There are so many fun and unique things to do during a visit to Red River Gorge in East-Central Kentucky.
I’m sharing more about the top bucket list adventures to add to your list during your next visit.
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Try Via Ferrata Climbing at Southeast Mountain Guides
1617 KY-11, Campton, KY
Southeast Mountain Guides is the site of the first Via Ferrata in the United States.
What is Via Ferrata?
Via Ferrata is a type of climbing with steel cables along a route with hand and foot rungs.
Climbers are equipped with cables to clip into and have iron hand and foot rungs to hold and step onto as they travel horizontally across the mountain.
Guests ages 10 years old and up can challenge themselves and try Via Ferrata on a climbing path that spans ¾ of a mile of the rugged sandstone cliff line.
You can choose a full or half-day for your climbing adventure. There are sections of the canyon that range in skill level for participants.
Before you start Via Ferrata Climbing, you get a brief 30-40 min orientation. After the training, you have a day pass for independent climbing on the course.
Climbers can choose a half-day that is up to 4.5 hours or a full day that is up to 8 hours.
Guided climbing and rappelling with Southeast Mountain Guides
Another option for guests is a guided rock climb or rappel.
Guided Climbs are recommended for ages 6 and up.
Guided Rappelling is recommended for ages 6 and up but they do not have an age restriction.
Go Kayaking in a Cave at The Gorge Underground
2478 Glen Cairn Road, Rogers, Kentucky
Experience Red River Gorge from another perspective below the surface with The Gorge Underground.
In addition to kayak tours, The Gorge Underground offers boat tours and guided stand-up paddleboard tours through an abandoned Limestone mine.
The guided tour on the “Giant Beast SUP” can even hold up to 8 people on it.
The “Crystal Kayak Tour” on a clear bottom kayak at The Gorge Underground is very popular so make sure that you purchase your tickets in advance online to get your desired date.
The tours last 1- 1.5 hours and the cave temperatures are around 52-55 degrees year-round.
Sleep in a Treehouse at Red River Gorgeous Wilderness Cabin Rentals
The Cloud Dome Treehouse is one of the unique overnight options at Red River Gorgeous Wilderness Cabin Rentals.
They offer an assortment of overnight accommodations for a range of comfort levels. (Full amenity, off-grid, treehouses, and Dome town.)
“Dome town” is a series of geodesic domes suspended in the trees connected by suspension bridges that weave through the canopy.
You can rent all three sleeping domes in “Dome Town” as a group or rent them individually. Each dome sleeps two people and the walls of the dome are uninsulated.
Fans are provided in the summer and heaters are in the winter
There is a giant canopy lounge net and a communal water dome with two full bathrooms and one wash station.
The outdoor lighting stays on until midnight so pack a flashlight or lamp in case you need to go to the bathroom.
607 Skylift Dr, Slade, KY
If the chairlift is open, I recommend taking it for your way up to Natural Bridge. This will allow you to conserve your energy to hike around the top once you arrive.
You can ride the Skylift round trip or take it one way and hike back down.
This is a great option if you are traveling with family or friends who wouldn’t be able to make the hike up to the top but still want to see the view from the top of Natural Bridge.
There are easy hikes once you get off the Skylift with scenic views of the area.
The Skylift is not open year-round so make sure that you double-check their operation schedule.
Skylift at Natural Bridge Prices
There is a fee but in my opinion, it’s totally worth it to save time and steps. You can opt for a round trip ride or one way.
Pricing is accurate at the time of posting. Check the Skylift website before you go.
- Adult Round Trip Ticket $17
- Senior Round Trip Ticket $16
- Military Round Trip Ticket $15 *Military ID is required for the discount.
- Child Round Trip Ticket $14 (Ages 4-12) (Kids 3 and under are FREE)
- One Way Ticket $11
*Tickets can be purchased one way at the top or bottom of the Skylift.
If you have younger kids hold on to them extra tight. The Skylift is basically like a chair lift with a bar that goes across you.
The Skylift Season at Natural Bridge
In the spring, the Skylift is open on weekends, weather permitting from March 1 until April 1. After that, it’s open 7 days a week until the end of the season.
Check the Natural Bridge Skylift Facebook page for updates if you are concerned about closures for inclement weather.
The Skylift season ends sometime in November based on when the leaves change and the weather.
The Skylift is closed from December thru February.
Admire Views of Natural Bridge From Above and Below
Natural Bridge is 65 feet in height and spans 78 feet in length with 360-degree views of the natural surrounding area.
If the chairlift is closed for the season, I recommend parking at Hemlock Lodge and then taking the Original trail because it is the shortest and has the least amount of stairs to get you to the top.
If you choose to hike up to Natural Bridge you will get the underneath view on your way up.
The most popular hike on the way up to the top of Natural Bridge is The Original Trail. It starts near the Gift Shop near the parking lot and over the course of the trail has an elevation change of 420 feet.
Access to the top of the Natural Bridge is located through a tight space between the rocks on the other side of the arch followed by a set of stairs.
Hikers are traveling from both directions and you may have to wait a few minutes for others to pass through the path before going to the other side.
You don’t want to try to shimmy around someone or be forced to go back to the beginning halfway through the narrow path.
