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What Did Noah’s Ark Look Like? This Immersive Replica Lets You See for Yourself
The Ark Encounter is located in Williamstown, Ky. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)
Many children and adults are familiar with the story of Noah, whom God tasked to build an ark to save his family and preserve animal species that would have been wiped out in the ensuing flood. This story lives on in our imaginations as we try to picture how Noah was able to squeeze all those animals in, feed them, give them drinking water, and see to their well-being for more than a year—not to mention take care of his own human family. These pending questions may be answered now that Williamstown in northern Kentucky hosts the world’s only life-sized replica of the famed biblical ark.

How It Started

A Christian group called Answers in Genesis seeks to provide answers to questions about Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. The story of Noah’s Ark is one of the more popular stories from this book (and one that raises a lot of questions). Hence, the Ark Encounter was created. More than 1 million visitors per year have passed through its cavernous interiors since it opened in July 2016.

At a cost of $150 million, the project stayed as close as possible to the build specifications described in Scripture. It is currently the “world’s largest freestanding timber-frame structure,” according to the World Record Academy, standing more than 50 feet tall and 510 feet long. That translates to three levels, each the size of one and a half football fields. That is how much room Noah and his family had to house the animals and store food and water for the flood.
The ark measures 510 feet long and more than 50 feet tall. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)

What to Expect

The exterior is a great photo opportunity for visitors, as the grand scale of the ark is clearly visible. Inside, ramps lead up and down to each level. A stroller will come in very handy for those with little ones, and there is elevator access if needed. Visitors can read explanations of how Noah and his family would take care of the animals: where they lived, where their waste went, and where they stored their food. There are three decks full of things to see, read, and do.

Animal replicas can be found at various points of the ark, and visitors can also see an approximation of what Noah and his family’s living quarters might have looked like. Find out how they lived within the confines of the ark among all the animals they cared for.

An intricate mural on display. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)
A replica of Noah working inside the ship. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)
The ship is made of timber and is the world’s largest freestanding timber-frame structure. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)

Surprisingly, dinosaurs can be found on display. Although dinosaurs’ coexistence with humans is debated, visitors can read the explanation given by Answers in Genesis on this topic.

If the little ones get too squirmy, the outdoor area provides a great place for younger guests to work out their wiggles. Visitors can pet farm animals at the Children’s Zoo and learn about animals from all over the world at the Ararat Ridge Zoo. These exhibits are included with Ark Encounter tickets.

Animal replicas are displayed throughout the ship. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)
Visitors can interact with real-life animals at zoo exhibits nearby. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)

Children will be engaged with the animal shows, outdoor animal encounters, and chats with the zookeeper, while the kangaroo walkabout lets visitors get up close with the zoo’s resident red marsupial. You may opt to go on a camel ride for an extra fee, and new this year is a behind-the-scenes “Sloth Experience” that allows visitors to meet, feed, and find out more about Felix the sloth.

Before leaving the ark grounds, let the kids blow off steam at the family playground. It’s wheelchair-accessible and designed to be fully accessible to everyone, including children with disabilities. For an extra fee, the zip line is available for older children and adults. It provides a great bird’s eye view of the ark and the grounds.

But Wait, There’s More

If you want to know more about the creation account from the book of Genesis, visit the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, a little more than 40 miles north of the Ark Encounter. The earth’s history is told through its many dioramas and more than 140 state-of-the-art exhibits, and, depending on your pace, you can easily spend a day at each of these sites. Exhibits on the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, and the wonders of life in the womb; a 4D-special effects theater; and an “insectorium” are more ways to experience the wonder of God’s creation.

A 45-minute drive to the north of the Ark Encounter takes visitors to the Creation Museum. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)
A 45-minute drive to the north of the Ark Encounter takes visitors to the Creation Museum. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)
Inside, a display compares what is in archaeological records and what is written in the Bible. (Courtesy of Answers in Genesis)

Good to Know

Kids up to 10 years old can enter both the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum for free, with no limit to the number of children. This is great news for big families. Both sites will be open daily during the summer.

Outside food and drinks are not allowed, but there are plenty of dining options at the Ark Encounter, including a buffet, grilled food, a smokehouse, coffee and ice cream shops, and a candy store.

For the best value, buying combo tickets to both sites online could save you nearly $10 per ticket.

You don’t have to be of the same theological mindset as Answers in Genesis to enjoy the visit. It is a great reimagining of one of the Bible’s beloved tales that both young and old will remember for years to come.

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