Upper Red River - Red River Gorge Geologic Area


May 3, 2013
“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”
Wendell Berry, The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky's Red River Gorge

The stunning and remote 20 mile section of the Red River that flows through the Clifty Wilderness Area and into the Geologic Area is the only federally designated National Wild & Scenic River in Kentucky. It's free flowing and has a tiny watershed, making it a challenge to catch it with enough water in the summer. The lower roadside section is popular with canoes and tourists, the class 1 waters are perfect for lazy floats amongst the giant sandstone boulders.
The Army Corp of Engineers was set to dam this river back in the 60's. With the help of the Sierra Club, local support, a Supreme Court Justice and KY author Wendell Berry, more than 2 decades of fighting finally led to Clinton designating the Upper Red as a National Wild & Scenic River.

I took 4 intrepid noobies down for their first personal descent on the 4th of July down the 11 mile wilderness section. Rising water levels made for an interesting day in the Narrows, a solid class 3/3+. Plenty of flips, rolls, missed rolls, swims...good show. Everyone made it out with all their limbs and gear, all smiles on the paddle out.
River otters, bear scat, hawks...and only 1 other group on the entire stretch of river that day. We didn't see any bald eagles or fireworks but regardless it was the perfect way to spend the 4th.




The Falls of the Red. Chocolaty, frothy fun.





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And the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act. Hard to believe that Utah and Colorado only have 1 federally designated Wild & Scenic River.
Damn Dams.
Ohh man this sounds like it was a blast. Great pics too. Who knew Kentucky had cool stuff like this besides their caves.
Ha! Yeah...Kentucky is quite a bit more than Mammoth Cave NP. In fact, that's the more boring part of the state :)
Looks like a blast. My wife grew up about an hour from there and at this point I think I have hiked every trail in the area. Now I guess I need to look into canoeing the river.
Cool! Definitely check it out. the Upper is a good canoe trip if you have solid class 3 whitewater skills at lower flows. The lower section is easier, still very scenic but roadside.
Check out the Big South Fork too. Great canoe camping on the KY side, world class whitewater on the TN side. A true southeast gem.
Ha! Yeah...Kentucky is quite a bit more than Mammoth Cave NP. In fact, that's the more boring part of the state :)

I remember visiting Mammoth Cave NP with my parents when I was about 10 and thinking to was spectacular. Maybe I should look into a Kentucky a little bit more. Thanks
Beautiful river! Love the shot of the two cairns.

but cairns on a river, let me at them.............
@Opi No not this time! Best pizza around. And with all the rain here lately, there hasn't been a line out the door every day...damn now I'm hungry.
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@Opi No not this time! Best pizza around. And with all the rain here lately, there hasn't been a line out the door every day...damn now I'm hungry.

We spent the night at Natural Bridge SP on our way to Virginia. That's beautiful piece of country through there. And the pizza is awesome! Went there for breakfast too and that was really tasty. Didn't realize it was a big rock climbing area. A lot of ripped people hanging out. Neat place to check out.
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