Red River Gorge – Slade, KY: A Different Look

Slade, Kentucky Welcome Sign

Ofttimes when we visit a place, we have a destination in mind.  The Red River Gorge area of Kentucky is one of those places.  Visitors typically are focused on visiting beautiful and expansive views of the gorge, hiking some of the well known trails, taking a hike up to the Natural Bridge or something else.

This past weekend (August 31, 2019) I took my wife to the area fora hiking meetup.  This left me with a three hour window to do other things.  I am not able to hike some of these trails right now because my knee has been causing problems.

Red River Gorge
Red River Gorge Scenic Byway

So, after dropping my wife off, I headed back to Slade to do my “offbeat travel”  thing and find some of the unique and quirky of the area.  I had no problems with that, because inevitably, where there are lots of tourists, there are also the quirky and offbeat to draw them in.

Many dangerous cliffs in Red River Gorge, but a climbing heaven for rock climbers.

As the Welcome Sign above indicates, Slade is the “Adventure Capital of Kentucky.”  And it is true.  A drive around the area in the summer months will prove it as one can see license plates from all over the United States and Canada.   According to one website (GEARHUNGRY), the Red River Gorge is the second best, just behind Yosemite for rock climbing.  They call it a “must-do list contender for the serious climber.”   The site notes that there are over 1600 potential climbs in the area.  And Slade caters to these visitors big time.

Slade Welcome Center just off of Exit 33 on the Bert T Combs Mountain Highway
Miguels Pizza in Slade

A drive down Kentucky 11 (also called Natural Bridge Rd.) from the Slade Visitor’s Center will take you past the REALLY World Famous Miguels Pizza and its neighboring Miguels Rock Climbing Shop, both of which cater to climbers big time.

Founded by Miguel Ventura, who was from Portugal, the place has become a go to for climbers and hikers since 1984 (the name was changed to Miguels in 1986).   As the Ventura family continued to befriend climbers, they expanded and opened a campground and soon the place got the nickname “The Camp Four of the East” by climbers. (The Original Camp 4 is a climber’s campground in Yosemite National Park).  For over thirty years the Ventura family has made a name for itself all over the world as a result.  Then, in 2016 in the field behind the Pizza Shop, the Rock Climbing Shop was opened and now is a full-service climbing shop as well as the check-in spot for the campground.

Climbers and hikers from all over the world set up tents in Miguels expansive campground
Miguels Pizza in Slade, Kentucky
The Sign on Highway 11 for Miguels Climb Shop
The artsy Miguels Pizza front door has been opened with hands of people from all over the world

Rock climbing is not the only drawing card of the area.  Another big hitter are the more than 30 big hiking trails in the area.  It includes the 282 mile long Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail which begins in northern Kentucky on KY377 and travels south nearly 290 miles to its terminus at Pickett State Park in Tennessee.  The trail meanders through the Daniel Boone National Forest and also gets its name from the Shawnee name given to Daniel Boone by Chief Blackfish.

Star Gap Arch on Auxier Ridge Trail (#204) in Red River Gorge (Photo by Julianne Kravetz)

But Sheltowee is not the only trail.  There are many other trails from easy to very difficult. Most of the trails are numbered (all are in the 200s) and there are plenty of maps in the area.  Many of the trails offer spectacular views, many arches and lots of scary cliffs!

Cliffs as seen along the Auxier Ridge Trail (Photo by Julianne Kravetz)
Fall Colors over the Red River Gorge in Kentucky
Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Slade, KY
Natural Bridge Skylift

Drive down KY11 a little further and you get to Natural Bridge State Resort Park, home of a large geologic formation called Natural Bridge, which is 65 feet high and 78 foot long.  It is one of the few large arches in the Eastern United States.   The hike is about 2.5 miles long, but those that prefer a more casual adventure can take the Natural Bridge Skylift up to the scenic arch.

