A chilly, wet cave might appear to offer little to anyone who visits, but it has become a popular destination for the adventuresome.
Standup Paddleboarding Kentucky offers paddle board lessons and excursions. The adventure business was founded last year by Aaron Koch and Heather Warman, a couple who wanted to share their love of paddleboarding and Kentucky.
One of those adventures is a 1.5-mile journey in a flooded limestone mine on LED-lit paddle boards. In addition toa paddle boarding lesson, it offers a chance to learn more about the cave and its initial purpose.
Koch and Warman are the tour guides.
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“People don’t feel comfortable going by themselves,” especially if they’re doing something new and different, like underground paddleboarding, Warman said.
The adventure doesn’t require experience, but you do have to sign a waiver. Tickets are $50, and all equipment — helmet and headlamp, paddleboard, paddle and life vest — is provided. The cave is fairly cold, even in summer, so dressing warm and comfortable is important.
Instructors first help participates step onto their boards, recommending a shoulder-width stance. If that’s uncomfortable, participants can kneel or sit on the board. The next lesson is to hold the paddle with both hands and keep it in the middle of the board for balance.
On the mine journey, a guide leads the way and shares the history of the mine. The quarry began operation in the 1890s. It was mined until the 1980s, when blasting opened a natural spring that flooded the mine. On the tour, paddlers can see old mining equipment and footprints.
The underground cave is managed by Thrillsville Adventure Park at Red River Gorge. Besides paddling and kayaking in the cave, Thrillsville offers aerial adventures, including rock-climbing, rope-walking and off road adventures.
Heather Root, a recent paddle-boarding customer, said she loved the experience. She said she hopes the business will encourage Kentuckians “to get out and enjoy nature.”
She already has schedule a paddle-boarding adventure with a Girl Scout troop.
The underground glow SUP experience is available multiple times a month, but it sells out fast.
In addition to the mine adventures, Standup Paddleboarding Kentucky offers paddleboarding at Grayson Lake, Cumberland Falls and Lexington’s Jacobson Park.
Warman said she and Koch hope to add one destination every year.
Standup Paddleboarding Kentucky will offer an introductory event June 28 and 29 at Jacobson Park. See the business’s Facebook page for more information.
The Lexington-based company plans to host events outside of Kentucky. On July 7, in Hixson, Tenn., the company will offer a two-hour Full Moon Float, on an underwaterpaddleboard with underwater LED lighting.