Things To Do In Red River Gorge & Natural Bridge Resort State Park, Kentucky
See Our Insider Guides For Hiking, Climbing,
Canoeing, Fishing & More
Take a ride with us through the Nada Tunnel entrance to the Red River Gorge in Slade, Kentucky
Click on each adventure below to see our insider guides
Hiking is great exercise and an exciting adventure for everyone. Bring your hiking stick and wear good hiking boots, as the rocks can be rugged. Tackle the challenging hike up and down to see the amazing sandstone arch called Natural Bridge for a few hours of serious hiking. Want an easier hike, or looking for your very first hike? Ride the sky lift up to top, then hop off for an easy walk out to Natural Bridge, where you can take some great pictures and look over at Lookout Pointe. Then walk back to the sky lift and take another easy hike out to Lookout Pointe, gazing back at the Natural Bridge, where you just hiked! You can keep on going to Lover’s Leap, or head back to the sky lift for the ride back down. Be sure to stop at the gift shop for homemade fudge, postcards, and souvenirs. Download a map of the Original Trail at Natural Bridge State Resort Park here.
There are dozens of hiking trails in the Red River Gorge, such as the walk out to Chimney Rock to take in an incredible panoramic view you won’t see anywhere else. Enter the Gorge at historic Nada Tunnel, which is an adventure in itself! Drive past incredible rock formations, stop to hike out for a first-hand look at the cottage at Gladie. Check out some of the most popular hikes, trails and arches - plus maps showing their location - here. You can also search for a hike from this site!
Don’t know where to go hiking? Or looking for unique hiking trails in the Gorge that aren’t shown on a hiking map? No problem! Tim and Christie Abrams know ALL the trails in the area and offer guided hikes for one person or an entire group, customized to your needs and wishes! They showed Dale Smith, Cabins of Birch Hollow developer and manager, the unofficial and unmarked trail to the gorgeous Copperas Creek Falls in March 2019, and he says it was awesome! Their prices are so reasonable that you need to check out their web site at Leave No Trace Adventures and give them a call as you plan your hiking adventure! We love their emphasis on respecting the natural beauty of the Gorge, as it matches perfectly with our own motto: “Take Only Pictures…Leave Only Footprints.”
Check out the hiking guide for both Natural Bridge and the Red River Gorge for more information
From families to corporate teams, rock climbing is a great way to try something brand new and challenging together.
Try rock climbing on your own or with a group at Southeast Mountain Guides, formerly known as Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure, located just minutes away from the Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Their Via Ferrata system is the first of its kind in the entire country! It aids the climber by using cables and iron hand/foot rungs, and it offers a variety of climbs, from novice to expert, between March and December. Their certified climbing instructors provided guided rock climbing, and both classes and clinics are available, as well as private lessons. Don't know what "rappelling" is? Find out all about it on their new website.
Customized rock climbing courses and safe, educational, exciting adventures also await you at Kentucky Rock & Adventure Guides, or KRAG, whose guides are certified through the American Mountain Guides Association. Beginner, sport climbing, and traditional climbing options are offered, as well as rappelling. Check out their course offerings to see what resonates with you and your group.
You can also try rock climbing on your own in the Red River Gorge, but please put safety first, no matter where your rock climbing adventure takes you!
If you are a seasoned zip liner, or you would like to become one, find your way to Red River Gorge Ziplines, where you can sail over the treetops for a bird’s eye view of the Daniel Boone National Forest. It’s exhilarating! Their Canopy Tours have 5 zip lines and last 2-3 hours. Imagine soaring over the Gorge at 55 MPH! You don't have to imagine it - come experience it!
Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboating
There is water adventure at every level in "The Red". If you love a challenge, head to the upper reaches, and get ready for some excitement that will take your breath away! However, the Red River in the Red River Gorge is also a great place to learn to canoe or kayak, as the lower areas make for a relaxing ride with great views of your surroundings from a unique vantage point! Our friends at Red River Adventure will take care of you and your group, whether you are a novice, a daredevil, or somewhere in between, making for a fabulous adventure over several hours.
Adventurous swimmers will love jumping off the huge rocks into the Red River in the Gorge! You can stop along the river bank during your canoe or kayak trip in the lower areas, taking short hikes, swimming or relaxing before continuing down the river. Be sure to call ahead to Red River Adventures, as the water levels may be too low during certain times of the year. Because the Gorge is remote, be sure to take the proper gear and supplies of food and water, and go in groups.
