Cave Kayaking in Kentucky: Gorge Underground

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 in Kentucky. 

Where We Went Cave Kayaking in Kentucky

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.

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 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.

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. 

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!

42 thoughts on “Cave Kayaking in Kentucky: Gorge Underground

  • June 29, 2020 at 7:48 pm
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    This was an exciting adventure for sure! We like cave trips and good going 🤗

  • June 29, 2020 at 9:28 pm
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    I never heard of cave kayaking, what a cool activity!

    • June 30, 2020 at 7:24 am
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      Neither had we, before picking up the brochure!

  • June 29, 2020 at 10:18 pm
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    Good to know that you will get WET and how to dress and prepare, thanks for the info.

    • June 30, 2020 at 7:24 am
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      Happy to help!

  • June 30, 2020 at 1:11 am
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    Beautiful and sounds like a really exciting activity!

    • June 30, 2020 at 7:25 am
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      Surely different than anything we’ve done before!

  • June 30, 2020 at 9:01 am
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    I love kayaking, but I think I might be nervous to do it in a cave!

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:01 pm
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      I was a little nervous too.

  • July 1, 2020 at 4:53 am
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    looks like lots of fun! I did it once while holidaying in Phuket! those caves were low!!!

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:02 pm
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      If it was too low, I would be pretty freaked out!

  • July 1, 2020 at 9:20 am
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    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.

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:02 pm
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      Yes, they would totally love this!!

  • July 1, 2020 at 9:46 am
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    I just signed us up for this end of July. Great post and got me excited.to go.

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:03 pm
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      Awesome!! I can’t wait to see!!

  • July 1, 2020 at 5:10 pm
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    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.

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:03 pm
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      We’ve had so much fun, I’m thinking about buying our own!

  • July 2, 2020 at 12:44 am
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    I’ve never been cave kayaking before but your post and video make it look like a lot of fun!

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:00 pm
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      It was more fun than I thought it would be! I’m used to scenery!

  • July 2, 2020 at 6:45 am
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    I’ve never been cave kayaking. Sounds like quite an adventure. My boys would be really into this!

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:04 pm
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      A truly different experience!

  • July 2, 2020 at 10:18 pm
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    Have never done Cave Kayaking and this gives me encouragement to try this out at some time of my life

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:05 pm
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      Here’s to new adventures!

  • July 3, 2020 at 8:38 am
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    This place looks adventurous and amazing. I’m sure you had an amazing time. Thank you for sharing your great experience at the Gorge Underground.

    • July 6, 2020 at 8:00 pm
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      Happy to share!

  • July 3, 2020 at 5:05 pm
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    I will have to try this next time I am in Kentucky!

  • July 3, 2020 at 9:03 pm
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    What a cool adventure! I love the idea of exploring the mine this way.

    • July 6, 2020 at 7:59 pm
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      We thought it was pretty cool too!

  • July 4, 2020 at 7:06 am
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    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!

    • July 6, 2020 at 7:59 pm
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      You may surprise yourself!! I was a little nervous myself.

  • July 4, 2020 at 2:19 pm
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    Isn’t it interesting how we learn new things every day?
    I never heard about Cave Kayaking! Thanks for sharing this interesting post.

    • July 6, 2020 at 7:58 pm
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      Right?? Keeps us on our toes!! Love learning something new.

  • July 4, 2020 at 3:03 pm
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    Oh my gosh I didn’t know there were caves in Kentucky! We’ve only passed through twice and once stopped and visited the corvette museum which was awesome! This is definitely on my list now!

    • July 6, 2020 at 7:58 pm
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      Did not know there was a Corvette museum there. But there are plenty of caves. Northern KY also has Mammoth Cave National Park!

  • July 5, 2020 at 1:26 am
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    this looks like so much fun! I’ve been caving, but never in a kayak.

    • July 6, 2020 at 7:57 pm
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      Time to try something new!

  • July 5, 2020 at 10:13 pm
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    I have never gone for kayaking and this is so inspirational for me to try out next time when I get a chance

  • July 6, 2020 at 6:22 am
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    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!

  • July 6, 2020 at 7:26 am
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    have never been kentucky, will have to go soon

    • July 6, 2020 at 7:57 pm
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      I LOVE Kentucky!! The rolling green hills are so beautiful!

  • July 6, 2020 at 6:46 pm
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    This is totally something I would be into! I don’t know if I’ll ever make it to Kentucky though.

    • July 6, 2020 at 7:56 pm
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      There must be some place in Asia to do this!! But I hope you do get to visit the USA!

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