Kentucky : Safety by City
- Bowling Green
- Cave City
- Cumberland Falls
- Harlan Tri-Cities
- La Grange
- St. Matthews
Chances are, if you are in Slade, Kentucky, you are either
A.) An experienced rock climber,
B.) An adrenaline junkie or
C.) Very, very lost.
Slade is one of the most remote areas in the country you can visit with everything that makes the outdoors rugged, adventurous, and remarkable.
This isn’t like any other “tourist town” you’ll ever visit.
It’s centered around the Red River Gorge section of Daniel Boone National Forest.
The area is known for its dramatic rock climbing walls, sandstone arches, and challenging hikes.
If what’s above ground isn’t enough for you, you can go under the gorge and paddle through water-filled caverns.
Slade is busiest from March through October.
You’ll find few hotels in this region, but more campsites and cabins than you can count.
The fanciest dinner you’ll get is a slice of pizza and some tacos, and the best photo op will be hard to choose with so many natural wonders tucked into one forest.
Warnings & Dangers in Slade
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
While crime isn't a risk here, you do have risks that come with being surrounded by nature and only more nature outside the nature you are already in. Because of all the challenges we need to talk through, this is getting a medium risk. However, your serious outdoor adventures can (and should) roll your eyes at that!
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
You will need a car to get here. There isn't a cab or rideshare nearby, and if you wait for the public bus you'll make the population of Slade 32 people.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
You don't have to worry about getting pickpocketed, but you should pack smartly and efficiently and never leave your belongings unattended.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
If it can happen, it can happen here. That's why there is a medium risk throughout the year. The most possible risks are flash flooding, especially in the sandstone canyons, and severe thunderstorms that can produce tornadoes.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk of getting mugged... by a person. We cannot guarantee a bear won't take your stuff by force if you don't bring bear-proof containers or string your food from a tree.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
The only terror that happens here is severe weather and tragic accidents. You can rest assured there's a low risk of terrorism in Daniel Boone National Forest.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
Since this really isn't a city, and there are only a handful of businesses, there aren't going to be any scams to worry about. However, please let us know if you come across one in the comments below.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
As long as a woman can handle her business in the wilderness, there's a low risk. However, it's not wise to hike, climb, fish, or camp in this area alone. There aren't a lot of ways to call for help by yourself.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
There hasn't been a water quality report posted since 2020, but no violations were listed, and all standards were met. For the most recent information during your visit, call the Powell Valley Water District at (606)663-5870.
Safest Places to Visit in Slade
You can come face to face with many venomous snakes.
No, that’s not a travel warning.
That’s a suggestion to visit the Kentucky Reptile Zoo.
The zoo is in Slade, and there are more than 75 types of reptiles, from turtles to alligators.
The venom from the poisonous animals is used for research, so this isn’t just a place to bring in money.
It helps us understand the dangers and solutions of venom.
If you are lucky, you’ll be there on a day when you can watch a venom extraction.
The Gorge Underground is an adventure company that takes you underground to the crystal clear waters in the gorge’s depths.
You can SUP and kayak.
There are various tour options with longer and shorter routes.
Bring a waterproof bag with your camera because you’ll want to take photos here.
There are far too many to list, but make sure you review all the difficulty levels and fully read the waiver you’ll have to sign for the more risky activities.
Ziplines and kayak activities can have weight and height requirements.
Devil’s Gulch in Natural Bridge State Resort Park is more ominous than it sounds.
It’s a deep climb (or descent, depending on which way you are going), but at the top, you’ll find breathtaking views of the region.
The challenging parts of it include the stairs, which are steep and can be slippery, and vertigo you might get if you are afraid of heights.
Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail meets the Red River in this region with a suspension bridge that’s very popular with adventurers.
You can also see amazing views riding the Skylift at Natural Bridge.
This is a ski lift that runs for a mile, and you can’t get better views than this ride.
You’ll find more than 100 natural arches in this section of Daniel Boone National Park.
Many of the trails aren’t accessible for people with disabilities.
You can review the different trails on the extensive Daniel Boone National Park website to find those that suit your hiking needs.
Places to Avoid in Slade
When visiting a place like Slade with so many options, you should choose adventures that are within your comfort zone.
Ok, maybe slightly outside your comfort zone, but ease your way in.
While there are a lot of natural arches in this section of Kentucky, this is not Arches National Park.
That is actually 1,700 miles away in Utah.
Just don’t get the two confused.
An easy way to tell if you are looking at the wrong place, aside from the location, is that Kentucky is lush with greenery, while Utah is a desert and barren of plants aside from some low-lying plants.
When it comes to where you stay in and around Slade, you might not be able to shack up at the Ritz-Carlton, but there are glamping (fancy camping) cabins, treehouses, and historic homes deep in the woods.
Don’t let a seeming lack of places to stay deter you.
