Skip to main content



   Perhaps no other rock formation in the gorge is as well known as the Half Moon Rock. It has been climbed, repelled, photographed and admired from every conceivable way possible. It is also mentioned in several versions of the Swift journal. The mention is casual to be sure and there are numerous rocks outcrops that could be claimed to be the Half Moon. The one I am familiar with is in the heart of the Red River Gorge.
   The Half-moon rock is located on a ridge parallel to the Chimney Rock ridge spur with a small box canyon between the two massive rock outcrops. They are located at the mouth of Chimney Top creek where it flows into the Red River. This creek is one of the major streams in the heart of the gorge and is full of rock formations.
    The Half-moon rock is mentioned in some of the more prominent Swift journals and some of the oldest versions as well.  While a number on cliff formations can have the shape as described as a half rounded object, this particular one in the Red River Gorge certainly fits the bill.

    Interestingly, a lot of other Swift landmarks are in the general area and certainly a lot of formations that could easily be interpreted as the specific ones that Swift supposedly recalled when recording his journal for the purposes of returning to his hidden mine workings. There is the adjacent Chimney Rock, perhaps the most notable formation in the Red River Gorge. In the distance is the Cloud Splitter. Nearby is the Indian Stairway, Haystack Rock and a host of others that could be the very ones Swift describes.

    There is even a small arch at the Half-Moon which once again fits the descriptors in the Swift legend.
All these beautiful and amazing rock formations have for decades fueled the search for clues to solve the mysterious legend. This is one reason why the Red River Gorge area has been a prime target search area of the the years.

     Though there is no official trail to the Half-Moon rock, thousands hike there every year and scale the backbone of the cliff and the only way to the summit without proper climbing gear. It is a dangerous climb up a bare rock face with nothing to hold to, so extreme care is required to make the summit. In the course of the trip one has to negotiate across the small arch mentioned before and appropriately named the Half-Moon Arch.

The view of the back side of Chimney Rock across the canyon from the Half-Moon
    The Half-Moon rock has always been a favorite of mine and I only return there recently this spring. I must admit the climb seemed more difficult than it did more than 40 years ago. During my visit this trip a local search and rescue group were conducting training exercises at the Half-Moon rock.  They said that they will make several rescues each year in the Red River Gorge. So, be careful if you decide to make the trip. But once you are on top of that mighty rock, the view is breath taking.


Popular posts from this blog

Flint Types of Eastern Kentucky

For those folks interested in archaeology and/or geology you no doubt have considered the flint (called chert by geologists) that all those arrowheads you've seen or in your collection are made from.  The colors, textures and behavior of the amazing substance various greatly and for many years, in fact up until the early 70's only the major identified primitive quarries type of flint were recognized in archaeological research. Little effort or attention was paid toward the raw material of those beautiful and finely crafted tools. Geologist performed little better simply noting in their field work that some beds of lime stones contained chert though sometimes the chert was described in detail.
    That all changed in the early 70's as the result of pioneering work on flint classification for sources found in the eastern part of Kentucky. This undertaking was done by Larry Meadows, Garland Dever and Ed Henson. Yes, yours truly was fortunate enough to know these two very …

The High Rock Petroglyph

What do you think the strange symbols carved on this sandstone boulder represent? The High Rock Carving is certainly one of the most mysterious antiquity found in the Red River Gorge country.  We did a previous post  about this strange rock in August, 2012. Discovered underneath a small rock shelter near the High Rock fire tower, the carvings were discovered on one loose boulder in the shelter. In the late 70's the boulder was removed from the rock shelter by the Red River Museum and Historical Society placed at the museum in Clay City, Kentucky. It was felt that vandals and artifact collectors would soon end up destroying the unusual carved stone. In fact some of the surface appears to have been chipped away, perhaps portions already removed by vandals.    The carvings have many varied, curved shapes including concentric circles and shapes that may represent animals. Additionally, there are numerous holes and other features. Some of the rock has been lost likely by the weathering …

Broke Leg Falls

For sure one old landmark in eastern Menifee County Kentucky is Broke Leg Falls. The Falls has been a tourist stop along US Hwy 460 since the 1940's and before. It was a place for picnics and adventures into the rough rocky terrain the likes of the Red River Gorge. It's location on once a major highway along with the pristine beauty of the box canyon that the stream formed no doubt contributed to the popularity of the Falls.
    The Falls is about 80 feet in height but much of the year has a small water flow. But over eons of time the Falls and stream have carved out a magnificent canyon retreating nearly to the crest of the ridge.
    Located in Menifee County Kentucky, Broke Leg Falls has been a popular tourist spot for travelers of the US Highway which is located only a few yards from the falls. A popular landmark since the 1940's, the Falls was privately owned. Visitors could pay a dime and get to hike the short distance down into the box canyon to view the Falls…