I had fun driving through the park and catching some of the unique.  For instance, where can you go to find a unique speed limit, like 23 MPH?  Then there are the other things…

Speed Limit 23 in Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Low Gap Trail leads up to the Natural Bridge Arch
Watch out for Bears!
One Lane Tunnel

Take the opposite direction from Slade on Kentucky 15 northwest to Kentucky 77 which leads to the Nada Tunnel (pronounced nay-duh by the locals), a 900-foot long tunnel which is considered as the “Gateway to the Red River Gorge.”  This unique single-lane rough hewn tunnel was originally built in 1911 for the Dana Lumber Company.  It was named for the small town of Nada, which was a logging town at the time.  Its original use was for a railcars, but has since been paved and is used by thousands of visitors every year as they traverse into the geologic wonderland of the Red River Gorge.

Entrance to Nada Tunnel
A lit up view of the interior of the otherwise very dark Nada Tunnel
Exiting the Nada Tunnel
Wild Things of Kentucky

For me, much of the fun is discovering the “other stuff” that can be seen on the road.  Probably the most interesting “touristy stop” along the way was the Wild Things of Kentucky tourist stop where they advertise their Kentucky Snake Pit, the Kentucky Aquarium, an hilarious restroom and other things.  Sadly for them, they literally JUST missed out on being included in my most recent book about unique and quirky tourist destinations. (Have you seen my new book?  If not, check it out HERE!)

Wild Things of Kentucky -another unique tourist stop
Feed the Goats that reside on the roof

Places like this always try to find things that become a drawing card for tourists.  Indeed, they have some unique finds in the shop.  And, for a small fee you can visit the “Snakes and turtles and fish…Oh My,” as their pamphlet advertises.  Over on the other side of the building you can feed live goats that reside on the roof of the building.  You can get a selfie with their “Sitty Hall” outhouse or with their own version of “Bigfoot.”

Selfie with Sitty Hall
Feed a Goat
Too funny/weird – The Snake Pit
The “Aquarium” includes a couple of turtles
Can’t be a trading post without the Indian
Inside the store
Entrance Fee for Wildlife Exhibit
Better not use the porch! Go use Sitty Hall.
They have goats…why not Goats Milk Products too
Lots of fun shirts and stuff… much of it Red River Gorge themed
Yes, they do have a resident Bigfoot.. He wants you to choose happy

And back to the road…a few more fun scenes from the Slade area roads

Big Arrow
Need Wood?
Go through the tunnel to get to The Depot
A bearable bear
There are folks that set up on an empty corner with lots of interesting stuff
Take the forest roads to the trails and there are forest service restrooms. Some of the signs are funny
And then there was this…

ENJOYING WHAT YOU SEE?  TRY MY BOOKS.

Now have three books out. Check them out!

You can check my books out on Amazon for more fun reads about my quirky back roads travels.  Get them out on my Amazon page https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B0784XVGSW

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A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The P Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Peculiar, Missouri

Welcome to Peculiar, MO
A Peculiar Police Car
A Peculiar Elementary School

Possum Trot Supper Club – Oakwood, Illinois

Possum Trot Supper Club, Oakwood, IL

Pierre Part, Louisiana

Sumoflam in Pierre Part, LA
Visiting Troy Landry of Swamp People fame in Pierre Part, LA in 2014
Swamp People Truck at Duffy’s Bait Shop in Pierre Part

Pound Gap, Virginia

Pound Gap Historical Sign on the Virginia/Kentucky Border

Prairie Dogs – Browning, Montana; Cactus Flat, South Dakota

A prairie dog scampers near the Camp Disappointment Monument in Montana
Prairie Dog — standing watch in Cactus Flat
Prairie Dog – Cactus Flat, SD

Pal’s Sudden Service – Bristol, Tennessee

After eating Pal’s food make sure to Exercise Daily. Couldn’t help but chuckle
Pal’s Sudden Service in Bristol, TN

Perryville Battlefield – Perryville, Kentucky

Perryville Battlefield – Perryville, KY
Perryville Battlefield ReEnactment
Welcome to Perryville

Pink Elephants Everywhere! – DeForest, Wisconsin; Haubstadt, Indiana; Barboursville, West Virginia; Russellville, Kentucky

Pink Elephant in DeForest, WI
Martini bearing pink and white elephant pair at Hipp Nursery in Haubstadt, IN
This pink elephant is in the Huntington, WV suburb of Barboursville on US 60
Big pink elephant in Russellville, KY, just around the corner from the big cow with pink sunglasses
Need a Pink Elephant T-Shirt? I know where you can get one!

