek. There was a school, cemetery,and small store. Today, the Gladie Historic Site still features the Gladie cabin and shows what life would have been like for these early settlers.

Nada Tunnel (KY)

Without high tech modern equipment of today, Nada Tunnel was hand carved to make a road for the logging trucks back in the early 1900's. Two teams began in 1910 on each end and worked their way to the middle using steam powered jackhammers and carbide lamps. The tunnel opened to railcars in 1912 and helped in the transportation of timber. This 900-foot tunnel is for one-lane traffic only and is a very unique way to enter the Red River Gorge. Nada Tunnel is on the National Register of Historic Places because of the unique nature of it.

Directions

on KY77 in the Daniel Boone National Forest, KY

Natural Bridge State Resort Park (KY)

Spanning 78 feet in length and 65 feet in height, a natural sandstone arch is the main attraction at the Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Visitors may ride the Sky Lift to within 600 feet of the arch. In addition to the uniqueness of the bridge, there are many other recreational opportunities to enjoy at the park.

There are 9 hiking trail that range from 1/2 mile to 8 1/2 miles which will take you through the beauty of Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Miniature golf, pedal boats, hydrobikes, and swimming are all available to add variety to your park visit.

For some old fashioned fun, visitors may mosey on down to Hoedown Island on Hoedown Island Lake for some square dancing when available. All visitors will feel at home at Natural Bridge State Resort Park because of the various accomodations. There are 82 camp sites that are furnished with rest rooms and showers, while 12 camp sites are primitive. Each of the 35 rooms at the Hemlock Lodge is complete with a balcony to allow visitors to experience the joy of being out in the Kentucky outdoors. Eight cottages provide maximum opportunities to experience nature at its greatest.

Pine Ridge (KY)

This scenic hamlet located on the east end of the Red RiverGorge, Pine Ridge is a town centered around the lumber and millbusiness. The atmosphere of this charming town is typical oflaid-back, small-town Kentucky.

Raven Rock (KY)

Raven Rock stands almost as if on guard along the byway. Thisrock has had an interesting history and continues to be a delightfor visitors. The name is said to come from the many flocks ofravens that used the gigantic rock as their roost. Interestingenterprises, such as a caged bear, have been attempted as a meansto draw people to the area. Finally the US Forest Service boughtRaven Rock to allow visitors to enjoy it.

Red River (KY)

Giving its name to the byway, the Red River is a dominant force in the area. Once known as Warrior Fork, the Red River was explored by many people, such as Dr. Thomas Walker and Daniel Boone. After millions of years of impacting the land, the Red River runs through the Red River Gorge Geological Area and is designated as a National Wild and Scenic river.

Most of the designated portion of the Red River flows through the Clifty Wilderness area and Red River Gorge Geological Area. The designated portion is 19.4 miles long, with 10.3 miles of that used for recreational purposes, such as canoeing. 9.1 miles of the river is designated as a Wild River, with water flowing through huge boulders in a narrow, twisting, and largely inaccessible area.

Towering cliffs, narrow gorge, abundant wildlife and plants, natural bridges, and recreational opportunities are all a part of the Red River. The Red River is a relatively calm stream before entering the Daniel Boone National Forest, and does not technically meet many of the established standards for a true river.

Length:
46 miles (74 km)
Time:
One hour to drive or five hours to experience the entire Byway.
Main Roads:
KY-715 N/Sky Bridge Rd
Customizable Directions

Formatted DirectionsMap

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