Cave Kayaking in Kentucky: Gorge Underground

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About an hour east of Lexington Kentucky is the Red River Gorge area, where a limestone mine from the 1890’s was forgotten for 30 years. After flooding, the cave became abandoned, but now you have a chance to see it! With The Gorge Underground, you get the choice of a paddle board, kayak, or tour boat for your 1.5 mile expedition of this hidden mine. For us, we chose cave kayaking Red River Gorge. 

Are there caves at Red River Gorge?

Yes, there are caves in Red River Gorge, and you can even go kayaking throughout them.

Can you kayak at Red River Gorge?

Cave Kayaking Red River Gorge

Thrillsville information center kentucky

This exploration spot is a part of the Red River Gorge in Slade, Kentucky. The attraction is part of the Thrillsville tourist spot, which is where you can check in, and sign your paperwork before heading off the kayak.

Family selfie outside cave in Kentucky

Entrance to the cave is a couple miles down the road, therefore you drive yourself. Thrillsville also has an aerial obstacle course, but sadly it was closed the day we visited the area. 

Our Experience Cave Kayaking Red River Gorge in Kentucky

When arriving at the cave, your guides are there to greet you. Our guides, Josh and Cory, were incredible! They provided an exciting tour filled with all different kinds of stories and facts about the mine’s history, and past explorers that have passed through. Be sure to watch our video, because they even had me sing in the mine, where the acoustics are the best! 

Kayak launching bay in cave

As we reached the inner parts of the mine, the only source of light was from our kayaks and headlights. Josh and Cory had everyone stop, they asked us to be quiet for a moment and turn off our lights. As someone who isn’t fond of the dark, it was oddly peaceful. As the darkness engulfed our surroundings, silence filled the air. All you hear is water dripping from above you, and the air is so still it makes you want to hold your breath.

Red River Gorge Cave History

Teens in kayaks kentucky

The mine was first dug in the 1890’s for its limestone deposit, and was abandoned in 1985. Miners struck a natural spring, which flooded the mine faster than they could pump out, forcing it to be abandoned. 

Even though it was abandoned for so long, you can still see footprints under the water. And even mining equipment as you explore the mine. It feels as if it was frozen in time, even the original light fixtures hang from the ceiling. Although they have been disconnected. You will also see trinkets dropped by other explorers or fun items placed by the workers underwater. 

How deep is the water at Gorge Underground?

Inside caves at Gorge Underground, the maximum depth is about 25 feet. In some areas it’s shallow enough to see bottom with the help of lighting.

Gorge Underground Review and Final Thoughts

Family selfie with kayaking gear on

Furthermore, Gorge Underground provides all the necessary equipment for your adventure. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting wet, because the ceiling tends to drip. Your guides will bring you around larger leaks so you can avoid getting drenched. Although the seats on the kayaks tend to be damp. Also, some sort of waterproof holder would be handy to keep your belongings dry. The mine is around 50 degrees inside, and the water is 40 degrees year round. If you get cold easily, a jacket would be smart to bring. You should expect to be on your tour for about an hour, plus fifteen minutes, due to preparation time.

I would highly recommend this expedition to anyone I meet. You will have a great adventure any day, rain or shine. However, if you go, be sure you are not either afraid of the dark, or confined places. I hope you have an amazing experience. 

You should consider cave Kayaking in Kentucky, while staying in Lexington. You can read more about our 3 day visit on our Things to do in and around Lexington post. In addition to all our tips, don’t underestimate those hotel lobby brochures!

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25 thoughts on “Cave Kayaking in Kentucky: Gorge Underground

  • This was an exciting adventure for sure! We like cave trips and good going 🤗

  • I never heard of cave kayaking, what a cool activity!

  • Good to know that you will get WET and how to dress and prepare, thanks for the info.

  • Beautiful and sounds like a really exciting activity!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Happy to help!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Neither had we, before picking up the brochure!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Surely different than anything we’ve done before!

  • I love kayaking, but I think I might be nervous to do it in a cave!

  • Travel Clans

    looks like lots of fun! I did it once while holidaying in Phuket! those caves were low!!!

  • This looks like something our 17 & 20 year old sons would love to do! I am saving this to Pinterest for future use. Hopefully we can make it to Kentucky in the future.

  • alison netzer

    I just signed us up for this end of July. Great post and got me go.

  • That’s awesome! Kayaking is one of my favorite things to do. Doing it in a cave would definitely be a different and unique experience.

  • I will have to try this next time I am in Kentucky!

  • I think I would be so scared to do this. I’m not one for nature or small spaces but I’d give it a shot!

  • this looks like so much fun! I’ve been caving, but never in a kayak.

  • This sounds awesome. What an adventure – when I was a kid we went through an underground river and saw glow worms! These kinds of experiences never leave you!

  • have never been kentucky, will have to go soon

  • Julie Gazdecki

    I LOVE Kentucky!! The rolling green hills are so beautiful!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Time to try something new!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    You may surprise yourself!! I was a little nervous myself.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    I was a little nervous too.

  • Julie Gazdecki

    If it was too low, I would be pretty freaked out!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Yes, they would totally love this!!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    Awesome!! I can’t wait to see!!

  • Julie Gazdecki

    We’ve had so much fun, I’m thinking about buying our own!

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