2006-07-01 - 04, Red River Gorge, Kentucky
Because we found ourselves with a four day weekend rather unexpectedly over the Fourth of July, Russ, Bev and Linda decided to check something out we have been looking at for some time. Russ found this while just looking at a Kentucky map some time ago and after seeing it for ourselves we encourage you to see it as well.
We did it this way. Saturday found us on the road at seven am and we road to Johnson City and ate breakfast. Then on to US-23 toward Pikeville but got off in Big Stone Gap on 463 to 699 to 7 into Hazard we took 15 on into Mount Sterling where we had reservations at the Fairfield Inn. Now there is an upside to this, as you will ride through some of the steepest twistie, turney beautiful country you ever saw. But the downside is you will know you been somewhere by the time you get to Mount Sterling, so for some the interstate may be a better choice.
Our plan was to ride as little as possible the next day and see and hike the park. I would say it is about a 30 minute ride back down to the park from Mount Sterling and getting there is easy, as it is well marked. As you enter the park you will come to a very narrow, long tunnel, and I must warn you here to be very careful. You will find it somewhat difficult to go from daylight to blackness in a place so narrow. As you ride through you will find places to pull over and let oncoming cars pass. Trust me, it’s not like the tunnels on the Parkway!
Shortly after the tunnel you will find a visitors center on your right. Stop here and pick up a map and spend some time learning about what you are about to see. Use the map to pick what you want to hike to. We found most of the trails to be in good condition except for a few places. Please take a pair of shoes made for the occasion, we saw more than one hiker in sandals with cut feet. The ride through the park will take an hour even if you don’t hike. The speed limit is 25, so go slow or a ranger will see that you do.
Linda and Bev
After you exit Red River Gorge Park use your map and DO NOT MISS Natural Bridge state park. Here you will find a chairlift ride to the bridge that in my book is top self. Cost is seven dollars. The last part of the ride will lift you almost straight up to the top of the mountain and the sight is—well—go see for yourself.
Chairlift to Natural Bridge
No Chair Bouncing or Leg Swinging
There are three byways to choose from and we chose ‘The Country Music Byway’. We found this to be little more than a four lane with some names beside the road. The road was scenic enough but there was little to see as far as country music goes. We had reservations in Prestonsburg Ky. We left Mount Sterling and got there around noon; that’s how much there was to stop and see. So we decided to ride some back roads and got back at six pm. We got a bit lost as many Kentucky roads are not marked well at all.
Loretta Lynn hung out here as a young girl.
The store is now operated by her niece.
Let us close with saying if you have a three day weekend we really encourage you to give this some consideration. Only thing we advise is that you make a reservation near the Gorge before you go, as we saw many folks looking for rooms. If this looks like something of interest to you contact us for more details.
Russ and Bev