Despite several attractions open only between Memorial Day and Labor Day (canoeing and other water activities, for example), peak season for Natural Bridge State Resort Park and Red River Gorge is in the spring and fall. From Louisville, it’s about 130 miles to the state park.
There are two campgrounds, Whittleton and Middle Fork, that are run by the park and feature showers and restrooms. Other campgrounds are available in the area such as Koomer Ridge, which is closer to Red River Gorge. By purchasing a permit, campers can set up primitive camp, with no modern amenities, within Red River Gorge to truly experience the tranquil atmosphere. Hemlock Lodge and a variety of cottages and cabins can be rented for those not wishing to “rough it.”
There are several trails to hike in Natural Bridge State Resort Park.
Avoid the most heavily-trafficked passage to the Natural Bridge by taking the Rock Garden Trail: 1.75 miles with moderate incline throughout. Several spots along the trail open up to a beautiful rock expanse. Take a look back in time as you examine the multi-colored layers of exposed sandstone.
Once you’ve traversed the Natural Bridge and fully taken in the sweeping vistas, take the Laurel Ridge Trail to descend. It’s .75 mile and travels to a commanding view of the forest and to passageways such as Devil’s Gulch.
The Original Trail is an easy .75 mile walk to Natural Bridge – the shortest way to reach the landmark.
From the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway, follow the signs to Red River Gorge for more breathtaking views and serene hikes. A map of trails is available by clicking here.
Rough Trail, nearly 8 miles from end to end, provides a pleasant walk along a babbling brook and leads to landmarks such as Gray’s Arch.
Shopping and Eating
Miguels Pizza and Rock Climbing Shop is famous among travelers. The restaurant offers pizza-by-the-slice along with sandwiches and “the best breakfast burrito,” according to one camper. Enjoy the traditional pizza toppings plus not-so-traditional ones such as potato, sweet potato and pasta noodles. In addition to the restaurant, Miguels caters to campers, offering a campsite, showers and laundry.
Hemlock Lodge offers buffet-style dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including a seafood buffet.
Several general stores offer kitschy knick-knacks, sundries and a variety of fudge. Pay $3 at Wild Things of Kentucky to view snakes, poisonous spiders and a working honey bee colony.
For adventure-seekers and those looking to relax, Natural Bridge State Resort Park and Red River Gorge offers plenty for both!