New in 2017 - kayaks for fishing and SUP (Stand Up Paddle) rentals on beautiful Mill Creek Lake, near Natural Bridge, plus hiking and boat shuttle services! Stop by the welcome station for more information about the great water activities offered by our friends at Red River Adventure - and pick up some unique items for serious paddlers!
Fishing is available at Mill Creek near Natural Bridge State Resort Park. This beautiful, peaceful lake is a favorite of area photographers, as Mill Creek is surrounded by lush forest and sandstone cliffs, with the most famous sandstone arch, Natural Bridge, just across the road and up the mountain. You can fish from the bank or rent a canoe or kayak from Red River Adventure and enjoy canoeing/kayaking and fishing at the same time! They have fishing gear at their welcome station you can pick up before your adventure. You can also fly fish or hop out of your canoe and fish right in the Red River Gorge.
You can purchase a fishing license ahead of time online from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources - or call Red River Adventures for information on where to pick one up when you get here. Be sure to check on the fishing regulations and forecast before you go.
Do the kids love to swim? The huge pool and picnic area at Hemlock Lodge, located at Natural Bridge Resort State Park, is a very inexpensive family adventure. Pack a lunch, have a great day swimming and picnicking together – just like in the old days when you were a kid. There's a kiddie pool there and plenty of lounge chairs for Mom to relax in while watching the kids. There are lots of picnic tables in a park-like setting nearby.
If you or your kids have a streak of the daredevil, head to the Red River in the Red River Gorge for a truly unique experience leaping from the huge rocks into the river below!
Finish the day around a fire pit at your cozy cabin, roasting marshmallows and singing your favorite songs until the kids fall asleep. Memories like these cost very little and will last a lifetime!
Horse Back Riding
A recent guest told us about the great time his family had at Whisper Valley Riding Trails in nearby Beattyville, Kentucky, which is about 35 minutes from the cabins. This 50-acre natural park, located within a canyon system adjacent to the Daniel Boone National Forest, offers fabulous views of 100-ft high rock outcropping on both sides of the trails, numerous waterfalls, a 100-ft long cavern, and the sound of a creek all along the trail! 100-ft tall trees create a shady canopy that keeps you riding comfortably, even in the hottest months of summer. Learn about the history of this beautiful area from your trail guide. Riders of all ages are welcome.
According to their website, "if you listen closely, you might just hear the whisper of the valley".
If you have a more relaxing agenda for your stay, you may choose to simply enjoy the comfort and seclusion of one of our deluxe mountain homes in Birch Hollow. Each of the 10 cabins in our private 300-acre development has been custom-designed and furnished with amenities and decor to make your mountain getaway a retreat from the stress and hurry of the world. Catch a great view from a rocking chair or swing on an outside deck.
Make a fire in the fire pit or outside wood-burning fireplace and be mesmerized by the flame long after the sun goes down, then head for the bubbling hot tub to relax, catch a glimpse of a full Kentucky moon, and hear the wondrous sounds of nature occasionally breaking the silence. Sleep in, fix a simple meal with loved ones, play a game of pool or cards, and re-connect with nature and the most important people in your life. Take a stroll or choose from two hikes in our own Dale Hollow Hiking Trails, right in Birch Hollow, or wander down to the dock by the catch and release pond. You may stumble upon one of three stone chimneys - all that remains of houses built well over 100 years ago!
If you want to experience the famous Red River Gorge in a relaxing way, enter the famous narrow Nada Tunnel and drive through the 17 miles of winding roads in the Red River Gorge, to see as much of the 28,000 natural acres as you can! Stop along the way at numerous lookout points to catch a stunning view, take some pictures, marvel at incredible outcroppings of rocks, and listen to the soothing sound of the Red River flowing below. If you time it just right, you can catch an awesome sunrise or a spectacular sunset, or marvel at a distant mountain range, as photographer John Snell has captured in these images.
Stop at the Gladie Visitor Center and chat with the friendly staff, pick up some brochures, and see a short film about the hidden treasure known as the Red River Gorge. Park the car and take a short walk out to the Gladie cabin for a peek inside. Depending on the time of year, you may see beautiful blooming redbuds, laurel, and dogwoods - or gorgeous orange, red gold shades of Fall leaves. Listen for the sound of wild turkeys and a variety of birds - and drive slowly, in case a deer crosses your path!
If your idea of fun and adventure involves a much slower pace, come experience a Cabins of Birch Hollow getaway.