There are no guardrails at the top of Natural Bridge so keep young kids close by once you reach the top.
Take the Lookout Point trail at the top for another perspective of Natural Bridge.
The trails at the top are relatively flat which makes it pretty easy to move between different vantage points.
Attend the Natural Bridge Hoedown Dance
2135 Natural Bridge Rd., Slade, KY
Located at Hoedown Island at Natural Bridge State Park.
Every Saturday evening from the beginning of May to October you can join in on the family-friendly fun with a variety of dances from square and line dancing along with clogging.
Trust me when I say that this is worth checking out! We took students to the Hoedown dance over 15 years ago and it’s still legendary.
There are bleachers if you want to spectate or rest for a bit from dancing too.
I promise it’s WAY more FUN if you let loose and actually join in…no matter what skill level of dancer you are.
If you don’t know the moves, don’t worry, the dance caller can help you out when it’s time to square dance.
Kids 12 and under are free and 13 and up are $3 pp. The warm-up dance is at 6:30 followed by the regular dance starting at 7:30.
Go Hiking at Red River Gorge
If you are new to hiking at “The Gorge,” I recommend stopping at the rest area off of the Slade exit (24 L&E Railroad Pl) and grabbing a map of the area.
The hiking options at Red River Gorge are endless and the views are incredible throughout its 29,000 acres within the Daniel Boone National Forest.
You’ll find 600 miles of trails to discover when you visit Red River Gorge with hikes and climbs for all fitness levels.
- Indian Staircase and Indian Arch (3.5 miles – unmarked – difficult)
- Whittleton Arch (2.5 miles – easy)
- Double Arch, Star Gap Arch, Arch of Triumph (5.6 miles – unmarked – moderate)
- Gray’s Arch (4.0 miles – easy)
- Auxier Ridge & Courthouse Rock (5.0 miles- moderate)
- Natural Bridge & Laurel Ridge Trail (3.0 miles – easy)
- Silvermine Arch & Hidden Arch (5.1 miles – moderate)
- Turtle Back Arch & Rock Bridge (4.0 miles – unmarked – moderate)
- Rock Bridge Loop (1.5 miles – unmarked – easy)
- Chimney Top Rock, Princess Arch, & Half Moon Arch (1.8 miles – easy)
Zipline Across the Gorge at Red River Gorge Zipline
455 Cliffview Rd, Campton, KY
Thrill-seekers will love this 2-hour zipline adventure that takes you 300 feet above the gorge near Cliffview Resort.
There are 5 ziplines including 2 side-by-side racing lines. Reservations are strongly suggested and the longest line is 1900 feet long.
There is no age limit to zipline but you must weigh between 70 and 250 lbs.
Hike to Creation Falls Waterfall
Directions to trailhead From Slade, take KY 15 for 7 miles to KY 715. Turn left on 715 and go 0.3 miles to Rock Bridge Road on the right. Follow this road to Rock Bridge Recreation Area.
Creation Falls is located on the Rock Bridge Trail loop in the Cumberland Ranger District in the Red River Gorge.
The 1.5-mile trail is paved… but it’s not paved like what you would expect on a bike trail. It’s definitely not stroller-friendly and still has LOTS of stairs.
Rock Bridge is a popular hike and parking may be limited so be prepared to park on the side of the road.
Your vehicle will definitely need a car wash after driving 3 miles on the gravel road to get to the trailhead but it’s worth it.
Creation Falls has a few vantage points from the trail and is easy to access.
It’s recommended that you plan 1-2 hours to be able to relax and enjoy time by the waterfall and explore Rock Bridge.
Creation Falls and Rock Bridge are located within about 100 yards of each other creating two picturesque spots within steps of each other.
Drive Through Nada Tunnel
20 Nada Tunnel Rd., Stanton, KY
Nada Tunnel is a narrow one-lane 900-foot historic former railroad tunnel.
Make sure that you turn on your headlights and blow your horn before you enter. You do not want to have to back out of there if there are vehicles already coming your way.
After you drive through the tunnel, you’ll find plenty of hiking trail options along the road as you go.
Eat at Miguel’s Pizza and Drink an Ale-8
1890 Natural Bridge Rd, Slade, KY
A favorite of rock climbers and out-of-towners, Miguel’s Pizza is THE place to eat during a visit to Red River Gorge. (There are several other restaurant options in the area, but you need to make sure that Miguel’s is one of them.)
Miguel’s Pizza is conveniently located across the street, within a short drive from of Natural Bridge State Park entrance.
Enjoy great pizza with a bottle of Ale-8-One. (Kentucky’s soft drink that tastes like ginger ale or you can try their cherry flavor)
Miguel’s has an assortment of menu options to choose from with 45+ toppings for a custom pizza, custom salads, pasta, or sandwiches, 20 flavors of ice cream, and beer and wine service.
There is plenty of seating between the indoor dining and the covered picnic table areas.
After you place your order you will get a number and have your food delivered to your table. Don’t worry, they will find you.
You can place your order inside at the counter or ahead of time online. You’ll be given a number to put at your table and an employee will deliver your food to your table.
In addition to great food at Miguel’s, there is a rock climbing shop, a campground for tent or car camping, bedrooms, and house rentals.
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