Red River Gorge Watershed

What is a watershed?

Wherever you are, you are in a watershed. Each watershed is defined by the high area or ridge of land that separates rain water or snow melt as it drains down to a lower elevation. This water, which flows to different streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and seas, supplies our drinking water, hydrates our agriculture, and provides us with recreational opportunities. Plants and animals also rely on healthy clean watersheds for survival.

Log cabin Rentals | Torrent Falls | Red River Gorge Kentucky Cabins


What watershed are we in?

Here in Slade, KY we are in the Upper Kentucky Watershed.

If you would like to know which watershed you live in check out this EPA link and enter your zip code.


What makes Kentucky’s water special?

The state of Kentucky has approximately 49,105 miles of river, over 1,900 of these miles are designated as navigable waterways. This is the highest amount of designated navigable waterways for any state in the continental USA, only second to Alaska. 19.4 of these miles are Nationally designated as Wild and Scenic (Wild – 9.1 miles; Recreational – 10.3 miles). These Wild and Scenic miles are found here in The Red River Gorge.

Cabins | Middle fork of Red River on the property of Red River Outdoors

A little about The Wild and Scenic Red River

  • The Red River is managed by the Daniel Boone National Forest (U.S. Forest Service)
  • It was designated as Wild and Scenic on December 2, 1993
  • The location of designation is from the Highway 746 Bridge to the confluence with the School House Branch.
  • More than 70 species of fish and 16 mussels thrive in the Red River.

Red River Gorge Watershed

Boating on The Red River

Canoeing or Kayaking on the river is seasonal. The rate of flow is based on the precipitation in our watershed. The best season is in the early spring, after the heavy spring rains, and once again for a short season in the fall. The summer months are usually too dry and do not always provide an adequate flow rate.

The U.S. Forest Service maintains one access point at Copperas Creek Canoe Launch on Highway 715.

You can check out the water levels of The Red River from the Hazel Green USGS water data discharge station (here). When the water levels are above 20 cfs, this usually creates good boating conditions. Once it gets above 60 cfs you should be an experienced boater. Check with the Forest Rangers at the Gladie Visitor Center for river conditions and be safe out there.


Do you want to learn more?

If you are interested in learning more about watersheds, visit the Gladie Center in the Daniel Boone National Forest, here in the Red River Gorge. On March 18th they will be providing a special event from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. called “Forests to Faucets”. They will be celebrating World Water Day and International day of the forest by discovering how National Forests provide clean water to millions of Americans!

You can also get involved by volunteering your time, donating or just learning more through The Kentucky Waterways Alliance.


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