Red River Gorge Canoeing

September 11, 2013
Red River flower weekend
Has something for every level. The Red River Gorge is found near Slade Kentucky close to the Natural Bridge Kentucky and in the Daniel Boone National Forest.
If you have never tried this sport before, but think you would like to have a go, then there is a section of the Red River which is right for you.

On the other hand if you like your water to give you a challenge and an adrenaline rush then the upper reaches of the Red River Gorge is where you will want to be.

The Red River Gorge near Slade Kentucky can be classified into two sections. The upper gorge is an awe inspiring place that can take your breath away.

The other section is nearly all flat water with an occasional exciting part. The lower reaches are ideal for novice paddlers or a family wanting to enjoy an adventure through some stunning scenery. Whatever section of the Red River Gorge you choose to ride, you will have a lot of fun.

The best time to go Red River Gorge canoeing on the upper reaches, is generally in the winter months - December through to April.
The Red is a natural river with no dam controls and therefore no controlled releases of water to ride.

Some periods of the year the water levels can be too low, but after a week or so of rain, conditions will be ideal.


If you are going to ride the upper gorge during the winter you should protect against the cold by wearing a wetsuit.
Be aware that this part of the gorge is in a remote area. If you have any problems, then help will be a long time getting to you.

Never paddle this stretch alone and always let someone know your plans. It is also preferable to let the Forest Service Rangers (Stanton KY District) know what you are doing.
Wear all the right gear and carry a first aid kit and a good map. Prepare to be on the river for anything from three to five hours.

The best place to "put-in" is to go through the town of Campton on Route 746. Pass the Spraddlin Bridge and look for a sign on your right for "Big Branch Put-In."

The Forest Service have created a nice area right on the river for all the boaters. The best place to "take-out" is at the first Concrete Bridge virtually on the Wolfe county line with neighbouring Menifee.

The upper Red River Gorge is one of the more extreme runs in the whole of Kentucky and probably the eastern United States.

It is not a place to learn or to take an inexperienced friend. Also be certain that your own level of ability is right for it. Remember, attempting the upper gorge run during high waters can be life threatening.

Having said that, the sheer beauty and excitement of completing this run will more than make up for the long shuttle between "put-in" and "take-out" and braving the icy water in winter.

Have fun - but stay safe.

So what about everyone else who may not be experienced paddlers but still want to try Red River Gorge canoeing?
The lower section is downstream from the same Concrete Bridge on the Wolfe - Menifee county line.
The paddling is not difficult but the scenery is amazing.

This section is usually best in Spring and early Summer when water levels are reasonably high. The river is generally pretty tranquil but your journey won`t be dull. There are some class one rapids which are just right for beginners.

There are companies in the Red River Gorge near Slade Kentucky where you can hire canoes, kayaks and all the gear you will need.
They will also shuttle you to the river and collect you from your "take-out" point. They can also advise you on the best routes for your level of ability, the sights to look out for, great places to picnic and even the best swimming holes.

A company called Red River Adventure boast that they are the only canoe, kayak and cabin rental operator directly in the Red River Gorge.

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