Through the Cumberland Gap and near Daniel Boone’s legendary Wilderness Road is Boone’s Ridge: a family-friendly, safe, tourism destination that delivers a unique wildlife encounter and outdoor experience combined with diverse attractions and activities that deliver something for everyone. Located in the same area Boone made famous nearly 250 years ago, Boone’s Ridge will once again draw travelers to these magnificent wild lands—only this time instead of unexplored terrain, delighted visitors will find a collection of safe, comfortable amenities nestled in Kentucky’s Cumberland Mountains in the midst of abundant wildlife and beautiful landscapes.
Boone’s Ridge is owned and operated by the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation, a 501 (C)(3), non-profit organization.
Boone’s Ridge will alter the economic and educational landscapes of Eastern Kentucky when this $56 million endeavor comes to life. It is set to open in summer 2023.
Tucked away in Kentucky’s Cumberland Mountains, Boone’s Ridge will host over 990,000 visitors a year from across the nation and Canada. Here, in addition to the many amenities and attractions, the wildlife is abundant, and visitors will enjoy the uncommon sights such as wild, free-ranging elk, rare birds, and other wildlife thriving in their natural habitat.
Elk are a tourism super-magnet, attracting crowds wherever viewing opportunities exist, and Kentucky is home to the largest wild elk population east of the Rocky Mountains.
Boone’s Ridge is home to over 260 species of birds, and is already listed as a “bird watching hotspot” by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the leading resource and community of birders. The site will be a favored destination amongst the over 60 million self-described “birders” in the US, as well as casual enthusiasts.
Black bears are regarded as the most popular wildlife species among tourists in the United States and are plentiful at Boone’s Ridge.
White-tailed deer can be seen in great numbers at Boone’s Ridge. Less tolerant of human proximity than elk, the deer will be observable year-round.
A robust population of Bobcats is present at Boone’s Ridge where they thrive in the backdrop of the Cumberland Mountains.
Combining plentiful wildlife and magnificent wild lands with first-class amenities and customer super-service, Boone’s Ridge will be an exceptional tourism experience from the indoor amenities to seemingly endless outdoor sights and sounds.
The zoo will feature North American wildlife species including raptors in a zoo design compatible with the magnificent setting.
The children's zoo offers an up-close family-friendly animal experience.
This paved walking trail is 1.5 to 2.5 miles in length and is wheelchair and baby stroller accessible. The trail allows visitors to view wildlife, enjoy the views, artwork and exhibits along the trail.
An area where visiting students can interact with nature and participate in hands-on wildlife habitat experiments.
Structures to allow close observation and photography of birds as they visit an array of bird feeders.
An enclosed butterfly garden to provide up close encounters with butterflies.
A shopping village built to resemble an Appalachian frontier fort.
A tram system to comfortably move visitors over a 3 ¼ mile trail across Boone’s Ridge.
An under-roof, open-air restaurant nestled on a wooded Boone’s Ridge hillside.
A ten-acre bison range with viewing stands and close-up viewing opportunities.
A 75 foot high observation tower with three tiers of observation platforms.
A 60-mile network of hiking trails.
Boone’s Ridge is an investment in the economic development and recovery of a region with a well-documented and pervasive legacy of poverty and poor educational outcomes. Boone’s Ridge will bring opportunity for economic and educational development to this area of Eastern Kentucky.
The economy of Eastern Kentucky has long been centered on the extraction and export of natural resources. Boone’s Ridge will prove the value in preserving and showcasing the abundant wildlife and magnificent mountain landscapes.
The 990,000 Boone’s Ridge visitors each year will generate over $202 million in new spending annually, which will create 3,300 new jobs. Boone’s Ridge will employ 220 people with an average full-time wage and benefits package of $54,263, which is almost triple the local individual median income.
Boone’s Ridge will implement a far-reaching and robust effort to support and enhance existing education programs in the region. Additionally, Boone’s Ridge will directly reach over 100,000 students annually through on-site and remote learning programs, scholarships and education grants.
In partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell instructors will be brought to the region to conduct teacher workshops.
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