Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Red River Gorge Geological Area

I exchanged this: Obey River's Memorial Day crowd,
 For this: Koomer Ridge Campground in the Daniel Boone National Forest, KY.
We'll get to the Geology, but first some Botany. The Mountain Laurel are in full bloom along the Cliff Trail that leads from the campground.
It's hard to appreciate in a photo, you need to be here.
Here are some of the cliffs, but they are hard to see with all the foliage. They are really just a teaser; we'll be seeing lots more cliffs and other geological features on a loop driving tour.
But first, another teaser...another hike from the campground to "Hidden Arch" reveals this small arch half-way down the side of a cliff. It is one of more than 100 natural stone arches in the area.
 You can't see the arch from this side, but it gives you an idea of the terrain.
 You begin to see the Hidden Arch as you descend this staircase from the top.
Are you ready for the driving tour? 
The road takes us into the wilderness. On the right is Clifty Wilderness, a true wilderness with no roads or development, and only a few hiking trails. Most of our tour is on the left side of the road.
Our first stop is for a short 1/4 mile trail to Angel Windows formation.
What a sweet natural heart shape in the rock. Lovers have carved their names inside.
The left side of the trail is cliffs and rock shelters; on the right it drops off steeply into the gorge.
Here are the Angel Windows...twin arches.
It was so quiet I thought I could hear the Angels singing as I gazed through one of the windows. I guess it was really birds I heard...
The next stop will take us to Whistling Arch and some "Gorge"ous views.
I'm guessing the wind whistles through here on a windy day. No wind today.
At first, a cave-like opening, called a rockhouse is formed in the side of a cliff. A rockhouse on a narrow ridge erodes slowly until an opening is cut below the ridge. This is called a lighthouse. Whistling arch is an example of such a formation. Early Indians often took shelter in rockhouses like this one.
A side road leads to Sky Bridge. This overlook is on the way.
Some of the cliffs look painted...stained by minerals.
Sky Bridge is a large stone arch that you can walk across. 
Notice there are fences until you get out on the actual bridge, then nothing but sky.
People have carved their names in the soft sandstone on top of the arch.
Views from the top.

This is another viewpoint showing the side view of Sky Bridge. It's hard to tell because of all the trees.
From here the road leads down to the Red River, the source of all these rock formations. 
The river looks pretty shallow and tame from here, but its powerful eroding forces along with wind and rain formed the gorge and all the rock formations within it....over the past 50,000 years or more.
Farther up the river the water is a little deeper. They say Spring and Fall are the best times to kayak.
Our next stop is the Visitor Center. The friendly rangers can help you plan your visit. There is too much here for a one-day drive-through...I'll have to come back another time. The Visitor Center has many wonderful displays, but I had a doggie in the car, so didn't stay to look around.
On the grounds of the VC is this log house, built in the 1800s.
About the house...
A roadside photo-op for this tiny waterfall.
As we continue along the Red River we find Mrs. duck and her ducklings.
This trail follows beside the river to a suspension bridge.
The ranger told me this is called "jumping-off rock."
It's a favorite swimming hole for locals. The water is 40-feet deep below the rock.
A little wildlife. The deer ran away too fast.
Approaching the suspension bridge...there is an artist painting it.
Want to look over her shoulder? She may be trying to paint it in a different season?
Looking across the suspension bridge. Yes, it sways as you walk on it.
Next we come to 900-foot Nada Tunnel, a narrow tunnel built built for use by a logging company during the early 1900s.
I had to wait for a line of motorcycles for my turn.
The Tunnel Ridge Road (so named because it travels over the top of that tunnel) is a 5-mile long gravel road into the gorge area. It has more trails and scenic vistas.
Just in case you forget where you are.
The Daniel Boone Hut Trail leads to a rock shelter where some evidence suggests Boone may have spent the winter in his Pioneer Days.
Sometimes things catch my these unusual shaped grasses.

The trail goes down into the gorge...
Areas under the rock shelters are fenced off to protect rare plants and archeological sites.
I took a wrong turn and ended up at the wrong rock shelter, but who knows? Daniel Boone could have used this one too.

Interesting how the forces of nature have shaped the rock.

Another overlook of the gorge.
In the face of the cliff seen above are huge caves formed by rushing water, probably thousands of years ago.
People often ask me how I plan my trips and find the places I visit. Often I plan my route using this atlas.
I look for points of interest indicated by the red squares. Then I look them up on the internet to find out more about them. If it seems interesting, I plan a stop there. The tent usually indicates a National Forest campground. That's where I stayed. There is also a State Park campground nearby.
Now Thistle is wondering what happened to all the other dogs and people.


  1. Another great post. Your photos are awesome. I have never seen that Atlas. Looks like it would be worth purchasing. Maybe Amazon has it. Big difference from your two campsites. I would prefer the quiet one.

  2. See you soon, Margie. Enjoy your trip north....sounds like you have a lot planned. I think I got my Atlas at Walmart. I but a new one every year because I wear them out, lol.