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December 11, 2012
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Red River Gorge Lodge a Place to Reconnect and Refocus

Provides an ideal setting for corporate retreats

By Katherine Tandy Brown

Cliffview Resort commands great views of the Cowan Fork area of the Red River Gorge.

Nestled in Eastern Kentucky’s Appalachians is a corporate retreat that brings new meaning to the term “off site.” Surrounded by the dense evergreens and hardwoods of Daniel Boone National Forest, limestone cliffs that draw rock climbers from around the world, and wildlife galore, Cliffview Lodge is way off site and is an ideal place to clear the workplace cobwebs for management and employees alike.

“Our resort is remote, yet it’s only an hour’s drive from Lexington,” said Blake Bookstaff, who has been the co-owner of Cliffview Resort near Campton with his dad, Jim, since 2005. “We’re tucked in the Red River Gorge area and the views are awesome. It’s easy to get a team to focus when they’re out of the city hustle-bustle in a rustic lodge with beautiful scenery.”

The area’s largest log structure, Cliffview’s Lodge commands a spectacular view of Cowan Fork Gorge and has 16 rooms; two are suites that can connect, for a maximum sleeping capacity of 64. Most guestrooms, which have flat-screen TVs but no phones, connect by sliding glass doors to a wide wrap-around porch with comfy rockers and swings for quality staring-into-space time. A great room features a massive stone fireplace surrounded by handmade log furniture, a country kitchen and a dining room.

An attached 125-attendee conference center and banquet hall with a fully equipped kitchen is included in a buyout of the lodge. Open all year, the resort can arrange meeting speakers, storytellers and catering for as many meals as a group requires or guests can choose to fire up an enormous commercial gas grill for a cookout extraordinaire.

For smaller groups, Cliffview Manor, a 2,400-s.f. four-bedroom cabin, can sleep 15 people. Crowning a hilltop, this authentic log structure commands a panoramic view of a gorgeous mountain valley. It, too, has a great room, dining room and kitchen, plus a wrap-around deck and an outdoor sunroom and hot tub for relaxing amid spectacular views.

Even more private are 30-plus cabins of varying sizes scattered in the hills nearby. Many are hidden in the trees.

Also on the property is an 800-s.f. activity and event center that can seat 225 – complete with an exhibit hall for a trade show and dance floor capacity – and a heliport. The space is roomy enough that a car-related meeting brought several vehicles in for display. This center’s wrap-around is a veranda with the same stunning views.

The resort’s menu of meeting areas and lodgings is broad and groups can rent each separately or lease the whole shebang by the day or for an extended period. Packages can include meeting space, lodging, zipline and rock-climbing tours, other activities and/or catering.

Ziplining is increasing in popularity in Red River Gorge, combining spectacular views and excitement.

“Whatever a client’s needs are or whatever budget they’re working with, we’ll do our best to make it work,” said Bookstaff. “We’re very flexible.”

Team-building options focus on communing with nature. Red River Outdoors, an experienced outfitter that is 20 minutes away, leads guided rock-climbing expeditions and canoeing and kayaking trips on the state’s only National Wild and Scenic River, the mighty Red. Also nearby, Torrent Falls Climbing Adventure, open March through November, offers the nation’s first Via Ferrata, a system that aids rock climbers by using cables and hand and foot rungs, making the learning process easy for first-timers.

In addition, Cliffview can arrange group yoga classes, horseback riding, hiking, fishing (catch and release) and, since July of 2011, ziplining. Right next to the lodge, Red River Gorge Zipline (RRGZ) is a part of the new Zip the Bluegrass trail that currently includes five in-state ziplines and is open year-round. This company’s tours on five ziplines last two to three hours.

“The first three are through the tree canopy, evergreens and hardwoods, where you always see wildlife, with tons of photo ops,” said Nancy Griffin, RRGZ representative. “After that, you climb to 300 feet or more, going up to 55 miles per hour and can see the cliffs the gorge is famous for. As many times as I’ve taken the zip line, it still takes my breath away.”

When attendees have zipped, climbed, paddled, galloped and bonded with their teammates, Marks Mountain BBQ, a Gorge favorite now located at Cliffview, can sate a mountain-sized appetite with such favorites as hickory-smoked pulled pork and barbecued chicken. Or groups can discover the seasoned rock climbers’ culinary nirvana, Miguel’s Pizza and Rock Climbing Shop, a fixture near Natural Bridge State Park in Slade since 1984, for anyway-you-want-‘em, to-die-for homemade pizzas.

All in all, says Bookstaff, Cliffview Resort is a one-stop, meeting planner’s dream, set smack in the middle of some of Kentucky’s loveliest lands.

Katherine Tandy Brown is a correspondent for The Lane Report. She can be reached at

Gorge Away!

Cliffview Lodge
(888) 596-0525 |

Marks Mountain BBQ
(606) 668-6441

Miguel’s Pizza
(606) 663-1975 |

Red River Gorge Zipline
(888) 605-2609 |

Red River Outdoors
(859) 230-3567 |

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