Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Riding the Red River Gorge: The Dragon Returns


The State of Appalachia, as some people call it, is an area that encompasses West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky, and East Tennessee.  This place is a motorcycle mecca.   There are more killer Motorcycle roads than a person could ride in a lifetime.  On this trip, we explore eastern-central Kentucky.  The Red River Gorge area.  We make our basecamp at 4 Guys RV Park where we have trailered the bikes. 

On our first full day in the area, we ride the Eye of the Dragon that wraps around the Gorge, mostly comprised of Kentucky SR 715. There is a neat one-lane tunnel that you use to get to the gorge area.  This road is filled with twists and turns, ascents and descents.  It is a very technical ride.  We stop at an old homestead during the ride, and  I say to myself, "I bet they wish they had motorcycles back in the day." 

After the Gorge, we ride down to Jackson to Ride the Red.  Highway 15 is a fast four-lane road with sweeping turns and fast straightaways.  In Jackson, we have a great lunch at Sazon Mexican Restaurant.  After lunch, we ride State Road 52 over to Beattyville.  Then back home to base camp.  A fantastic first day, with the second half filled with many twisties and fast sweeping turns.   

We ride the Beattyville loop and part of the River Dragon on our second full day. Great lunch at the Bob Cat Dinner, named after the Beattyville High School Mascot. It is a great burger and shakes place. Today was a repeat of day 1, with lots of technical roads.

On day 3, we decided to do something different and took a short ride to Natural Bridges State Park. Then took the sky lift (ski chair lift) to the top of the ridge where the Natural Bridge is located. These natural bridges are located all over the Cumberland Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains. This is the largest one we have ever seen. Neat rock passage to the bottom of the bridge.

It was our final day of riding.  The best day yet, we rode KY HWY 28, The River Dragon, down to Hazard.  Then KY HWY 30, The Hornets Nest, back to the Mountain Parkway. Again, these are excellent technical motorcycle roads with no traffic and some views that take your breath away.  On the way, we stop at the Log Cabin Cathedral, a large church built like a log cabin. Pretty impressive.

In Hazard, we had some, so, so barbecue.  It was not bad, but not great.  I'm a BBQ snob, with the ultimate standard of Jack's BBQ in Nashville. However, we have had BBQ in Texas that was just as good, and South Carolina BBQ is to die for, but in many ways, it is not authentic BBQ except for the pulled pork.

While in Kentucky, you will see this God Awful blue everywhere, it's the University of Kentucky colors, and the whole state has adopted it, sad to say. It's all good, though. It was a great week of riding its always sad when you have to leave, but it's another adventure under our belt and a great taste of the State of Appalachia.

Some Motorcycle Rides in Appalachia