Instead of cooking at home as I usually do, my family decided, for the first time ever, to get away for the Thanksgiving weekend, spending the holiday hiking, cooking and enjoying the outdoors. To comply with Covid-19 safety guidelines, we searched for an area we could explore, choosing activities that don’t involve crowds and lodging that allows for cooking, accommodates four and offers the appropriate social distancing.
With all this in mind we chose the Red River Gorge area in Kentucky, which is just over a 2-hour drive from our home, avoiding airports, crowds and the indoors in general. The weather this time of year typically ranges in the 50s or so, which is perfect for strenuous hiking and for cooking in a cabin!
Here’s how we planned our Thanksgiving weekend at Red River Gorge, Kentucky while still adhering to Covid-19 safety guidelines.
Red River Gorge
Part of the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Red River Gorge is a huge canyon system on the Red River in Kentucky. An area of about 29,000 acres, it has been designated a national landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There are a variety of hiking trails in the Red River Gorge area, so there’s plenty to explore over a few days. You’ll find sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, waterfalls and the beautiful natural bridge. It’s one of the world’s top rock climbing destinations as well. If you’re exploring, chances are you’ll find some rock climbers on your way. And the occasional rock sitter too.
Adjacent to the Red River Gorge area is the park’s famous Natural Bridge. Visitors can take a variety of trails to access the bridge, some very challenging and some easy, depending on your preference. Those not wishing to hike can also choose the sky lift at Natural Bridge when in season. The sky lift was closed while we were there, but it was just as well, as we enjoyed our hike up balance rock trail, with the trailhead located just behind The Lodge. Balance Rock trail is a short .75 miles, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a steep incline with what seemed like hundreds of stairs. But we made it to the top and the payoff was worth it. Plus the strenuous exercise made us all look forward to our turkey dinner at the cabin that evening! On the way down we took a .5 mile trail that also leads from behind the lodge. It was much easier and less of an incline. Both are accessible from a paved area right behind the parking lot of The Lodge.
Bardstown, KY and the Bourbon Trail
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this area’s proximity to Bardstown and the famous Kentucky Bourbon Trail. While typically a fantastic way to spend the day, due to Covid-19 many of the distilleries are closed or offering very limited service. We managed to see a couple of them and based on past experience I highly recommend a visit to this area, but the experience is not as good during Covid.
Where We Stayed in Red River Gorge
To keep ourselves safe and distanced, we chose the adorable and remote Airbnb at See Rocks Log Cabin. The cabin was a tiny house, newly built and very comfortable for the four of us. Tom, our host, was helpful and communicative, and even left us a Thanksgiving card when we arrived. The cabin is located in a secluded area, but still just off the main roads and easily accessible. We were very happy with it!
Included in our cabin were:
- Full kitchen
- Full bathroom
- Master bedroom
- Loft area with two double beds
- Seating area
- Two decks
- Fire pit
The cabin did have WiFi, but don’t expect good service out in these remote areas. Instead we enjoyed the fire pit and each other, which is what a weekend getaway is all about!
If You Go to Red River Gorge
With a little advanced planning and creativity it’s still possible to enjoy a bit of travel and maintain proper social distancing and safety protocols. We managed to have a great weekend in the Red River Gorge area, despite the challenges.
To see photos of our cabin in the woods and of Red River Gorge and Rock Bridge, visit my Google Photo Album here.