Our 10 deluxe cabins rest on about 20 acres in a 300-acre private development, with a pond, brooks, and two hiking trails with great mountain views! Enjoy the luxury of a premier cabin like Mane Stay, custom-designed with prize-winning Kentucky thoroughbreds in mind. Our guests expect amenities like cozy fireplaces, bubbling hot tubs, TVs/DVS, fire pits, game tables, and lots of peace and quiet.
Our private hiking trails are great for beginners or experienced hikers - you choose from our two trails on the map you are provided at check-in. Your dog will love roaming the trails with you, so book one of our Pet-friendly cabins! What is really fun is to stumble upon one of the three stone chimneys in Birch Hollow that are the only remains of homes built over a century ago! Grill your family favorites and savor a meal on your deck, breathe in the fresh air mountain air, and enjoy the sounds of nature around you with those you love. Roast marshmallows over the fire pit, bring your guitar and start a sing-a-long. These memories last a lifetime. It just doesn't get any better than this!
The Gorge Underground
The Gorge Underground offers a Kayak Adventure, Paddleboarding or a guided Cave Boat Tour near Cliffview. Paddle your way through the cavern or join the passengers on a boat for an hour-long experience unlike any other! Learn the history and how the cavern came to be flooded. Open year-round, and all the safety gear is provided for you! You can also bring your own boat, if you prefer.
Get the kids and grandkids off the phones and tablets and show them a cave adventure they will never forget! Get more information at www.gorgeunderground.com. Call or go online to purchase tickets.
The Gorge Underground offers an exciting choice of adventures to add excitement to your stay in the Red River Gorge / Natural Bridge area of Kentucky.
Places to Eat
Daniel Boone Trading Post - Just up the road off Exit 33 in Slade, Kentucky, stop for a quick snack, coffee, smoothies and homemade goodies - even basic groceries to take to the cabin - in the Coffee and Grocery area. Nice stop en route to the Red River Gorge or Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Dine inside or on the back deck. Wifi and ATM machine.
http://www.danielboonetradingpost.net/ - map and directions on website when you Click to Explore
Daniel Boone Trading Post
769 Natural Bridge Road
Slade, Kentucky 40376
Hours: Monday - Sunday: 9 am - 9 pm
Miguels Pizza -Hip cafe featuring made-to-order pizza combined with a climbing gear shop & campgrounds. In addition to making delicious homemade pizza for over 40 years, Miquels was established to serve the rock climbers who come from all over the world to climb rocks here, many of them staying in tents on the land around and in back of Miquels. But all visitors - rock climbers or not - love this place and come back year after year. Newest features include a longer beverage list: Ale-8, beer, wine, fire cider and margaritas! Check out Miguel's Rock Climbing Shop
Miguel's is located just up the road from the entrance to Natural Bridge State Resort Park (NBSRP), making it a great place to stop before or after: 1) hiking up to the Natural Bridge Arch (or taking the sky lift to the top of the arch), 2) swimming/kayaking/canoeing in the Red River in the Gorge, or 3) fishing at nearby Mill Creek Lake. NBSRP also has picnic tables and a stream for fishing.
Miguels is close to all of these activities. They also do catering for local events like weddings, business meetings, family reunions.
La Cabana Mexican Restaurant serves the absolute BEST Mexican food in The Gorge! From burritos to fajitas to tacos, nachos and chimichangas — the choices are scrumptious and hearty any time of year, but especially after a full day of adventure and exploring in the Red River Gorge or Natural Bridge! The full bar is open, the friendly customer service is outstanding, and you can choose in-door dining or order ahead for pickup. All of this awaits you at this convenient location on Natural Bridge Road just off Mountain Parkway Exit 33, right down the road from the new Welcome Center in Slade, Kentucky.
But La Cabana oﬀers even more—great shopping for shirts, caps, books, souvenirs, and GNOMES! Check out all the food and gift choices on their website at www.lacabanaofslade.com
Red River Rockhouse Cafe - While Miguels Pizza has been around over 30 years, focusing on great pizza and Ale-8, Red River Rockhouse is owned by young rock climbers who wanted to live and raise their families in Nature - away from the noise and hustle and bussle of city life.
Red River Rockhouse Cafe offers a range of eclectic menu items using local ingredients: hummus wraps, grass-fed burgers, kale salad, buttermilk pancakes, sweet potato fries, burritos and organic beer, wine and bourbon (it is located in Wolfe County, which is not "DRY" like Powell County). Eat inside or outside. Head toward Cliffview from Natural Bridge State Resort Park and you can't miss the huge black bear at the entrance.
Address: 4000 KY Route 11, Campton, Kentucky 41301 (4 miles from Natural Bridge State Resort Park, toward Cliffview) - Map and directions on website
Closed - after Thanksgiving through February, opens March 1.