And then there is the Pink Elephant Car Wash – Seattle, Washington

Pink Elephant Car Wash in Seattle, Washington

Poutine – A Canadian Favorite – Paris, Ontario

Poutine – Fries, Brown Gravy and Cheese Curds -Pure yummiferousness
Chomping on poutine in Paris in 2008

Portsmouth Murals – Portsmouth, Ohio

Chillicothe Street 1940s by Robert Dafford in Portsmouth, OH

Portland Head Light – Portland, Maine

Portland Head Light
Visiting the beautiful lighthouse on the rocky shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Portland, Maine in 2015

Just down the road from Hell – Pinckney, Michigan

Howell Rd. to Hell – Pinckney, MI

Planet Damon Water Tower – Damon, Texas

There is Planet Hollywood and then there is Planet Damon…

Presti’s Bakery – Little Italy – Cleveland, Ohio

Prestis Bakery….the best cannoli in the world!! And some other good Italian goodies
Italian Yumminess in the case at Presti’s

Prosperity, Pennsylvania

Prosperity Post Office in Pennsylvania
Heading to Prosperity

Pain Reliever Bar – Nekoma, North Dakota

Pain Reliever Bar, Nekoma, ND
International Pain Reliever Bar in Nekoma, ND (notice they used a New Mexico flag??)

PRHBTN Murals (there are more than 20 – here are a couple) – Lexington, Kentucky

Sumoflam at MrDHEO’s wall painting in Lexington, one of a few new PRHBTN murals
The enormous “I Am MO” mural in the Lexington Distillery District
Louis Armstrong Mural by Sergio Odeith from Portugal, for PRHBTN 2015

Papa Joe’s – Crescent Junction, Utah

Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction, UT
Sumoflam at Papa Joe’s in Crescent Junction
The Scooby Doo Mystery Machine at Papa Joe’s

P’Maws Bait Shack – Pierre Part, Louisiana

P’MAWS Bait Shack in Pierre Part, LA (Notice it is SWAMP spelled backwards)
Cuddling with a White Gator at P’MAWS in Pierre Part, LA
P’MAWS is open 24/7

Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pat’s King of Steaks – Philadelphia, PA
Grilling up the steaks at Pat’s
Best of Philly – Pat’s King of Steaks

Puget Sound – Seattle, Washington

Seattle as seen from a boat in the Puget Sound
On the Ferry in Puget Sound

Perry Como Statues – Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

Singing Perry Como statue in downtown Canonsburg, PA
Perry Como Statue in the Canonsburg McDonald’s

Fun Stuff in Portland, Oregon

Hung Far Low – Famous Chop Suey and Famous name – Portland, Oregon
Voodoo Doughnut – Portland, Oregon

Pheasant Bar – Winner, South Dakota

Pheasant Bar, Winner, SD

Petrified Forest National Park – Holbrook, Arizona

Sumoflam and tourists at Petrified Forest in 1983

Pinto McBean – Bow Island, Alberta, Canada

Pinto McBean statue in Bow Island, Alberta

A few Paul Bunyan guys here and there – Bemidji, Minnesota; Nitro, West Virginia; Minocqua, Wisconsin; Wentzville, Missouri

Paul Bunyan and Babe in Bemidji, MN
a Big Paul Bunyan in Minocqua, Wisconsin
Big Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox in Nitro, WV
Paul Bunyan Muffler Man just off of the interstate in Wentzville, MO

Price Less Foods – Irvine, Kentucky

Price Less Foods in Irvine, KY

Popeye Statue – Alma, Arkansas

At the Popeye Statue in Alma, AR in 2009

Port Gibson First Presbyterian Church – Port Gibson, Mississippi

Unique Steeple of the First Presbyterian Church in Port Gibson, MS

Powder River, Wyoming

Powder River, Wyoming
An old neon relic of the past, the Tumble Inn Lounge/Cafe, with a vintage neon look in Powder River, WY

Paradise Point – Scottsville, Kentucky

Paradise Point – Scottsville, KY
From one hot dog to another…

Scenes from Paris – or four or five of them – Paris, Ontario; Paris, Kentucky; Paris, Texas; Paris, Tennessee

Paris, Ontario
Homes and businesses along the river in Paris, Ontario
Welcome to Paris, Kentucky
Paris, Texas
Welcome to Paris Catfish – they too claim to be the Catfish Capital

