RED RIVER GORGE, Ky. (LEX 18) — It’s easy to enjoy almost everything about the Daniel Boone National Forest from ground level. But to really understand its history and majesty, you should really venture into the area underneath the forest.
“It’s a very unique experience, not like anywhere else in the world I’ve been. A lot of places you can go into a cave and it’s a small room. This is over five miles of tunnels,” said Gorge Underground General Manager, Heather Warman.
Warman has been with The Gorge Underground kayak tour since its inception back in 2015. It’s a former limestone mine, and millions of years before that, it was an uninhabitable ocean mass. In fact, legend has it the imprint you’ll see on one of the walls is that of a shark’s body. Though a University of Kentucky geologist wasn’t convinced, Heather said he didn’t reject the premise entirely.
“It could’ve died and could’ve potentially gotten so cold the shark stayed there for a while and fossilized around it,” Heather recalled being told by the expert. (She prefers to believe that it’s definitely a shark!)
During the hour-long tour, you’ll see springs spouting from the top of the rock, and up to 150 rainbow trout will be visible from your kayak, many of which come with clear bottoms.
“That’s one of my favorite parts of the tour, seeing how monstrous the fish really are,” said tour guide Drew Hall.
The temperature inside the former mine remains 55 degrees year-round, so it’s a nice way to cool off during the summer months or warm up during the winter. But, during the cold season, you’re likely to have some company along the way.
“In the winter, we have about 150 bats that hibernate in here,” Warman said, before assuring everyone that they don’t mingle with the customers because it’s so calm and quiet down below.
Warman said most of their clientele is from out of state, and the summer season is usually a busy time.
The entrance to the underground facility is off KY-11, just past the Wolfe County line when coming from the Mountain Parkway.
For more information on The Gorge Underground, visit gorgeunderground.com.