Video: On the website under About Us - be sure to watch it and link to it in posts!!!
Red River Smokehouse - a new restaurant in the heart of the Red River Gorge! Great food and catering for events. Slowly smoked offerings with special choices for "the little ones" in your group. Cobblers for dessert. Only found one picture we can use for now. I'm sure there will be more by the time season starts.
Sandstone Arches Restaurant is inside the Hemlock Lodge at Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Inside the Hemlock Lodge entrance is the Sandstone Arches Restaurant - a huge family style restaurant overlooking the huge outdoor swimming pool at Natural Bridge. The Trails End Tavern is also located in the Hemlock Lodge.
Sky Bridge Station - Gourmet hotdogs, quesadillas, nachos and more await you at this favorite hangout in Campton Kentucky. Live music on weekends, bar, dart games, books - nice change of pace and just a short drive from the cabins.
No website, but they have a Facebook page (photos, reviews, and videos) and can be found on the Kentucky Tourism website:
Places to Shop
Daniel Boone Trading Post - There are lots of great gift ideas in the trading post - part of the area is for dining and a lot more is for unique gifts, many of them by local artisans. Just up the road off Exit 33 in Slade, Kentucky. Nice stop en route to the Red River Gorge or Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Wifi and ATM machine.
http://www.danielboonetradingpost.net/ - map and directions on website when you Click to Explore
Daniel Boone Trading Post
769 Natural Bridge Road
Slade, Kentucky 40376
Hours: Monday - Sunday: 9 am - 9 pm
The Gift Shop at Natural Bridge State Resort Park is in Hemlock Lodge - the same building as the Sandstone Arches Restaurant. There are clothes, books, novelty items, candy, etc in this very classy gift shop. It is right down the hall from the Sandstone Arches restaurant, so it's nice to browse before or after a meal.
Natural Bridge Skylift & Gift Shop at Natural Bridge State Resort Park - when you drive in by the sign, you turn left to go to Hemlock Lodge and right to go to the sky lift. There is a cute little gift shop located next to the place where you get into the lift to ride to the top. The gift shop has typical novelty items like post cards, mugs, hats, pictures, handcrafted items, and awesome homemade fudge.
Just Plain Fancy Boutique is your one stop shop for women's apparel, jewelry, accessories, handbags and more! Offering big city styles at small town prices! Located in the small town of Stanton, Kentucky. The owner of this cute shop also owns Ramble and Roam in Slade, Kentucky
Ramble and Roam Co. was opened in the summer of 2018. It is located just down from the Daniel Boone Trading Post in Slade, KY. This fantastic little store is full of unique, reasonably priced, creative items, tee shirts, totes, caps, and fun gift ideas for all ages. Located in the heart of the Red River Gorge, Ramble & Roam Co. hosts an eclectic assortment of unique items for the wanderers of the world! Motto: “Not All Who Wander are Lost ..."
Ye Ole Country Peddler features collectibles, fudge, holiday items and more.
Boone Forest Shop is a quaint shop with just a little bit of everything. You can find Natural Bridge fleece sweaters to antique dolls in this store. It somewhat reminds you of a mini flee market as there are buckets of sandals being sold along with many knick knacks. The store sells some unique items that you many not be able to find anywhere else. There is also a great candy and fudge selection to grab a good treat!
918 Natural Bridge Rd., Slade, KY
Map & Directions
Great For A Wilderness Getaway
"Clean, dog-friendly 2 bedroom cabin. Great for a wilderness get away with lots of hiking and horseback riding close by in Red River Gorge and at Natural Bridges. Don’t miss the underground kayaking in the flooded mine. Would highly recommend to anyone looking to get away."
Perfect Place For Family Time
"Booked this trip for my wife, two adult children, and their significant others. From the moment we booked months ago to the moment we locked the door to leave [Lakewood] Cabin (it's much more than a cabin), the experience was wonderful. The setting of the home, amenities, the fireplace on the deck, shuffleboard, babbling brook, and the sounds of nature were a perfect place for us to get family time.
We took the quick trip to the Natural Bridge State Park and that was amazing to hike or take the chairlift if you prefer. We also took an 80-minute drive for a couple of bourbon distillery visits. Even if you are not a bourbon fan it's amazing. We also took a drive to Churchill Downs for a tour and also saw a race which was a good take (it is a 2+ hour drive) but it was family time. But the trips paled in comparison to the time together on the deck of the cabin. Great setting, great fun. Thank you."