Point Defiance Zoo – Tacoma, Washington

Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA
A tiger at the Point Defiance Zoo
A Blue Budgie at the Point Defiance Zoo

Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas

Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, Kansas
Giant Ice Cream Cone at Paul’s Hamburgers – Kansas City, KS

Peaks to Craters Scenic Highway – Idaho

Peaks to Craters scenic byway through the mountains of central Idaho
Grandview Canyon on US 93 – northern section of the Peaks to Craters Scenic Byway

Pelicans – Lake Andes, South Dakota; Galveston, Texas; Lexington, Kentucky

White Pelicans at Lake Andes in South Dakota
Pelicans in formation over the Gulf of Mexico in Galveston, TX
A rare sighting of a White Pelican flying over Lexington in late April 2018

Plaza Theatres – Glasgow, Kentucky & Wharton, Texas

Plaza Theatre – Glasgow, Kentucky
Old Plaza Theater in Wharton, TX

Playhouse Square – Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland’s Playhouse Square
Cleveland’s Playhouse Square Giant Chandelier

Pea Meal Breakfast Anyone? – Woodstock, Ontario

Peameal Breakfast – Woodstock, Ontario
Pea Meal Breakfast

PPG Glass Castle – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Artistic view of One PPG Place
A view from below One PPG Place

Professor Market – Tremont District – Cleveland, Ohio

Professor Market wall advertisement…located in the Tremont District of Cleveland

Pochahontas, Illinois

Pochahontas, IL – “Pokey” – Home of Country Singer Gretchen Wilson (Gimme a Hell Ya!)

Plaquemine, Louisiana

Welcome to Plaquemine, LA

Pike Place Market – Seattle, Washington

Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market – what a place!
Pike Place Market was packed

Penn’s Store – Gravel Switch, Kentucky

Penn’s Store Sign
Penn’s Store – Gravel Switch, KY

Pella, Iowa

Welcome to Pella
Vermeer Dutch Windmill in Pella, IA – the largest working windmill in the United States
Building fronts in Pella, IA

Penguins – Omaha, Nebraska; Tacoma, Washington

Penguins at Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha
The small penguins stand majestically at feeding time at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma, WA

Pheasants on the Prairie – Enchanted Highway – Regent, North Dakota

Enchanted Highway Stop #5 – Pheasants on the Prairie
Sumoflam at Pheasants on the Prairie

Pickle’s Place – Arco, Idaho

EAT sign at Pickle’s Place in Arco, ID
Pickle’s Place – Home of the “Atomic Burger”

Pete the Curler – Bemidji, Minnesota

Pete the Curler by Dale Lewis – one of 25 pieces in the 2014 Bemidji Sculpture Walk

Pork Chop Sandwiches (as seen on Andy Griffith) – Mt. Airy, North Carolina

Snappy Lunch – home of the Pork Chop Sandwich
Cooking up the pork chops at Snappy Lunch

Old Prairie School House – Frisno, Montana

Old Prairie School House on Smith-Frisno Road west of Havre, MT. I wanted this one in black and white…

Giant Prairie Dog Statue – Cactus Flat, South Dakota

Giant Prairie Dog
Sumoflam with the Giant Prairie Dog – Cactus Flat

Pelo’s Sundries – LeClaire, Iowa

Old neon for Pelo’s Sundries

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

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A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The O Things #AtoZChallenge

In 2018 I  will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada.  I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.

 

Only, Tennessee

This way to Only, TN
The one and only Only Baptist Church

Oak Creek Canyon – Sedona, Arizona

Sumoflam at the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook in 1982
A Century plant in bloom with the scenic Red Rock country of Sedona below. This was taken at the top of Schnebly Hill Road in 1983

Ostriches  – Fossil Rim Wildlife Center – Glen Rose, Texas

Angry Ostrich at Fossil Rim

Otterville Falls – Otterville, Ontario

Otterville Falls in Otterville, Ontario, Canada

Owl Heads Grocery – South Irvine, Kentucky

Owl Heads Grocery in South Irvine. Love the sign!

