Two Weekends on Ravens Rock in Red River Gorge

My two previous weekends have been spent on top of an amazing rock formation located in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge; Ravens Rock. This large rock formation can be seen throughout The Gorge (especially from Auxier Ridge), but people seldom go up there and take advantage of its breathtaking views. This means that Ravens Rock is a great place to find some solitude! I visited Ravens on two separate trips, a quick trip to photograph the sunset, and an overnight where I photographed the sunset, milky way, and the sunrise.

Ravens Rock, as seen from Auxier Ridge.
Ravens Rock, as seen from Auxier Ridge.

Quick Sunset Trip

The first of these trips was simply a quick trip up to photograph the sunset. Once finished the plan was to night hike back down to my car and head home.

Night hiking
Night hikes like this one are becoming a more common occurrence for me.

The Trip Up

As expected, the trip up Ravens Rock was tiring. The trail starts off easily enough, following a wide, well-mowed section that follows a calm stretch of the Red River.

Start of the Ravens Rock Trail

The start of the trail to Ravens Rock.

The trail soon transitions into an old, paved road, however. It’s at this point that things become extremely steep. Let’s just say that you are going to burn a few calories making your way up this hill!

Start of the Ravens Rock Hill

It’s also worth mentioning that the history as to why there is a road up to this beautiful location is rather interesting. I touch upon it briefly in the video for my second trip up Ravens, the overnighter.

The Top

The last stretch up is definitely the steepest, but once you push past the pain of the climb you are rewarded with stunning views of what is probably one of Kentucky’s greatest natural wonders; the Red River Gorge. Trust me when I say the views from up here will not disappoint!

View from Ravens Rock
An example of the many breath-taking views to be had from this location!

I quickly got in position and set up my shot. The sun was to set just behind Auxier Ridge in the distance. All that was left to be done now was to wait. When it did set, I’d be ready.

After waiting patiently, the show was finally well underway. As predicted, the sunset right behind Auxier Ridge. It became a large, orange ball in the sky as it dipped below the horizon. The only thing I have to complain about is the lack of color in the sky. I’d have to start planning another trip if I wanted to capture that…

Falling Sun, Ravens Rock, Red River Gorge, Kentucky. Photographed by Adam Thompson.

The Overnight Trip

Fast forward to the next weekend and there I was, once again slogging my way up the path to Ravens. This time, however, I came prepared to stay overnight.

The weather was pleasant, with highs in the 60s (Fahrenheit) and very little wind. It was completely overcast, but the weather indicated that the clouds should subside right around sunset. With little to do, I went ahead and set up camp.

Home for the night on top of Ravens Rock.
Home for the night on top of Ravens Rock.

The sunset

After waiting for what felt like forever, but was probably only about 2 hours in reality, it was time for yet another sunset. Once again, the sun was set to dip right behind Auxier Ridge. Knowing this I went about setting up my composition and waited for the sun to get where I wanted it in the sky.

Raven's Sunset
This time around, I was rewarded with a bit more color in the sky.

Like last week, the sun became a big, orange ball in the sky as it set behind the distant ridge. It once again wasn’t a hugely colorful sunset, but there was definitely more color than the previous weekend!

The Milky Way

While there was still some residual light from the setting sun, I went about setting up a composition for the Milky Way. I used an app on my phone called PhotoPills to help me locate where it would appear in the sky. With the location in mind, I set up a composition. Now it was time to wait…

After several hours, the Milky Way finally made it to the area in the sky I wanted it. I went about shooting it and got the following composition that I’m fairly happy with:

Milky Way from Ravens Rock, Red River Gorge, Kentucky.

I shot this on my Canon 70D at 24mm, f/4.0 with a 20-second exposure at ISO 3200. I’m mostly pleased with the shot, but I have one big gripe. I forgot to take an exposure for the foreground! All well, I guess it still works with just a silhouette of the ridge in the distance.


After an uneventful night, I awoke early to find, much to my delight, that the valley below was full of fog. I could barely contain my excitement! I set up my composition, waited, and finally captured the following shot of the rising sun:

Raven's Sunrise, Ravens Rock, Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Once again, my only gripe is the lack of color in the sky, but I think the fog more than makes up for that!

Check This Place Out

As I mentioned towards the beginning of this post, not very many people make the trek up to Ravens Rock. It’s a real shame because it’s one of my favorite views in the entire Gorge! The plus side of this, however, is that if you do decide to go up, you will likely have the whole place to yourself! It’s definitely worth the steep climb to see!

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