Unique Things to Do at Red River Gorge in Kentucky

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.

via ferrata Southeast Mountain Guides Red River Gorge Kentucky

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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.

Via Ferrata Guided Rock Climbing - Southeast Mountain Guides

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.

underground kayak tour Red River Gorge

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.

Kayaking in a Cave at 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.

Go Kayaking in a Cave with The Gorge Underground

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.

Cloud Dome Treehouse rental at Red River Gorgeous

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.

inside the Cloud Dome Treehouse rental at Red River Gorgeous

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.

Cloud Dome Treehouse rental at Red River Gorgeous

The outdoor lighting stays on until midnight so pack a flashlight or lamp in case you need to go to the bathroom.  

Natural Bridge Skylift

Ride the Skylift to the Top of Natural Bridge

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.

Laurel Ridge Trail

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 chairlift at Natural Bridge in Kentucky

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.

Skylift chair lift at Natural Bridge

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.

natural bridge slade ky

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.

Narrow steps Natural Bridge

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.

tight squeeze Natural Bridge Trail

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.

the top of natural bridge e1543244235407

There are no guardrails at the top of Natural Bridge so keep young kids close by once you reach the top.

view of Natural Bridge at Lookout Point

Take the Lookout Point trail at the top for another perspective of Natural Bridge.

on top of Natural Bridge

The trails at the top are relatively flat which makes it pretty easy to move between different vantage points.

Hoedown Island

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.

hiking at Red River Gorge

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.

YouTube video


You’ll find 600 miles of trails to discover when you visit Red River Gorge with hikes and climbs for all fitness levels.

The following hikes are recommended by

  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 RockPrincess Arch, & Half Moon Arch (1.8 miles – easy)
Ziplinging at Red River Gorge

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.

Zipline at 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.

zipling at Red River Gorge

There is no age limit to zipline but you must weigh between 70 and 250 lbs. 

kids playing in Creation Falls waterfall at Red River Gorge

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.

sandy beach Creation Falls waterfall at Red River Gorge

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.

Rock Bridge at Red River Gorge

Creation Falls and Rock Bridge are located within about 100 yards of each other creating two picturesque spots within steps of each other. 

road to Nada Tunnel

Drive Through Nada Tunnel

20 Nada Tunnel Rd., Stanton, KY

Nada Tunnel is a narrow one-lane 900-foot historic former railroad tunnel.

inside Nada Tunnel in Kentucky

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.

Nada Tunnel Red River Gorge

After you drive through the tunnel, you’ll find plenty of hiking trail options along the road as you go.

Miguels Pizza Red River Gorge e1583929181594

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.

Ale Ale 8 one at Miguel's Pizza one at Miguel's Pizza

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)

pizza at Miguels Pizza at Red River Gorge

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.

picnic table at Miguels Pizza Red River Gorge

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.

pasta at Miguels Pizza

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.

Need a Place to Stay in Red River Gorge?

Compare prices of hotels and vacation rentals near Red River Gorge in Kentucky.

sheltowee trace suspension bridge at Red River Gorge

Are You Ready for an Adventure at Red River Gorge?

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Unique Things to Do at Red River Gorge in Kentucky

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