Today, nestled just off Interstate 75, about 2 ½ hours from Indianapolis in rural Kentucky, visitors can take a stroll through a life size Noah’s Ark, built closely to the description found in the Bible. The Ark Encounter is a staggering 125,000 square feet, with a structure full of wooden decks, ramps, animal cages and large bays that depict how life would have been on the giant ship.

Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis which built the ark, stated that “We want to sweep guests away from the hustle and bustle of modern life and bring them to a large hill where the Ark dominates the landscape.”

A huge 4,000 space parking lot stands ready to accommodate the thousands of guests who are ready to visit the Ark Encounter. News of its grand opening in the summer of 2016 is still getting out, as people from all over the world are slowly learning about its existence.

The Ark stands stately on a large hill near a small lake. Its length measures a staggering 510 feet and it can accommodate up to 16,000 guests per day.

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As visitors make their way over ramps from level to level inside the boat, they are quick to notice oil burning lamps or torches along the walkways. Animal displays feature replicas of ancestors of modern day animals, which were more accurate to the animals mentioned in the Bible. Animals are life like and depict sounds that were typical of those creatures. Some animals found in the Ark are alive and are cared for by zoologists who share information on the creatures to all interested guests.

Inside, figures representing Noah and his family are clothed in ancient-style clothing. Pottery similar to that found centuries ago is displayed to show what they might have had on the Ark to hold foods, grains, and other essentials.

Plants grow in containers and animal food is packed away in grain sacks. Handmade watering bottles are tied to the cages of the smaller animals, indicating how Noah managed to keep all of the animals fed and watered.

Located outdoors is the Ararat Ridge Zoo which holds exotic animals such as Tibetan yaks, emus and ostriches. Families can meander throughout the zoo to catch a glimpse of zebras or ride on a donkey or camel. Plans are to increase the size of the zoo in the near future.

Also on the grounds is a Screaming Eagle zip line attraction which allows guests to reach speeds of 50 miles per hour and a height of 17 stories while navigating through the aerial adventure course.

When the hunger pains hit and a break is needed, visitors can relax and enjoy a great view of the facility from Emzara’s Kitchen, named after Noah’s wife, located outside the Ark near the bow end. A four-line buffet offers scores of favorites and some specialty foods.

As the visit ends and visitors battle through the fatigue from a busy day, one last stop remains on the premises for those who love to shop. On the ground level is a massive gift shop that offers shirts, handmade baskets, arks and stuffed animals to those looking for something to take back home. Pottery and basket shops sell items that are indicative of those available thousands of years ago.

Catching the bus back to the parking lot is last on the long list of things to do. Relaxing on the air conditioned bus as it heads slowly back to awaiting cars couldn’t be any more appreciated.

Carol Edwards is retired after a 30-year career teaching elementary school students at at Greenwood schools. Send column ideas to newstips@dailyjournal.net.

At a glance

The Ark Encounter

What: A full-size Noah’s Ark, built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. Other attractions include a zoo and ziplines.

Where: 1 Ark Encounter Drive, Williamstown, Kentucky

Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $40 for adults, $31 for seniors age 60 and older, $28 for children ages 5 to 12, free for children under 5.

Information: arkencounter.com

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.