Rocky Fork Gorge is a State Nature Preserve that protects land within the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, a nature preserve owned and managed by the non-profit the Arc of Appalachia preserve system.
The Rocky Fork Gorge is known for its outstanding geological features, high botanical diversity, and having one-of Ohio’s most significant concentrations of solution caves. It is conjectured that the caves were once part of a much larger cave system that partially collapsed, its side channels now separated by considerable erosion.
The region’s high botanical diversity is due to its location at the juncture of three physiographic regions. To the east is the unglaciated Appalachian plateau, to the north and west is the glaciated till plains, and to the south the Kentucky bluegrass region. The vertical dolomite walls of the Rocky Fork Gorge rise as high as 100 feet above the stream bed, shading a cool narrow canyon. Signature plant species include wall rue, and smooth cliff brake ferns, columbine, wild hydrangea, miterwort, grass-of-Parnassus, Kalm’s Lobelia, barren-strawberry, Walter’s violet, snow trillium and Sullivantia.