Oculus – Council Bluffs, Iowa

Oculus by Broward Hatcher, at Bayliss Park in Council Bluffs

Family Home For 4 Years – Oita, Japan

Making a New Year’s TV Show in Oita
The village of Usuki, also in Oita, is home of a famous Buddha statue. It is also the original landing place of the Dutch when they first arrived in Japan in the 1600s.

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean as seen from Old Orchard Beach, ME
Catching the sunrise with grandchildren Jos and Rockwell at Old Orchard Beach

Odd, West Virginia

Odd, West Virginia Post Office
Odd School Road takes you into the town of Odd, WV

Orca Art – Seattle, Washington & Port Orchard, Washington

Orca Wall Art in Seattle
Undersea World mural in Port Orchard
A nice Orca Sculpture across the street from the Seattle Aquarium

Dignity: Of Earth & Sky: Oacoma/Chamberlain, South Dakota

Dignity is a stainless steel, 50-foot-tall statue was specifically designed by sculptor Dale Lamphere to honor the cultures of the Lakota and Dakota people.
Sumoflam at the base of the amazing statue called Dignity which overlooks the towns of Chamberlain and Oacoma in South Dakota.

Omaha, Nebraska

Pioneer brotherhood – Pioneer Memorial, Omaha, Nebraska
Giant Wall Mural in Little Mexico district of Omaha
Old Zesto Neon near the Omaha Zoo

Over-the-Rhine District – Cincinnati, Ohio

Historic buildings in the Over-the-Rhine district

Orin, Wyoming

US 20 east out of Orin, Wyoming

Orange Moose Bar & Grill – Black River Falls, Wisconsin

Orange Moose in Black River Falls, WI

Olympia, Washington

Washington State Capital Building – Olympia, Washington
A wonderful Super Hero Mural located in Downtown Olympia, Washington
An Octopus mural, one of many wall murals in Olympia

Oldest Lake in America – Clear Lake, California

A view across Clear Lake, one of the oldest freshwater lakes in North America

Once in a Millennium Moon – America’s tallest wall mural – Shreveport, Louisiana

Tallest wall mural in US “Once in a Millennium Moon” is 14 stories tall…in Shreveport, LA

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg

Okay, Oklahoma

Sumoflam – An Okay Parent
This is an Okay Police Department
This church caters to Okay followers

Our Lady of the Rockies – Butte, Montana

Our Lady of the Rockies, Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies info sign at Butte Overlook

Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Kansas City, Kansas & Kansas City, Missouri

Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ in a gas station – Kansas City, KS
The waiting line at Oklahoma Joe’s
Stopped in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe’s in KC, MO

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath – Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Sumoflam at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the Ohio and Erie Towpath Bike Trailhead

Oddville, Kentucky

Oddville, Kentucky
Oddville United Methodist Church, Oddville, KY

Oil Springs, Ontario

Oil Springs, Ontario – The location of the First Commercial Oil Well in North America
Scrap Metal Art in Oil Springs, Ontario
Oil Springs Scrap Metal Art

Off the Beaten Path Ice Cream – Damascus, Virginia

Off the Beaten Path Ice Cream in Damascus, VA
Ice Cream Chart in Off the Beaten Path… LOL

Annual Oshawa Rib Fest – Oshawa, Ontario

Davor Zuder and some smokin’ ribs at Oshawa Rib Fest in Ontario in 2008
BBQ Pitmaster Oliver Zuder showing off his trophy at the Oshawa Ribfest in 2008 in Ontario

Ocean City, Maryland

Old Paradise Cafe sign in Ocean City. What is a beach resort town without a flamingo or two?
Christmas sunrise near Ocean City, Maryland with a dolphin swimming by
Ocean City, MD in December 2016

Olympic National Park – Washington

Mount Olympus and Olympic National Park as seen from Hwy 104

Onalaska, Wisconsin

I-90 Near Onalaska, Wisconsin

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse – Paxton, Nebraska

Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse – Paxton, Nebraska
Big Moose at Ole’s (and one with antlers too)

Ohio Valley Steelworkers Statue – Steubenville, Ohio

Ohio Valley Steelworker by Dmitri Akis

Opal, Wyoming

Pioneer Monument – Opal, WY
Old Mercantile Building, Opal, WY

Ore Dock Mural – Ashland, Wisconsin

The Ashland Oredock Mural in Ashland, WI

If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon.  My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.

Books 1 & 2

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