9 Best Things to Do in Natural Bridge State Resort Park (+Map)

While visiting our extended family in Kentucky during the summer of 2022, we had the opportunity to visit Natural Bridge State Resort Park, one of Kentucky’s four state parks. This nature preserve offers access to various tourist attractions and the nearby Red River Gorge.

While we mainly wanted to see the sandstone arches formed by nature itself, we couldn’t help but pursue other outdoor adventures such as hiking, zip lining, riding the skylift, and a whole lot more!

With free entrance to the park, several attractions within the area and park kept us entertained when we weren’t hiking. With such a pleasant atmosphere, we quickly discovered why this Kentucky preserve attracted so many tourists and hoped to encounter the same experience!

Visit Creation Falls

Creation Falls

Once arriving, we decided to hike through Rock Bridge Trail, a 1.4-mile trail that takes you directly to Creation Falls. Once we reached the falls, we had a chance to cool off in the waterfall, which felt refreshing since some locations prohibit swimming.

A small creek ran through most of the trail, which made it a soothing experience to hear the trickling water throughout our hike.

Pro Tip: I recommend packing snacks or lunch as there’s a small location perfect for a picnic. You can also enter other hiking trails from this location.

Hike to the Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge

Since our first hike was relatively easy regarding skill level, we decided to make our way to the Natural Bridge, one of the main attractions of the state park. As a massive landmark, the sandstone arch is 78 feet wide and 65 feet tall.

To reach the top, you can hike through the different trails (which we preferred for the scenic views) or take the skylift, which we decided to take later during the day.

The best trails to reach the Natural Bridge are the Balanced Rock Trail, Battleship Rock Trail, and the Laurel Ridge Trail.

Ride the Sky Lift

Sky Lift

After finishing up at the Natural Bridge, we decided to take the Low Gap Trail to the skylift, as this was the shortest route. The trail began at the parking area, ascended through a natural gap in the limestone and connected to Rock Garden Trail.

The skylift was the perfect break we needed from hiking, and once we reached the top, we could take scenic views of the Red River Gorge area.

Go Rock Climbing

Rock Climbing

In Muir Valley, we found a climbing preserve over 350 acres in the Red River Gorge. The valley had over 30 various climbing walls and was free to climb, which was a bonus during our trip. The only fee we ended up paying was the $15 parking fee, which went towards maintenance costs for the area.

I let my husband pick the rock climbing route called Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’, so I immediately expected the climb to be a strenuous one. This climb required bouldering moves, which made it harder to get over the bulge. We’re both intermediate climbers, but I wouldn’t have minded a more leisurely route, considering the long hikes prior.

Eat Kentucky Barbecue

Kentucky Barbecue

From hiking to rock climbing, the physical outdoor activities were just enough to make us work up an appetite. While searching for a local spot to dine, we came across Thatcher Barbecue Company, where I indulged in some of the most delicious Kentucky barbecue I’ve ever tasted. My husband ordered the brisket with Mac-n cheese, which was equally tasty.

Pro Tip: If you’re not a huge barbecue fan, we also passed by the Red River Rockhouse, which had various foods such as burgers, burritos, and tacos.

Take a Zipline Tour

Red River Gorge in Kentucky

At the time, neither of us had ever experienced Ziplining, and it was something that we’d been wanting to check off our bucket list for a very long time. During our visit, we came across the Red River Gorge Zipline Tours, which offered ziplining, reaching speeds of up to 55 mph! The zipline tour was approximately 1-2 hours and cost $99 per adult.

Our ride included a five-line course with a 1,900-foot zipline, where afterward, we were able to race each other on a side-by-side line. Since it was our first time, I loved that professional guides were with us for the tour to make us more comfortable and at ease.

Visit the Reptile Zoo

Reptile Zoo

My only disappointment during our trip was that while hiking and our time outdoors, I didn’t see much wildlife, which I would have enjoyed. However, we were surprised to find a reptile zoo nearby, which was just enough to scratch our wildlife itch. The zoo is home to dozens of reptiles and snakes.

While walking through the reptile zoo, we saw one of the largest collections of venomous snakes, one of them being a milk snake! Even though I’m terrified of snakes, it was nice to learn about the venom extraction process from one of their zoo instructors.

Pro Tip: If you want to view one of their extraction shows, call ahead to confirm days and times to ensure they still have one scheduled.

Visit the Nature Center

Nature Center

While visiting the Natural Bridge State Resort Park, we knew our activities wouldn’t be limited to only the outdoors, so we wanted to find an additional activity to cool off indoors.

Within the park, we found the Historic Nature Center, where we learned about the ecological wonders that made this location unique. We enjoyed informative displays, interactive exhibits, and learning about the geological components that helped create the Natural Bridge.

Go Line Dancing

Line Dancing

While we checked many boxes on our to-do list throughout our visit, we were pleasantly surprised that the park hosts a Natural Bridge hoedown every Saturday at 6:30 pm. According to locals, the hoedown has been a popular tradition for 45 years and runs from May to October.

On our final night, we danced the night away doing square dances, polkas, and line dancing with many locals.

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