The Red River Gorge Geological Area in eastern Kentucky features numerous sandstone natural bridges, rock shelters, cliffs, and waterfalls.
Red River Gorge’s famed sandstone arches formed over 70 million years ago by erosion. There is evidence that indigenous people lived in the gorge’s numerous rock shelters as early as the Paleoindian period. More recently, it is thought that Daniel Boone is thought to have explored the region, spending the winter of 1769-70 beneath a rock shelter.
The rock shelters, protected from precipitation and rich with nitrates, preserved plant materials and artifacts, such as leather moccasins and woven mats. The shelters at Red River Gorge have yielded some of the earliest evidence of the domestication of plants in the United States. It is unsurprising that there are 664 known prehistoric and historic sites that date from 11,000 years ago to the 20th century.
Red River Gorge features diverse biology, home to several endangered and rare species such as the Canada lily, Canadian yew, elderberry, Lucy Braun’s white snakeroot, mountain maple, purple-fringed orchid, and white-haired goldenrod. There are also 100 species of birds, including 18 species of warblers, and several species of endangered bats that use the cliff line as feeding routes.