Outdoor Treasures in Kentucky

Looking to get out of town for a bit? Away from the hustle and bustle of the city and suburb? If that is the case, then Kentucky has just what you need. Here are a few Kentucky destinations that will have you communing with nature and breathing easy just as soon as you arrive. 

Photo credit: Kentucky Department of Tourism

Rail Explorer
Using a pedal powered vehicle that rides on railroad tracks, explore the gorgeous Kentucky countryside on a 10-mile round trip as you travel through thoroughbred horse farms & deep limestone cuts. Once you arrive at the turnaround point, rest for a bit at the picnic area on the cliffs above the Kentucky River. Enjoy the view of the Wild Turkey Distillery and Young’s High Bridge built in 1889.

The Red River
In the Red River Gorge, paddlers of all levels and abilities can experience excellent whitewater in a remote, wild area of unparalleled beauty.

For those looking for a beginner or family-friendly option, try the Middle and Lower sections of the Red, which are rated Class I and offer great fishing opportunities. Perfect for beginners, the Copperas Creek Canoe launch, located near the KY 715 bridge, is the most recommended paddle. This 10.5-mile section is mostly Class I and includes enough sandbars, riffles, and small ledges to keep the trip interesting. It takes about 6 hours to complete, and camping is available in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Experienced paddlers can head to the upper Red River, where they’ll find a 10.8-mile section that’s considered one of the most challenging runs, and also one of the prettiest stretches of whitewater in the Southeast. After you put in at the Big Branch Canoe Launch near KY 746, the river winds through a series of Class III rapids and can be extremely dangerous during high water. In this remote location within the Clifty Wilderness, you’ll have no trouble finding solitude.

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forrest
As Kentucky’s Official State Arboretum, Bernheim features 16,000 acres of wildlife sanctuary, a landscaped arboretum and a visitor center that has an open, airy design, combining the latest “green” construction techniques. Packed with indoor and outdoor exhibits – including the Forest Giants, canopy tree walk, scent and sound mazes, and new trails and walkways – Bernheim offers many opportunities to enjoy and learn about nature.

Cumberland Falls
This waterfall is often referred to as “The Niagara of the South” due to its size. If you go during a full moon, you may catch a photo of a “moonbow,” a phenomenon not found anywhere else in the western hemisphere.