This is the first installment of a series of photo blog posts we are making showcasing beautiful Pike County, Kentucky. As is true about our musical talent, the Eastern Kentucky region is ripe with photographers who are, in our humble opinion, among the best in the country. As with any art form, photography requires not only patience and technical knowledge, but also an eye for color and the perfect angle.
Each post will feature a different photographer from our region, highlighting some of the rustic, natural beauty Appalachia is known for. If you like what you see, feel free to reach out to the photographer for commissions. Their information is posted below.
This collection reflects some of Chuck Henson’s work. Henson is not only a photographer, but is also a valued member of Pike County’s hospitality industry.
Chuck Henson Gallery
This selection of photographs is drawn from Chuck Henson’s “A Walk At Grapevine” series. Also featured is a beautiful black and white photo of the Fordson Building, home of the Stone Heritage Museum in Stone, Kentucky.
C.D. Henson Photography
For more information on Chuck Henson, his photography and commission inquiries:
Pikeville-Pike County, Kentucky is quickly becoming a popular tourist destination for not only those interested in Hatfield and McCoy Feud lore, but also those who enjoy authentic country experiences, and outdoor adventure. Over the past few years, tourist spending has been at an all time high in Pike County, with travelers who are looking for alternatives to better known historic and outdoor destinations flocking to our Appalachian mountains. Sometimes it’s more interesting to switch things up, and explore some of America’s lesser-known treasures, and Pikeville-Pike County is stocked full of hidden gems. So what are some must-dos for the first time visitor? Let’s take a look.
1) Hatfields & McCoys Historic Feud Tours
How amazing would it be to hold bullets fired in the OK
Coral showdown? Bullets fired in the infamous Hatfield New Years attack on the
McCoy homeplace are on display for visitors to see, and so much more, in
Pikeville-Pike County. Firearms owned by “Devil” Anse Hatfield, as well as many
of the significant sites where the Hatfields and McCoys lived, worked, and
fought are all open to tourists to explore with the Hatfields & McCoys
Historic Feud Tour. With this
self-guided tour, visitors will traverse the mountainous region we call “feud
country”, featuring the McCoy Homeplace, the Hog Trial Cabin, Aunt Betty’s
House, the Historic Pike County Courthouse (site of the trial of the Hatfields
and “Cotton Top” Mounts), feudists graves and so much more, all available during
daylight hours. The Big Sandy Heritage Museum features a Hatfield and McCoy
exhibit, which contains the world’s most complete collection of Hatfield McCoy
artifacts. Want to learn more about the Irish heritage that became Hatfield
& McCoy heritage?
2) Dueling Barrels Brewery & Distillery
Pikeville’s premiere brewery and distillery, Dueling Barrels features a tour that not only explores how moonshine, bourbon and beer is made, but also the rich culture that makes Appalachia so colorful and unique. Tours cost $12 per person and guests over the age of 21 will receive four tasting tokens to use in the tasting bar. With a fully stocked gift shop, this tour has become a staple for the Hatfield McCoy Feud Tour experience. Stay tuned for news on the opening of their highly anticipated taproom, Pearse’s Place.
3) Downtown Shopping & Dining
Also located in Downtown Pikeville is an assortment of charming
“mom-and-pop” stores, with clever, high quality gifts, clothing, locally made
products and more. Out Historic Downtown shopping district includes popular
spots such as Ritchie’s Art and Gift Shoppe, Mickey’s Menagerie, CC Belle (a
clothing store) and Dance World, each offering something all their own. Rustic
Roots on Second offers locally crafted art, as well as t-shirts, candles and more.
If you have a knack for creativity, or simply want to try something new, Rustic
Roots also offers art classes.
There are several dining options as well, from Bank 253’s
sports bar to Chirico’s authentic Italian, and everything in between. For one
of the best burgers in town, look no further than Joyce’s Place. The
award-winning Blue Raven is a must try for visitors who want to taste expertly
prepared dishes that use local ingredients. Dorsey’s Dairy Bar is a staple for
those who fancy the flavors of a classic, down home drive-in restaurant. Their
hotdogs are the stuff of legends.
