Appalachian Travel: Check out Four Glamping Destinations Near Kentucky’s Red River Gorge

Stay in a yurt, treehouse, geodesic dome or even a “glamp wagon” in the stunning region, which has been named a National Natural Landmark.

Emma Frankart Henterly
Columbus Monthly
The Canopy Crew offers geodesic dome rentals in the Red River Gorge area near Lexington, Kentucky.

At just four hours from Columbus by car, the Red River Gorge area east of Lexington, Kentucky, is renowned for its stunning rock formations, popular hiking trails and world-class rock climbing. Carved by the river for which it’s named, the gorge is part of the Daniel Boone National Forest and has been named a National Natural Landmark. It’s also close to Natural Bridge State Park, where you’ll find one of the largest such landmarks in the area.

With such an abundance of options for physical activities, the idea of roughin’ it at a traditional campsite might sound unappealing. Fortunately, comfortable glamping facilities abound, from geodesic domes in the trees to riverside wagons. Here are four to consider.

The 50 acres of Dappled Light Adventures includes hiking trails, cliffside views, a waterfall, a pond and a trampoline/lounge net. Its five canvas safari tents feature furnishings, a natural gas heater, and an outdoor water pump, charcoal grill and private fire pit; each sleeps up to four or five people. Plans are in the works to add electricity and air conditioning or fans later this year; a shared bathhouse has private facilities, each with a heater, flush toilet, vanity and instant hot water shower. There’s also a traditional cabin with full amenities that sleeps five. “Our whole goal is making getting outside accessible for everybody,” says Izaac Rains, who co-owns the company with his father, Kevin.

Django Kroner, owner of the Canopy Crew, lived in a treehouse for three years in his 20s, so he’s a pro at nature’s high-rises. The company’s three treehouses, three cliff-suspended houses and three geodesic domes amid the trees range from rustic, off-grid offerings (think: composting toilet, battery-powered lights, propane grill) to luxurious environs with heat and A/C, full kitchens, lounge nets and more. One unit even includes a hot tub. Units without running water have access to guest showers at the headquarters of Red River Gorgeous, which manages the rentals. 

The sprawling, family-owned Red River Gorge Vacations manages rentals for a vast range of individually owned units. Of note are two yurts that sleep four each and a two-story, “yurt-inspired luxury cabin” that sleeps 10. All three are pet-friendly and feature electricity, wood roofs, full bathrooms and kitchens, private sleeping areas, comprehensive furnishings, stargazer ceilings and a hot tub. 

The most noteworthy features of Red River Adventure are the five “glamp wagons” parked along the riverfront. (Two more are available on the other side of the property.) Custom-built by the owners, the wagons feature queen beds, electricity, a mini fridge, a space heater and air conditioning. Each is parked next to a picnic table and fire pit. A shared bathhouse with heating and A/C serves the non-riverfront wagons; the others have portable toilets with hand-washing stations, though plans are in the works to build another bathhouse. Wooden cabin and covered wagon designs are both available, as is a traditional, fully appointed cabin that sleeps up to five. 

This story is from the Appalachian Spring feature package in the April 2023 issue of Columbus Monthly.