BANDY CREEK — Join a special Paddle with a Ranger adventure on the Big South Fork River on Friday, August 17, at 10 a.m. Park rangers will meet participants at Blue Heron boat ramp for a five-mile, half-day float to Yamacraw Bridge.  Blue Heron is at the end of Ky. Rt. 742.  Expect class Is and IIs on this stretch of water.  Equipment and shuttles are not provided; however, Sheltowee Trace Outfitters ( is a permitted outfitter with the National Park Service (NPS) and can provide both.

Bring water, snacks, lunch, and sun screen, and wear boating or tennis shoes. No flip flops are allowed. Participants are strongly encouraged not to bring valuables due to the strong possibility that you may get wet. 

Big South Fork NRRA will present a dark sky program on Saturday, August 18, at 9:30 p.m.  Paul Lewis of University of Tennessee, along with amateur astronomy enthusiasts from across the region, will be here to find and describe the most fascinating stellar objects to look for in the night sky.  Telescopes will be set up for sky observations.  Both these events are being held at the Bandy Creek Visitor Center parking area. This program is worth five Go Big Challenge points.  Escape artificial lighting and experience true beauty when you Go Big at night.

You may want to bring a blanket or chair for comfortable seating.  In the event of inclement weather, an alternative dark skies program will be presented in the Interpretation and Education building located next to the Bandy Creek Visitor Center.  

Earn points towards your 2018 Go Big patch by joining a park ranger on a one hour guided hike to one of the most interesting sandstone arches in the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Split Bow. The hike begins at 10 a.m., August 19, at the Bear Creek Overlook Trailhead.  From Stearns, Ky., take Highway 742 (Mine 18 Road) and turn left onto Bear Creek Road (Ross Road).  Take a slight right onto Tappley Ridge Road.  Follow signs for Bear Creek overlook.

Ghost train scheduled: September is a great time to bring the family to Blue Heron for traditional storytelling at the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area September 8 for the annual Big South Fork Ghost Train at the Blue Heron outdoor museum. National Park Service staff and volunteers will lead groups of visitors in the darkness of night by only the flickers of lanterns to local storytellers. They, through the age-old tradition of the spoken word, will share their traditional tales from around the region with you. 

Visitors have the option of either descending to this abandoned coal-mining camp by rail or road. The Big South Fork train departs from Stearns Depot at 7 p.m. (ET) and heads down into the gorge and then eventually the Blue Heron outdoor museum. For information on riding the train, contact the Big South Fork Scenic Railway at (800) 462-5664 or visit their website at While this event is free, there is a fee to ride this round-trip train excursion and reservations are recommended. 

Those wishing to attend via car can drive to Blue Heron. Follow the directional signs from Stearns via Kentucky highways 92W and 1651S to 742W.  There will be live music at Blue Heron before the Ghost Train arrives starting at 6:30 p.m. Blue Heron is located approximately 12 miles from Stearns, Ky., at the end of Highway 742W. Free parking is available. Refreshments and food will be available for purchase at the concession stand.