Ryan Quarles’ Bold, Adventurous Plan For Eastern Kentucky

“I’m committed to making Eastern Kentucky an international destination for outdoor adventurers. We don’t need to be like Gatlinburg to bring in tourists, we only need to highlight the gifts that God bestowed on our beautiful region.”

            Wherever you travel in Eastern Kentucky, you’re sure to see some of God’s greatest creations. From Red River Gorge to Jenny Wiley State Resort Park to Big South Fork National River, the Bluegrass State’s beauty is well established. As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, I’ve crisscrossed Appalachia enjoying these incredible destinations. Being blessed with this stunning geography shouldn’t just be something that we appreciate alone; we should invite the world to join us. They’ll come for our hunting, rock climbing, motor sports, kayaking, camping, nature walks, horse trails, and much more! There’s no other place on Earth like right here in Kentucky where peace and serenity meet rugged and untamed wilderness. 

            That’s why as Governor I will work to make Eastern Kentucky a premier location for adventure seekers, outdoorsmen and women, and hunters & anglers. I’ll do that work by starting a national and international advertising campaign to tell people all about the great things our Commonwealth offers. Kentucky is already known for our Bourbon Trail and horse racing, now it’s time to make us known for the great outdoors as well.

The work to make Kentucky a top-tier destination for adventurers is already happening as the Kentucky Mountain Regional Recreational Authority continues to find new and innovative ways to attract people to our Appalachian communities. One of the things they’re working on is the First Frontier Appalachian Trails System to support side-by-side and ATV off-roading and eventually horseback riding. With nearly 20 counties working hand-in-hand to make this happen, I’ll work with everyone to ensure the success of this project.

But it’s not just the extreme sports that we can use to promote and entice people to visit Kentucky, it’s also world-class hunting opportunities. I, like many other Kentuckians, enter the lottery to win an elk tag every year in the hopes that I can bag the big one. I also enjoy white-tail deer hunting and turkey hunting. One example of a project we should promote to people outside Kentucky is in Letcher County where they are working to develop a shooting lodge that’ll be built on abandoned mine lands. And if they’re more interested in just observing some of God’s beautiful creatures, they could visit Boone’s Ridge which will be opening next year. Recognized as a world-class bird-watching place with hundreds of species of birds, Boone’s Ridge will also offer a chance for people to check out bobcats, black bears, and more.  

Once our friends from around the world finish a day in the great outdoors, they can relax and enjoy the culture of the Appalachian community. The food has tradition and taste you won’t find anywhere else, like one of my favorites at Pine Mountain Grill in Whitesburg. Many of our local restaurants also feature Kentucky Proud products, so visitors will be able to taste Kentucky grown foods. And the music created here has inspired millions worldwide. The Osborne Brothers Hometown Festival that first Saturday in August in Hyden is a great chance to see some local bluegrass musicians. 

Beyond working to showcase the treasurers we have to the world, I’ll keep my promise to return every dime of coal severance funds to the counties in which they originated. This money was promised to these communities so they could build projects they need, and in my very first budget as Governor I’ll guarantee that happens. 

In 2021, visitors to Kentucky spent more than $7.7 billion while in the Commonwealth. With increased investments in our communities and promotion of the natural attractions we already have like a rugged landscape, robust hunting and angling opportunities, and a culture unlike any other in the world, we could see that number grow even more. It will attract more hotels, bed & breakfasts, and restaurants which will bolster our economy. 

I’m committed to making Eastern Kentucky an international destination for outdoor adventurers. We don’t need to be like Gatlinburg to bring in tourists, we only need to highlight the gifts that God bestowed on our beautiful region.






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