The park is centered on the amazing, 78-ft-long, 65-ft-high, natural stone bridge that formed over millions of years
This park was created as a travel destination by the Lexington & Eastern Railway in 1896, and later turned over to the State of Kentucky as a Kentucky State Park.
The arch is in a hilly, forested area, part of the Daniel Boone National Forest. There are numerous other landmarks in thea area, such as other arches, caves, sinkholes, and unusual rocks. The whole park is near the Red River Gorge area
Flora and fauna
|Natural Bridge State Park|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
Kentucky has a moderate climate, characterized by warm, yet moist conditions. Summers are usually warm, and winters cool. An average 46 in (116 cm) of precipitation falls during the year, with spring being the rainiest season.
The park is accessible from the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway and is approximately 58 miles southeast of Lexington. From exit 33, the park entrance is about 2 miles south on KY 11.
Fees and permits
There are no fees to enter the park.
The Natural Bridge Sky Lift offers a quicker way than hiking to get to the bridge. Passengers ride the lift half a mile to some trails and a great view of the bridge. The Sky Lift is open from the first weekend in April through the last weekend in October. One way or round trip tickets can be purchased.
Within Natural Bridge State Park there are multiple landmarks to to see:
- Natural Bridge - The Natural Bridge is the main attraction of the Natural Bridge State Park. Here people stand upon a rock bridge connecting two ridges.
- Henson Arch - Henson Arch is reached via the Henson Arch trail which is connected to Whittleton Campground. The arch is in a hole underground with a small waterfall spilling into it.
- Devil's Gulch - Devil's Gulch is a stairway made of stone.
- Needle's Eye - Needle's Eye is a stairway made of stone similar to that of Devi's Gulch.
- Balanced Rock - The Balanced Rock is located on the Balanced Rock trail.
- Skylift Overlook - The Skylift Overlook is a scenic view located right next to the terminus of the skylift.
- Lookout Point - Lookout Point is a scenic view where people are able to get a good view of the Natural Bridge.
- Lover's Leap - Lover's Leap is a scenic lookout over a tall rock monolith standing separate of the ridge.
- Hiking The main attraction of the park is the many trails that criss cross the park. These include the following trails, most of which either start or end at the bridge:
- Original Trail-.75 mile-Easiest and most popular
- Balanced Rock Trail-.75 mile
- Battleship Rock Trail-.75 mile
- Rock Garden Trail-1.75 miles-Great for bird and plant lovers, follows ridge, less touristed
- Sand Gap Trail-7.5 miles
- Hood's Branch Trail-3.75 miles
- Henson's Arch Trail-.3 mile-Leads to an arch by a cave entrance, and a descendable sinkhole
- Lakeside Trail-.25 mile
- Laurel Ridge Trail-.75 mile
- Low Gap Trail-.5 mile
- Upper Hood's Branch Trail-.75 mile
- Whittleton Trail-2 miles
The trails close at dark
- Boating Mill Creek Lake is a small lake located in the park, near the Middle Fork Campground. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at the dock from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Hoedown Island Lake is a small lake located near Hemlock Lodge. Pedal boats can be rented at the dock from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- Fishing is allowed at Mill Creek Lake. All persons 16 and older must have a valid Kentucky fishing permit.
- Miniature Golf There is a miniature golf course at the Sky Lift. Open May 1 to October 31.
- Swimming An outdoor pool is located at Hemlock Lodge and is free of charge for the guests of the lodge and cabins. Non guests are charged $4 per adult and $3 per child.
There are two souvenir shops in the park. One is in Hemlock Lodge and the other is at the Sky Lift ticketing office.
- Sandstone Arches Restaurant, ☏ . At the Hemlock Lodge, it serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Hours vary by season.
- Sky Lift, ☏ . There is a snack bar at the Sky Lift. Open from the first weekend of April through the last weekend of October.
- Miguel's Pizza, ☏ . Across from the park entrance. They serve up some very good pizza and the business is a gathering point for rock climbers in the Red River Gorge area. The restaurant is closed December 1 to March 1.
- Subway, ☏ . In Slade, 2 miles to the north of the park at the junction with the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway.
No alcohol is served in the park. Wolfe County, which lies just to the south of the park, is a wet county where alcohol can be purchased.
- Hemlock Lodge, ☏ . In the park, it has thirty five rooms available. The lodge has a restaurant and an outdoor pool. The park has ten cabins that can be rented. The cabins are available in one and two bedroom configurations. Lodge rooms and cabins can be reserved through the park website up to one year in advance and are available year round.
- Lil' Abner Motel, ☏ . 1 mile from the park. Rooms and cottages are available for reservation.
- Private Cabins. There are many private cabins for rent in the Red River Gorge area
- Natural Bridge State Resort Park, ☏ . The park has two campgrounds with a combination of primitive, water, and electric sites available. Whittleton Campground contains 40 campsites and Middle Fork Campground contains 46 sites. Both campgrounds have comfort stations with showers and flush toilets. Ice, firewood, and wifi access are available for purchase at the attendants stations. The campgrounds are closed November 15 to March 15. Reservations can be made through the park website up to one year in advance and there is a two night minimum stay required for weekends and holidays.
- Koomer Ridge Campground (Seven miles from Natural Bridge State Resort Park). A campground run by the U.S. Forest Service within the Red River Gorge Geological Area. There are 54 tent sites and 19 RV/Trailer sites. No electric or water hookups are available, but all sites have easy access to water hydrants. There are shower houses with flush toilets as well as pit toilets in the campground. Koomer Ridge is open year round, but divided into two seasons. The summer season runs from April 13 through October 22. During this time all sites and facilities are open. Tent sites cost $18 and RV/trailer sites cost $26. From October 23 through April 12, only the tent sites are available at $8 per site. The shower houses are closed during this period. Extra vehicles cost $8 year round. No reservations are accepted. All sites are first come, first serve. There are food storage restrictions in effect due to bear activity in the Red River Gorge and they are actively enforced by the forest rangers.
There is no overnight camping allowed in the back country. The park is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest and several forest service trails connect to the park's trail system.
Many people fall off of cliffs each year, (around 40), which leads to a few deaths. Stay clear of open cliffs! Stay on marked trails. Rhododendron and Mountain Laurel grow very thick in the Red River Gorge and up to the cliff edges. Bushwhacking is prohibited in the park and dangerous in the gorge, as you can easily pop out of thick undergrowth into open air. During the winter, the Natural Bridge and parts of the trails may be icy.