Red River Gorge business owners ask for trails to be reopened in area

Photo: WKYT/Olivia Russell
Photo: WKYT/Olivia Russell(WKYT)
Published: May. 13, 2020 at 4:29 PM EDT
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Memorial Day weekend is huge for tourism, but business owners at the Red River Gorge are worried they could miss one of the few opportunities during the short season while their doors are closed.

Businesses like trail guides, photographers, and kayak rentals rely on the gorge and the tourists it brings.

Even if businesses in the area are able to open, they can’t actually operate while it’s closed.

Red River Adventure is one of the kayak rental shops that has already lost half of kayaking season.

That’s why owner Ernie Braden reached out to other business owners to form a coalition and propose guidelines they’ll follow if they’re allowed to reopen. Things like wearing masks, sanitizing equipment, and safe transportation for visitors.

He says some businesses risk closing completely if the shutdown lasts any longer. Especially working in a seasonal industry.

Braden says, however, it’s not just about the businesses, it’s about giving people safe activities too.

“We want everybody to be able to come back down and enjoy the outdoors. All the visitors, people are smiling, just having a great time. Getting out here enjoying the wilderness itself is a way to social distance. If you go out camping you can have several feet, if not hundreds of feet, in between campsites,” says Braden.

“When the gorge does reopen it’s still not clear on which businesses can operate,” says Braden.

His concerns echo a lack of direction for what CDC restrictions will be in place.

Braden says he has submitted the proposed guidelines to Governor Andy Beshear but says he hasn’t heard if they’ll be approved.

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