There are hundreds of options available.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Slade
- Assuming you can get a cell phone signal, you can still call 911 for help. However, you’ll have to help 911 by giving your exact location or as close as you can get to your exact location. You can also call the Kentucky State Police at 1-800-222-5555.
- If you can’t get a cell signal, go as high as possible. Some of the ridges will have places where at least a weak signal gets through. When I’m hiking in rural areas, I like to “check-in” on Facebook as often as I can, so if I do get lost, there’s at least a trail following me as I went before I lost service.
- The closest hospital in case of an accident or injury is Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Slade. The phone number is (859)745-3500.
- I hope you learn a lot about venom at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo because you’ll need those snake smarts in the wild. There are two species of poisonous snakes in Red River Gorge. You might come across a Copperhead or Timber Rattlesnake. If you do get bitten, don’t mess with the wound. Get medical care as soon as possible and stay as calm as possible. If you are with a friend who gets bitten, you need to be the voice of calm.
- To get to Red River Gorge, you’ll have to go down Nada Tunnel Road. Guess what’s on that road? Yep. A tunnel. This isn’t just ANY tunnel. As you approach, you are on a narrow road with a tree canopy. The tunnel looks like you are driving into the depths of the earth. THIS TUNNEL IS ONE-LANE ONLY! It’s not very long, but it’s pretty tight quarters. Make sure you don’t see headlights or a car approaching from the other direction. Enter the tunnel, drive carefully, and you’ll be on your way.
- There are plenty of places along the side of the road here with “NO PARKING” signs, and you’ll see there are a lot of people who don’t listen to those instructions. Parking alongside the road is dangerous and illegal. You can get ticketed, towed, and fined if you get caught. Don’t park in the areas designated as emergency pull-offs either. There are some pull-offs with a big “P” sign – and that means you CAN park there.
- The natural arches here make a great tourist attraction, but they are completely in their natural state. There are no guardrails, handrails, nets, or anything else to keep you from falling. There isn’t an arch that is too dangerous to walk across, but you have to use the utmost safety when doing so and hold on tight to kids.
- Don’t go chasing waterfalls. That’s not just a TLC song. If you get too close to the edge of a waterfall in an attempt to look down, you can easily lose your footing on the slick rocks. I actually have a friend whose wife slipped on a waterfall, tumbled down several feet, and broke both of her legs in a mountain area like this. They were both skilled hikers, but accidents can happen. Luckily, after a year of surgeries, casts, and mobility devices, she’s back on two feet.
- When choosing a rafting or kayaking trip, know the class of the rapids ahead of you. The scale goes from Class 1 (literally just floating on water) to Class 6 (literally risking your life, it’s so extreme). Class 3 is good for those who can swim and want a little more excitement. Keep in mind the river levels will determine how fast the rapids are as well. Lower water means less intense rapids.
- You shouldn’t come to this area without a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio. Mostly, it’s the only way to get severe weather information. You can’t be this far into the wilderness without knowing if there is heavy rain, winter weather, or severe weather coming.
So... How Safe Is Slade Really?
Slade gets its law enforcement from nearby Stanton and Powell County.
Since Slade is more of a “place” than a city, it doesn’t have a high crime rate.
On top of that, there is a camaraderie among outdoor people with a helpful spirit.
You still should never let your guard down, leave bags unattended, or park with the windows rolled down.
Always lock your car and keep all belongings out of plain sight.
The biggest risks come from natural hazards, either in the terrain or in the weather.
This region is about as much “roughing it” as you can find in the continental United States.
Be sure to pack bear spray because there are black bears in this region.
You should also have bug spray and a first aid kit.
Bring equipment to turn river water into drinking water.
How Does Slade Compare?
|Siem Reap (Cambodia)||63|
|Phnom Penh (Cambodia)||61|
|Niagara Falls (Canada)||87|
- Visas - You'll need your visa at the airport when entering and leaving the country, but you can travel throughout the states and cities without having to show it. Be sure to keep it in a waterproof container if you'll have it with you while hiking. Another option is to put it in a safe deposit box at a local bank before you go into the forest.
- Currency - You can only use the U.S. Dollar here. It's a good idea to have cash as some of the smaller businesses in the mountains might not accept credit cards. If you dine at a restaurant, an average meal will run $10 - $15, with added amounts for alcohol, drinks, or desserts.
- Weather - Bring waterproof and rugged layers. You'll need hiking boots that protect and secure your ankles. Extra socks are helpful in case your feet get wet. Find room to pack bug spray and sunscreen too.
- Airports - Lexington's Blue Grass Airport is about an hour away. In about two hours, you can get to the airports in Louisville or Cincinnati.
- Travel Insurance - You should definitely get travel insurance and pay a little extra if you need to for health coverage. It can be quite costly to get rescued or helicoptered out of the wilderness if you have an accident.
Slade Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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