It was 3 AM on a Saturday, and I was awake and dressed. Naturally, I was making coffee in an attempt to force myself out the sleepy delirium of such a time to be up on a weekend. I was trying hard to stay psyched about the lone six hour drive that lay ahead of me. It was only yesterday that I had decided to drive down approximately 500 miles to Red River Gorge, Kentucky. I really had no idea what lay ahead of me, as I only did a casual glance of research into the area beforehand. The few pictures of the limestone cliffs and the allure of fall scenery was all it took for me to plan a short day visit. All I had planned was driving down there early Saturday morning, and leaving mid-Sunday morning. Here's what I found to do and not to do in my quick 24 hours visit to Red River Gorge.
Glade visitor center
The first stop to any trip into Red River Gorge, especially if you are planning an overnight, is Glade Visitor Center. At the visitor center, you can get directions, maps, and an overnight pass. At three dollars a night, it is a steal to backcountry camp.
off road pull offs
Around the Daniel Boon National Forest, its not all about the destination. Even just forested off road pull offs present gorgeous views of the foliage, especially if you go in fall. The road around Red River Gorge is only just big enough for two cars to pass by, so it gets a little interesting on finding someone coming the opposite direction. In the event a large vehicle comes by, and you find yourself needing to pull off the road. Do yourself a favor, and step outside just to explore the surroundings.
Courthouse Rock is a great loop hike in the area. It offers impressive views of the surrounding area, but if you wish to go higher than a few of the levels up, I would suggest you bring climbing equipment. I found myself just beat by Courthouse due to the near verticle crack seen above. Had I had my climbing gear I may have got an even better view than from the trail only a little ways up the trail from Courthouse.
chimney top night
After hiking around the area of Red River Gorge, head over to Chimney Top. So many people head over to chimney top early in their visit, but really...really, take your time and head over there near sunset. This is after setting up your camp near the trailhead after all. The views from the top of Chimney top are amazing to view the stars. There are plenty of ample spaces for pitching a tent.
CHIMNEY TOP ROCK MORNING
I knew I had to break Chimney Top Rock up into two parts, since not everyone wakes up early in the morning during camping. But, it is such a suggestion that you do. Chimney top offers such an amazing view of the whole Gorge, but beyond this view, the morning view of the fog rolling though the Gorge is beyond imagination. Wake up early - only a little after the sun rises, and you will be treated to a view beyond imagination.