19.4 miles (31.22 km) of the Red River is designated a federal Wild and Scenic River. It is the only Wild and Scenic River in Kentucky. The Red River provides a great paddling experience for both beginners and experts.
Most visitors prefer to float downstream from the Copperas Creek Canoe launch, located near the Osborne Bend trailhead parking lot. This mostly class I section is great for beginners, but also provides enough sandbars, riffles, and small ledges to make paddling interesting for everyone. This 10.5 mile (16.89 km) section takes about 6 hours to complete and averages 55°F-60°F (12.7°C-15.5°C) water temperature in April. The Wild and Scenic River designation ends at the Schoolhouse Branch confluence.
The upper Red River is a 10.8-mile (17.38 km) section that is considered one of the most challenging stretches of whitewater in the southeastern United States. Beginning at the Big Branch Canoe Launch near KY 746, the river twists through a series of Class III rapids. During high water, this section is very dangerous. Due to the remote location within the Clifty Wilderness, rescues and walk-outs are exceedingly difficult. The upper Red River should only be attempted by expert paddlers. The entire run takes about 6 hours.