Red River Gorge | Kentucky

Rock Climbing in the Red River Gorge

Skill level

All skill levels welcome!

Group size

1 – 5 / private lessons are available

Price range

$180 – $255 per person


Year round, but spring and fall are best!


1 day

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There’s nothing like a day of climbing fueled by Miguel’s

Whether you climb sport or trad, Red River Gorge is worth the trip

Located in the northern section of the Daniel Boone National Forest, is the Red River Gorge climbing area. Known primarily for its single pitch sport routes, the Red has plenty of trad options too. Climbing in the area is spread out within the park as well as three different privately owned areas, Muir Valley, Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) and Miller Fork Recreational Preserve, the latter two of which are managed by the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition. No matter where you decide to climb, there’s plenty of Red sandstone for every level of climber. Another must for when visiting the area, is eating Miguel’s Pizza, the de facto climbing headquarters. They also make an awesome pie.

There’s fewer climbing areas this side of the Mississippi with the diversity of Red’s trad and sport routes.

After just a day of climbing, you’ll understand Red’s broad appeal

For die-hard world-class sport routes, the area has several areas like the Motherlode and Dark Side, both of which cater to the seasoned climber. Old standard testpieces like Thanatopsis (514b) and The Legend (5.13b) have intrigued climbers and spectators for years. But highly graded sport routes aren’t the only game in town. There’s even more spread-out trad grades waiting to be climbed at Fortress Wall, Pebble Beach and Tower Rock. The Graining Fork Nature Preserve (Roadside Crag) is home to classic trad routes like Roadside Attraction (5.7) and Five Finger Discount (5.8) — just make sure you do the right thing and climb with a permit! Looking for high grades for both disciplines of climbing? Spend a day at Military Wall to get your fix. As always, with so many options at hand, hire a guide to make the most out of your time climbing.

Popular videos

Most popular packages and classes in the Red River Gorge

Sport Climbing

Get the most of Red River Gorge and hone and refine your lead sport climbing skills. Previous experience is a must. During your day at the Red, you’ll work on lead climbing, lead belaying, anchors, cleaning anchors, rappelling, lowering and stick clipping — you’ll work on all the skills needed to bring you climbing game up a notch in a premier sport climbing location.

Guided Rock Climbing

Never climbed before or have are you ready to make the transition from gym to crag? Maybe you’re new to the region and want to climb some choice spots while visiting. This is the program for you. All levels of experience are welcome, just let your guide know what you’re looking for and the outing will be tailored to your needs.

Beginner Rock Climbing at the Red River Gorge Rock

Whether you just learned what a crag is or if you climb 5.12 in a gym, partner with an AMGA certified instructor and discover the wonderful world of outdoor rock climbing at steller venue, the Red River Gorge.

Who should climb at Red River Gorge

Even though some of the routes have old school grades, there’s crags for all levels of climber, so everyone should climb here at least once. The Red’s sandstone and setting are worth the journey alone.

Need to know

When is the best time to go?

Red River Gorge is climbable year round, but, generally spring and fall are ideal. It can get very muggy in the summer, but that doesn’t deter too many people. While winters can get cold, there is good climbing to be had, but Miguel’s shuts down for the season, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for food.

What about bad weather?

Inclement weather can always get in the way of climbing, but your guide will know the best spots to move to if and when it rains. If in doubt, though, always ask your guiding service for more information.

What's a typical itinerary?

Usually you’ll meet up with your guide, go over gear and beta, and then plan on what routes you want to ascend, or what techniques you want to focus on most, depending on your skill level and course.

What about group sizes?

Group sizes are usually between 1 – 5 people with one instructor. Also, remember that the costs decrease as the group grows, so it’s the perfect opportunity to surf with friends and family.

Getting there

Red River Gorge is about an hour drive from Lexington, KY, two hours from Louisville, and two hours from Cincinnati, OH.

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