For those of you who enjoy the most important meal of the
day, Southern Biscuit and Grill
is now open on Second Street as well, offering delicious breakfast,
lunch, and a bit of everything else.
4) Outdoor Adventure
Pike County is home to towering Appalachian Mountains with a great variety of hiking, biking, horse and river trails. Hosting over 100 runs a year, Pikeville-Pike County’s outdoor scene is booming. Visitors make it a point to travel into the region from all over to take part in the many 5Ks planned throughout the year, as well as special outdoor events, such as the Southlake Trail Ride at Lick Creek, Hatfield McCoy Powersports Spring 2019 Ride the Ridge, whitewater rafting in Elkhorn City and so much more.
Pikeville City offers something truly special for the outdoor enthusiast. Pikeville’s Zip, Paddle & Saddle features horseback riding on approximately 3 miles of horse trails, kayaking down Pikeville’s lazy Big Sandy River, and Zip across the top of a mountain on 7 lines up to 1000′ long. Visitors can enjoy all of this for one low price.
One cannot mention outdoor adventure without mentioning…
5) Breaks Interstate Park – Elk Viewing, Cultural & Outdoor Activities
With over 4000 acres of breath-taking beauty, wildlife, and
25 miles of trails, the Breaks Interstate Park is one of America’s most breath-taking
hidden gems. The Breaks is regionally known as the “Grand Canyon of the South”,
and prominently features a 5-mile wide gorge
that reaches 1650 feet deep. One of the Breaks most exciting and popular
offerings is the Elk Viewing tours, where visitors can potentially see over 100
elk on a vast, scenic preservation. The Breaks even offers lodging and dining
options, with cabins, cottages, and a lodge available for reservation.
For a truly memorable
experience, visitors are invited to enjoy dinner overlooking the canyon at the
Rhododendron Restaurant. With
floor-to-ceiling windows, visitors can dine in a comfortable atmosphere while
taking in a breath-taking scene of an Appalachian mountain range. The menu is
also amazing, offering a broad selection of delicious dishes.
The Breaks also offers
a variety of educational opportunities as well, from a moonshine
still demonstration, to a plant and animal life presentation with a segment on
coal. The Breaks Interstate Park is truly a must-see destination, worthy of a
weekend getaway, or an extended stay.
6) Pike County Cruise-ins
Pike County is a car lover’s paradise.
With cruise-ins showcasing classic cars and hotrods being held most every month
(during the warm months of the year), gear heads will feel right at home. Pike
County is home to several car clubs, full of passionate car enthusiasts with a
heart of gold. Many car shows held in our region have their own flavor, and
often serve as fundraisers for charities, making this a truly wonderful thing
for visitors to become a part of.
7) Pikeville Farmer’s Market
Visitors love to explore local flavor, and nothing gives you
a more authentic Pike County flavor than locally grown produce. The Pikeville
Farmer’s Market offers more than delicious produce, however. Scheduled for Tuesdays from 4:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. and
Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m., each event also features crafts,
demonstrations and free samples. Many of the Pikeville Farmer’s Market events also
include unique presentations, such as the Spring Fling Mother’s Day Market,
seed swaps and so much more.
8) Live Entertainment
US 23, also known as the Country Music
Highway, runs through Pike County, and along it can be found the homeplaces of
many of Country’s most prolific stars. Artists such as Loretta Lynn, Crystal
Gayle, Tom T. Hall, Billy Ray Cyrus, Patty Loveless and Dwight Yoakam all hail
from our region.
Eastern Kentucky’s talent pool is
brimming with new rising stars, which is put on display on various weekends
throughout the year, May through October. Main Street Live! is one of
Pikeville’s most popular live entertainment options, featuring a variety of
artists from an array of genres, from country to rock and roll.
