We’re kicking off our summer road trip series — Hit the Road — with an outdoor adventure-themed trip to Red River Gorge. With guided rock climbing and famous pies from Miguel’s Pizza, this lush area in the Daniel Boone National Forest (yep, the historical frontiersman first set foot here in the 1700s) is a great destination for experienced adventurers + novice nature seekers alike.
Before you start packing your bags, here’s everything you need to know about the geological area + our insider recommendations.
Drive time: ~1.53 hours
Est. population: 2,701 people (2020)
Avg. high in June: 83 degrees
🥾Things to do
The Gorge is known for its 60+ hiking trails + we recommend starting simple by hiking Gray’s Arch — an easy, 4-mile trip. Kick it up a notch to the moderate Auxier Ridge & Courthouse Rock loop, and if you’re an expert, tempt the 3.5-mile Indian Staircase and Indian Arch.
Get a canopy tour of the Daniel Boone National Forest from 300 feet above the ground as you zoom along five different lines — the longest of which spanning 1,900 feet.
Pronounced “nay-dah,” this passageway is known as “The Gateway to The Red River Gorge,” and was built by Dana Lumber Company in the early 1900s. The tunnel is only 12-ft wide + 13-ft tall, which means only one car at a time can go through, so put on your headlights and drive with caution, sharing is caring.
🍽️ Fuel up after hiking
Daniel Boone Coffee Shop, 769 Natural Bridge Rd., Slade, KY
Pair your coffee with a selection of breakfast and lunch items, or skip the caffeine and get a milkshake or smoothie + this destination also doubles as a gift shop
Hop’s, 2613 KY-11, Campton, KY
Focusing on regional food and drinks, this beer garden + outdoor dining destination offers housemade beer cheese and pesto, treats like bourbon Rice Krispy squares, and filling entrees like the jumbo shells stuffed with local beef.
Red River Rockhouse, 4000 KY-11, Campton, KY
This farm-to-table restaurant is recognized as a Bon Appetite Appalachia destination and utilizes ingredients from 10+ local artisans and farmers. The menu offers burgers, tacos, salads, a kid’s meal + desserts. We recommend getting the burrito.
🏕️ Cozy campsites + cabins
Lago Linda Hideaway, 950 Blacks Ridge Rd., Beattyville, KY
Owned by the Fredrickson family, this 410-acre property offers cabins + traditional and RV camping. The campground also includes amenities like The Shake-Out Lounge — with free Wi-Fi — an outdoor pavilion for social gatherings, trails for hiking, and a pond.
Scenic Cabin Rentals, 769 Natural Bridge Rd., Slade, KY
Located in the heart of Natural Bridge State Park, you’ll be spoiled for choice with the multitude of lodging options here — from pet-friendly digs to cabins that can sleep up to 16 people.
Natural Bridge State Resort, 2135 Natural Bridge Rd., Slade, KY
Adjacent to Red River Gorge, this resort is anchored by the 35-room Hemlock Lodge, where each room has its own private balcony. The resort is also home to 11 cottages + 86 campsites.
Looking for more recommendations? Head to the link below. Plus, stay tuned for the July installment of our Hit the Road series. We’ll be highlighting a 30-mile road trip.