Dappled Light Adventures: Less Screen, More Sky

Dappled Light Adventures: Less Screen, More Sky

What began as a family’s once-in-a-lifetime real estate opportunity is now a desired destination for those seeking adventure, renewal, and connection with loved ones while surrounded by nature.

“Our mission is simply to create spaces that get people outside and offer a place for full rejuvenation,” says Izaac Rains, co-owner and operator of the 50-acre Dappled Light Adventures, located in Zoe, Kentucky. It’s just 10 to 15 minutes from Red River Gorge in the Daniel Boone National Forest.

Most people who book with Dappled Light Adventures are hiking enthusiasts. This unique retreat is also located just a few minutes from a zipline as well as an underground kayaking facility, which stays one temperature year-round.

“A lot of people will use our property as a base camp and then partake in some other nearby adventures,” Izaac says. 


One reason the family is so eager to invite others to experience Dappled Light Adventures is because they recognize the value that connecting with nature adds to one’s mental health.

“I’ve struggled with mental health issues my whole life, especially during the pandemic, but I’ve noticed that getting outside always helps,” says Izaac. “Escaping the hustle and bustle of the city, or even the virtual space, and getting into nature takes you into this flow state that allows the body, as a whole, to relax, slow down, breathe, and accept and see things for what they are.”

Proactively removing oneself from all things man-made serves to put life into perspective.

“For me, it really helps me back up and realize how beautiful the world is, and consequently helps bring my mental state up to a neutral and then very positive place,” says Izaac.


Izaac was just a little boy when his parents, Kevin and Tracy, happened upon a newspaper listing for 50 acres of land for sale near Red River Gorge. With 200-foot cliff edges on one side, and a 200-foot-waterfall extending off the property, the Rainses — a nature-loving, adventure-seeking family — decided to go for it.  

“It was too good to pass up,” says Kevin. The family of five, which includes Izaac’s sisters Zoe and Tricy, spent countless weekends camping on and exploring the property.

“It was a place for our family to reconnect with one another and spend quality time together,” Izaac recalls.

For the next 15 years, the property was reserved for just the Rains family and their close friends.

“We kept it sacred, but one of our family’s core values is hospitality, and we got to thinking that others might like to experience the same types of adventures,” says Kevin. 

He and Izaac talked about how fun it would be to open up their property for others to enjoy, and in February 2021, they launched Dappled Light Adventures.

The name came from their friend, singer/songwriter Karin Bergquist, one half of the Ohio-based folk music band “Over the Rhine.” She was on the property one day and commented how striking the dappled light was — that soft light that filters through the canopy and cascades onto the ground.


At Dappled Light Adventures, visitors can rent either a rugged bunkhouse that sleeps 7 to 10 people or a five-person cabin that stays warm in the winter. 

“Our family loves to rough it, but we recognized that some people may need an entry-level on-ramp to the outdoors, so we decided to create a fairly plush, luxurious experience,” says Kevin.

Therefore, new to the property are heavy-duty luxury tents, complete with fireplaces. These elevated “glamp sites” near cliff edges offer spectacular views of the valley below. And one site looks out across a scenic pond. 

“Because they are situated in the canopy, you feel like you’re in a modern-day treehouse,” says Kevin. “Situated 20 to 30 feet back from the cliff’s edge, you get a full view where you see nothing but trees, rocks, cliffs, and valleys.”

Even better, each one of the tents faces west so campers can enjoy the beautiful glow of nightly sunsets. Each glamping tent features comfortable queen-sized beds and waterproof hardwood floors. They also have their own fire pit and permanent charcoal grill.

“This is not what people think of when they hear the word ‘camping,’” says Kevin. 

Visitors can elect to stay in either off-grid structures or the on-the-grid Cabin or Barndominium (bunkhouse). The bathrooms for tent glampers include full utilities, washer/dryer, electricity, and instant hot water. It’s perfect for those who want to relax in nature but still enjoy some creature comforts.

“We wanted to create spaces where everyone feels comfortable getting outside,” says Izaac.

Kevin references the book “The Comfort Crisis” by Michael Easter in which the author maintains that a great deal of our physical and mental health issues could be alleviated by spending more time in nature. Easter suggests that people follow the “20-5-3” rule — Aim to spend 20 minutes a day outside taking a walk (and not looking at your phone); venture outdoors for five hours on weekends, perhaps navigating a park or longer trail; and devote three days out of the year to a longer, more adventurous foray into nature. It all boils down to spending less time staring at a screen and more time staring at the sky. 

“Over time we’ve become more sedentary as we’ve spent more time indoors. As a result, our happiness, not to mention our physical and mental health, is plummeting,” says Kevin, who is a big self-care advocate. “Taking care of ourselves is not selfish. In fact, it’s the opposite. As we care for ourselves, we’re better able to care for those around us — our spouses, kids, and work teams.”

Kevin is pleased that his family is on this mission to help others devote more time to being outdoors. With a doctorate in biblical studies, he is in tune with the desire to study sacred texts. He has learned, however, that the big book of creation is just as important as the Bible.

“It’s this idea of being immersed in creation and understanding that, as important as it is to have your nose buried in a sacred text, when I get my nose in the big book, I have a greater sense of God’s grandeur,” he says.

This philosophy is part of the reason why the Rainses regularly host father/son weekend retreats, which include two days of off-grid camping and off-road riding to encourage bonding. At their last father-son retreat, 10-year-old Elijah gleefully declared after getting splattered with mud during four-wheeling that it was the best day of his life. It was the kind of testimonial the Rainses love.

“Izaac and I have effectively figured out how to pass down this experience we’ve shared for 25 years,” says Kevin. “That’s a great feeling.”

And it’s not just about mud-splattering fun. People of all ages find something at Dappled Light Adventures to refresh them. For some, it’s solace. For others, it’s healing or connection. A woman named Lyndsey, who recently stayed in the cabin, shares in a review, “It was fun and exciting for my family to prepare and enjoy meals together by lantern light and huddle together for game nights.”

Izaac says Lyndsey’s reflection brought him back to his own happy childhood and that cozy feeling of bunking in a 500-square-foot cabin with his family to cook, play games, and connect, with no outside stimuli other than the nature around them.

Dappled Light Adventures plans to start offering monthly corporate retreats and regular parent/child retreats in 2023.

“I love to hear that others are rejuvenated and having fun connecting or reconnecting with the people who are there with them,” Izaac says.

Do you desire to escape into the Great Outdoors to revive your mind, body, and soul? Visit dappledlightadventures.com, email dappledlighthouse@gmail.com, or find them on Facebook @dappledlightadventures.

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