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.
I should also mention that if you're interested in doing a trip like this yourself, you can check out my free trail guide to hiking Raven's Rock.
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.
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.
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!
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 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!
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 sun set 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...
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 setup camp.
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 fro the sun to get where I wanted it 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 that 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 setup 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:
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 setup my composition, waited, and finally captured the following shot of the rising sun:
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!