Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Kentucky, Food, Hiking, Parks, Sightseeing, YouTube Video Link

Experiencing Red River Gorge

It seems crazy the number of things in a three-hour radius from our home that we have not gone to yet. One of these was the Red River Gorge. We know people who had gone, people who had loved it, but we had never been there. As part of our quick summer vacation, we decided to stay a couple of days and see the Gorge.

One of the nice things about Red River Gorge is that is free to enter. There are of course things to spend your money on: local stores, souvenirs, the Sky Bridge, and adventures like rock climbing or kayaking.

Our first day there we drove through the park. Our pathway from our cabin took us through Nada Tunnel. It was a really neat tunnel, rough-hewed, single lane, without any lights. You could see water dripping. We stopped at the Gladie Visitor Center to check out the souvenirs and to get a park map. The Visitor Center had a nice selection of souvenirs, clean restrooms, friendly staff, and fun interactive exhibits. They had different animal pelts that you could touch, as well as a video of the park.

(NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.)

Nada Tunnel

We ended up at the Sky Bridge. It was a nice little hike. It had a couple of different sets of stairs, but a clearly defined path. It was a very hot and muggy day, but there was plenty of shade along the trails. We walked across Sky Bridge and then took the path that led us underneath the bridge. It was very neat to see it from a different perspective, as when you are up top, you don’t really notice the arch shape. There were several spots that had dripping water, which made a very cool and unique sound.

Day two of our Gorge adventure led us to the Sky Lift. It was $17 per adult for a round-trip ticket. Tickets could be bought in the gift shop. They had an interesting video and a pressed penny machine (Nick was very happy) in the outside booth. The ride up was enjoyable and we had a nice breeze. The steep uphill (or downhill for the return) can give you a jolt when you first see it). There is a nice trail nearby as well that gives you a nice overlook of the area. TIP: Secure your items! If they fall you will not get them back. Nick’s new pocket knife was lost to the wilderness as it fell out of his pocket halfway up to the top. (YouTube: link to video.)

From the top of the Sky Lift, we went to see the Natural Bridge. This was also a neat bridge that you couldn’t really see well unless you were underneath it. Nick and I decided to adventure through Fat Man’s Misery, a narrow gorge in the rock that leads you to the bottom of the Natural Bridge. Ben and Will stayed behind.

We stopped for some pizza at Miguel’s before driving up to Chimney Top for a picnic. The pizza was really good and they had so many different topping options! (Thank you for the recommendation, Mindy!) I froze when presented with so many options and went with a really boring pizza, but it all looked delicious as it came out. After lunch, we took another short hike and really enjoyed the views. There were several caution signs about not getting close to the edges. We watched the river and a hawk floating on the breeze.

The main attractions at Red River Gorge seem to be rock climbing, kayaking, and primitive camping. Due to Will’s restrictions from surgery this summer, we kept to the easier trails. It was pretty empty, as we were late in the summer vacation season. Compared to some other places we have been to, it was tough to tell it was a gorge due to the abundance of trees and other plants. It must be gorgeous in the fall. I’m glad we went, but as we are not rock climbers or really even kayakers, I don’t know that we would go back.

Red River Gorge Rating: 2/5 hitches (For us. If you love rock climbing and kayaking, I’m sure it would be amazing!)

Posted in: Animal Sightings, Exploring Utah, Hiking, National Park, National Parks, Sightseeing

Canyonlands National Park

We had not heard of Canyonlands National Park until getting ready for this trip. It’s not too far from Arches, maybe 30 minutes, so we left early in the morning to go see it.

It was crazy to see these deep canyons. It must have been shocking for people coming through to have mountains, then flat land, and then bam! suddenly huge holes in the ground. Apparently they also tried to mine for uranium in Canyonlands during the 1950’s.

Our first hike in the park was to the Mesa Arch. The trail is pretty easy and is only about a mile. It was a warm day, but we had a nice breeze for most of it. It made hiking much easier.

We then drove on to Upheaval Dome. The dome overlook was quite the hike with several areas close to the edge. I think it was about 1.5 miles. The beginning of the trail is marked pretty well, but then you get onto solid rock surfaces and the trail is only marked by cairns. The views were amazing. Upheaval Dome was pretty neat, with all kinds of colors and jagged edges.

We saw a few small lizards and a couple of chipmunks. As Will was sitting on a rock, a small lizard came right up to him and almost climbed on his boot!

After Upheaval Dome, we took a few minutes to chill at the picnic area at the trailhead. We all enjoyed cold waters from the cooler and a few snacks. We drove along the road and stopped at several pull-outs and overlooks. Several areas were hazy, so we didn’t get as clear of a view as I would have liked. As we were reading about the dryness of the area and how it only gets about 10” of rain a year, it started raining on us!

Top picture, right side: Rain in the dessert

NOTE: I would use bathrooms along trails in the park, not at the visitor center. The visitor center had squat toilets!

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