Ark Encounter and Onyx Cave

A few weekends ago, we grew tired of staring at the same four walls. On the Friday after work, we mapped out a route to visit the Ark Encounter in Kentucky, and headed out late Saturday morning. (We were actually supposed to be on vacation at Universal Orlando, but at the very last minute decided to cancel. After much debate, we determined we weren’t confident enough in our muggle magic to face Florida’s continued spike in cases head on. Sigh!)

Why Ark Encounter? It was fairly close by for an overnight trip. We didn’t expect massive crowds. And we were curious to see this Bible story brought to life.

Seemingly fitting, it stormed the entire five hour drive! Then a few minutes before we arrived, the rain held. On the bus drive from the parking lot, we saw a lone deer grazing. No rainbow though.

The massive size of the ark is breathtaking. Built according to the dimensions given in the Bible, it is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high, and is the largest timber frame structure in the world. It is a true marvel of engineering, which alone makes the visit worth it. And the grounds – they are immaculately maintained! I kept stopping to admire groups of plantings. Stinky, who is rarely impressed, liked it enough to pose for a family photo. This is high, pre-teen praise, y’all!

On the inside, there are three decks of exhibits. Some creative liberties were taken, and this are pointed out upfront. The developers’ intention is to show what life was like on the ark was like and considerable time is spent going through the working aspects: storing food, storing and caring for animals, cleaning processes, work and living quarters, a plant nursery to sustain life after the ark, etc. But of course the primary agenda is to spotlight Christianity and prove that Noah’s Ark existed.

There is a lot of signage which goes into greater detail about the processes, and theories supporting the ark’s exhibits. Multiple theaters play Biblical clips on rotation. The kids particularly liked examining the ark model and posing in front of The Door. We appreciated that the developers clearly denounce racism in one of the exhibits.

While we very much enjoyed the experience, we took issue with a few things:

i. It was {subtly} suggested that life may not have originated in Africa. I think this plays into the idea that tries to promote life originated in Europe.

ii. There were dinosaurs everywhere on the ark and they were voracious in their supporting theories.

I do not wish to start a science vs. religion debate. Rather, this is something to be aware of if you plan to visit.

The weather held just long enough for us to enjoy a fast-food meal from Noah’s Village. But on the way out, it began to pour again. It’s like the powers that be wanted us to have the full ark experience. Ha!

There are a lot of areas on the grounds we didn’t get to visit due to weather or partial closures: Screaming Eagle Ziplines, and Ararat Ridge Zoo primarily. While a second visit isn’t high on the agenda, I think a Christmastime visit would be lovely!

Before heading back home, we attempted to make a detour to Mammoth Cave, on the national park registry. But tours were booked a solid week in advance. (That national passport stamp will have to wait!) Instead, we toured Onyx Cave just outside Mammoth Cave National Park. We learned about the cave’s accidental discovery, and saw unique flowstones and coral rock onyx formations, including a 38′ column that was more than 200,000 years old!

Now that we’re Tennessee-based, I’m excited to explore more of Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio. With more advanced planning of course. The must-see list is growing!

As a full-service travel agent, I would love to be of assistance to you. I am passionate about what I do and pour that energy into crafting perfectly planned itineraries for you. Email to learn more.

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