Who wants to sleep 50 feet above the forest floor in a rad tree house in the Red River Gorge? You do.
Does a person ever get used to waking up 50 feet off the ground? Let's hope not.
The morning after the Kentucky for Kentucky crew spent a night at The Observatory, an epic three-tiered tree house perched high on a ridgeline in the Red River Gorge, is was an incredible feeling to crack open an eye and suddenly remember where we were. The sun was just starting to bathe the valley below in golden light; birds and squirrels chattered in the branches all around; and it felt like we had the whole forest to ourselves.
Django Kroner built The Observatory—along with another tree house called Sylvan Float—just so people could share this awesome experience. Both are available to rent, and he's working on a third that should be completed by fall.
Django moved to the Red River Gorge in 2009 to rock climb. He started out in a tent, but soon grew tired of living in the dirt, he says, so he set his sights higher. The youngest of four siblings, Django became an expert tree climber at an early age, as hiding out in trees was the only way that he could escape the wrath of his older brothers. "They would come looking to beat me up," he says. "I'd try running but they were faster than me, but they weren't very good at climbing trees. That was the only way I could escape and have a sanctuary of my own."
As an adult, Django built himself a tree-top sanctuary in the Gorge on a friend's property. He ended up living in his tree house full-time for three years. "It became real normal for me," he says. "But I would have friends over and they would be in awe. I loved bringing people up and sharing the canopy with them for a night."
Many nights, Django would lay awake dreaming up new designs and ideas for his tree house. He soon decided to start a company, called the Canopy Crew, and build custom tree houses for others, as well as craft epic tree houses in the Gorge that people could rent. He purchased a parcel of land from his friend, who runs Red River Gorgeous cabin rentals, and set to work.
"It's completely protected and you have virtually no neighbors, "Django says of the property. "It's so pretty, and one of the only spots where you have private property that's actually in the geological area."
Sylvan Float is cozy perch designed to accommodate two people, and is the more accessible of the two tree houses. The Observatory is a more adventurous two-bedroom option, and is reached via a series of staircases and ladders. Both tree houses are completely off the grid, with solar power, gravity-fed water systems, gas heat and composting toilets.
Ready for an epic tree house adventure of your own? Check out the video below and visit thecanopycrew.com/tree-house-rentals to reserve your stay.
Video by Erick Moore. Photos by Savanna Barnett and Erick Moore.