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Treehouses provide unique getaway in the Red River Gorge

(Photo credit: RRGCabin.com)

POWELL COUNTY-- When you enter the Red River Gorge, you go into a wild wonderland, full of natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Spend a day there and you may want to stay longer. You could sleep in your car or pitch a tent on the forest floor. But now there's an option that lets you rise above all that.

"If you want to come and experience nature at its finest, this is the place to come," said Aaron Dourson, business manager at Red River Gorgeous.

The company has two treehouses for rent. They may not have all the comforts of home, but they're several steps above what you'd find in a family's backyard.

"It's an off-the grid treehouse, so there's no regular electricity or running water, " said Amy Batchman Dourson, rental manager. "So we have jugs of water to use at the kitchen sink and it is potable so you can drink it, and then we have a nice tiny dish rack and all the bowls and dishes you need."

The houses are also hooked up to propane for heat and cooking. The smaller house sleeps two on a mattress in the loft... although a lot of people prefer to relax in a hammock built into the deck.

If you have more people, or want more privacy, you may want to go higher to a treehouse called The Observatory. It's actually four structures anchored among several trees. It's quite a hike for guests or the housekeeper-- about 200 steps. So, it's a good idea for guests to pack lightly.

There's a hand-cranked crane that can help you get the supplies up to the kitchen level. And there's a climb beyond that to get to the bedroom with glass walls and a skylight for a view above the treetops. The rental company went out on a limb with this venture, not sure if there would be much interest in treehouse vacations. But now, they're booked up to ten months in advance.

Aaron said, "People talk about how this was a dream come true. They never imagined an experience like this and it really warms our hearts because that's the experience we want them to have."

They even provide binoculars for those who want to see the far-off rock formations and a large telescope for those who like to stargaze.

When nature calls, there's a composting outhouse, but you'll have to go back to the rental office to take a shower.

The houses were designed by Django Kroner, a Cincinnati man who owns Canopy Crew, a company that's built nearly 40 treehouses in three states. The builders have become tree experts.

"The treehouses have to be able to sway," Aaron said. "So they do use specialized bolts and special hardware so the trees aren't damaged in the process."

The goal is to add one a year to the Red River Gorge, until there's a treehouse village here. Many people say this is the perfect middle ground between camping and staying in a motel. Here you not only get a bird's eye view.... you get rest in a nest.

"It feels like we're doing a public service," Aaron said.

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Spirit of the Bluegrass is sponsored by Regency Memory Care.

Email story ideas to mbartlett@foxlexington.com

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