Pike County also features two theatres
that showcase award-winning talent; Elkhorn City’s Artist Collaborative Theatre,
and Downtown Pikeville’s newly minted Appalachian Center for the Arts. Both
theatres offer an assortment of top quality productions throughout the year,
from beloved classics to contemporary hits, as well as shows uniquely their
Where To Stay in Pikeville/Pike County, KY
When you think of the rustic outdoors of the Appalachian Mountains, you may think of untamed adventure, unique culture and authentic experiences. What you most likely won’t be thinking of is decent lodging. Many of our visitors are surprised to learn that Pikeville-Pike County offers a wide variety of lodging to fit most any budget, which includes many well-known franchises such as the Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn and the Holiday Inn Express. Our locally owned hotels and motels also provide a great lodging experience as well. To see a full list of our lodging options, click below.
In 2018, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife produced a video and article that explores the Tug River, infamously known for being the dividing line between the feuding Hatfields and McCoys. There are many other stories to be told along the tug as well, with the river flowing to the town of Matewan, known for being the site of a labor uprising that resulted in the “Matewan Massacre”. These heart-wrenching stories are only pieces of a much broader and colorful heritage, and suit this rugged yet beautiful landscape that outdoor enthusiasts crave.
Big Fish & Rich History
Paddling the eastern borderlands in search of big fish and rich history – Written by Lee McClellan.
Click here to explore The Tug Fork’s rich history, and learn details on fishing & floating down the Tug Fork River.
WASHINGTON, DC — Tourism in Eastern Kentucky will soon get a much needed boost from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) announced today the whitewater rafting season will be extended by two weeks at the Breaks Interstate Park, which includes Kentucky’s eastern-most point in Pike County, as well as Virginia and West Virginia.
During a budget hearing in March, Rogers reminded the Army Corps and the Bureau of Reclamation about a long-standing request from local residents to extend the whitewater rafting season on the Russell Fork River by discharging water more frequently from the Flannagan Dam on the Virginia border. Since that budget hearing, through his role as Chairman Emeritus of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Congressman Rogers worked closely with the Army Corps Headquarters and Huntington District to make this action possible.
“Whitewater rafting has been a great economic boon for tourism around the Breaks Interstate Park, but the season has been cut short each year. I applaud the Army Corps for adding additional water release dates at the Flannagan Dam, which will extend the downstream whitewater rafting season into November and attract more recreational enthusiasts to our region this fall,” said Rogers. “In light of the recent downturn of our coal industry, we must capitalize on every opportunity to diversify our economy and enhance our unique tourism options in our beautiful Appalachian mountains.”
The Army Corps has scheduled weekend releases at the Flannagan Dam during the first four weeks in October and will conduct two additional “test” releases on the first two weekends of November 2018. A public scoping meeting will be held on September 27, 2018 at 6:30 pm at the Breaks Interstate Park Conference Center.
Each weekend in October, whitewater rafting is available on the Russell Fork River in beautiful Elkhorn City, Kentucky. Elkhorn City has become the go-to place for whitewater enthusiasts, outdoor adventure seekers, and kayakers of any skill level.
The Russell Fork River, which flows through Elkhorn City, offers a range of challenge levels, from the fun class II rapids to the more exhilarating class IV and higher rapids. Traverse through two beautiful states as you experience the river that kayakers all over have come to know and love. Check out Dane Jackson’s 2014 winning run on the Russell Fork:
Hotels Near the Russell Fork River
Pike County’s lodging options covers a wide variety of high quality establishments. From your favorite hotel chains such as Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express, to our unique locally owned inns such as The Landmark Inn and the Hatfield & McCoy Lodge at the Riverside, you can always expect a friendly smile and a clean and relaxing rooms at any rate. Very few locales offers a chance to experience wild beauty & nature, profound American history, unique live entertainment and also top quality lodging. In Pike County, hospitality is a way of life, so come and enjoy what we have to offer. We can’t wait to meet you!