RUSH, Ky. – An idea from a local off-road club in northeastern Kentucky has turned into one of the world’s premier off-road experiences.
Rush Off-Road is a 7,000-acre tract of land in Boyd and Carter counties that provide off-road enthusiasts more than 100 miles of trails and breathtaking views of Appalachia Kentucky.
E.B. Lowman, owner of Rush Off-Road, said the concept of the trails was “an idea to address a need of a local group of people who loved to foo road.” It has evolved from a hidden gem to an experience atop the list of thrill-seekers.
Rush opened in 2012 selling permits to mostly local and regional riders. The secret got out as time evolved. Last year, the business had more than 40,000 visitors representing 48 states and countries such as Mexico, Canada, Iceland, England, France, and Australia.
Why are the trails so popular?
“It’s the complete package we aim to provide,” said Lowman. “It is the quality and variety of our trails. We have trails for everyone from beginners to intermediate, and advanced riders. We also believe that the trails complement those who love the outdoors. We are in close proximity to great state parks, lakes, the Ohio River, as well as great hiking, and caves.”
Lowman believes that tourism is a real possibility for Appalachia Kentucky. One of the goals laid out by Shaping Our Appalachian Region, Inc. (SOAR’s) Regional Blueprint is making Appalachia Kentucky a destination. Lowman said tourism can be a real game-changer, especially when you combined assets such as state parks and other publicly-owned attractions with private endeavors like Rush Off-Road.
“The more options and opportunities we create for visitors, the closer we become to being a destination and not a day trip,” said Lowman.
Some of the biggest challenges facing Lowman and his plans to grow his business is connectivity. He currently purchases satellite internet at the trail office to keep up with the demands of requests and permits sold online.
“The promotion of our business and our trails is done primarily online,” added Lowman. “We have to be connected as a business to remain relevant.”
Lowman is hopeful that the Kentucky Wired project will bring world-class connectivity to his business. While the immediate need is to connect with consumers, the long-term goal is to have the connectivity to help spur additional growth in and around the trails.
“As we continue to grow, we are going to have to look at additional ways to serve our customers,” said Lowman. “This could include lodging and dining options, and possibly even wi-fi hot spots along the trails.”
Lowman said organizations like SOAR must continue to advocate for connectivity and the idea that Appalachia Kentucky can indeed become a destination.
“The creation of a destination will bring new investments into our region and provide employment, but it will also provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to create and grow businesses around tourism,” he said. “I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to embark on this journey on the front end, but I believe we have so much potential as a region when it comes to tourism.”