Saturday, March 10, 2012

Natural Bridge State Park

View from atop the Natural Bridge
Location:  Slade, KY, eastern region (east of I-75).

Natural Bridge is one of the areas in Kentucky that make people stop and say, "Wow!  This is Kentucky?"  Although the state is beautiful anyway, Kentucky is typically thought of as rolling hills with horses nibbling at the ground, surrounded by expensive white fences.  That's still a very pretty picture, but the Red River Gorge and Daniel Boone National Forest area of the state, which is about forty-five minutes east of Lexington, boasts some of the most breathtaking images in this part of the country.

Me looking out at one of the overlooks while hiking.
There are two campgrounds at this state park.  Whittleton, which I felt was more tent friendly and Middle Fork Campground.  We camped in our pop-up at the Middle Fork Campground in late October, which seemed much more accommodating for RVs but some nice tent sites were available here as well.  There's a creek that rushes right through the campground. 

The check-in process went smooth; friendly staff, friendly campers. The firewood we bought turned out to be a little damp and we couldn't enjoy a campfire.  I tried not to be a big baby about that, because it was late fall, a chilly night with a sky full of sparkly stars - perfect for a campfire.  And I really wanted to roast some marshmallows!  

Anyway, it seems there is a different breed of campers here.  This area is quite attractive to rock climbers and other adventurists seeking some downright righteous outdoor activity.  We hiked through the park, up to the Natural Bridge, walked across its amazing expanse, and followed more trails.  The entire process took about three hours.  Be sure to bring a bottle of water and a back pack of snacks.  You'll be burning calories quickly!  If you're not feeling adventurous, there is a ski lift to the top.  Either way you go, don't miss out on the incredible views. 

View looking up at Natural Bridge
Words of CAUTION:  We opted not to take our kids on this camp out.  While walking across the "bridge" please note there are no railings.  Hold onto small children.  If you have a toddler who fusses and doesn't like to be held, then this is not the trip for you.  I can't stress this enough.  It is a sixty-five foot fall for anyone not paying attention.  Also, this is black bear country.  While we hiked and saw no evidence of a bear, they do exist.  Please use caution while hiking (make noise, keep talking, rustle leaves with your feet) and keep food sealed up tight at your campsite.  Don't even think about approaching a bear if you do happen to see one. 

One of the many hiking trails throughout the park.

  • Stunning scenery, great outdoor activities
  • Friendly staff at campground
  • Campsite was clean/maintained. 
  • Hikers and photographers will especially love the park
  • Some sites at campground (including ours) were a little tight getting into for RVs.
  • The bath house was a little small for the amount of people there.  There were people in line while I washed my face at one of the two sinks.  It was awkward. 
  • Lots of crowds, especially on weekends.  Hit hiking trails early. 
Click here for more information or to make a reservation.

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