Our family vacation this year was a 6 day adventure trip around Kentucky. One of our choices for an adventure was outdoor rock climbing at the “Red”. My husband, daughter (11 y/o) and myself have rock climbed indoors for a few years but wanted to experience real rock. We only had a half a day to climb and now wish that we set aside more time because it was simply an amazing experience. We hired a guide through RRO and he took us to a great spot. We had to hike uphill for about 10 minutes but this was a great warm up for the climbing. He did a great job balancing the different climbing levels and was great in getting our daughter to finish an entire route even though she was getting scared. Booking the trip with RRO was easy, the location was easy to find, and we even walked away with a zucchini and a squash from the owner himself. Great guide, great company.
Top three reasons to go rock climbing in Red River Gorge
Climb some of the best single-pitch routes in the country
Over 3,000 routes across nearly 100 cliffs with grades from 5.4 to 5.14
Perfect, sweeping well-bolted sport climbs on friendly stone
Located in some of the wildest terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains, the Red River Gorge has more than 3,000 climbing routes and is known as one of the best climbing spots in the USA. Known primarily for its single-pitch sport routes, you’ll also encounter plenty of trad options and sandstone for every grade. Climbing is spread out across a few massive, biodiverse areas including the Daniel Boone National Forest, Muir Valley, Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve, and Miller Fork Recreational Preserve. Due to Red River Gorge’s diverse offerings, guides are helpful to find the ideal routes for your skill level. If you want to learn more, find out why the Red River Gorge is also known as the sport climbing mecca of the East from Aaron Gerry — avid climber, adventurer and traveler.
Spring and fall are best for climbing in RRG
Lexington, KY, is a one-hour drive away
Beginner to advanced
Choose how you spend your day
Half-Day of Climbing With a Private Guide
Don’t have a full day to commit to climbing in RRG? A half-day guided rock climbing trip will give you a great taste of what Red River Gorge has to offer. Serious climbers can hone their skills in a short amount of time. Beginners will get individualized attention for their introduction to rock climbing. Come one, come all — no matter your skill level.
A Customized Day of Climbing With a Private Guide
The Red River Gorge has so many climbing locations to choose from that a day tour with a private guide is the best way to make the most of this area. All levels of experience are welcome. Whether it’s your first time climbing or you’re making the transition from gym to crag, your guide will ensure you’re well-equipped on the ground before a full day of climbing on the rocks. If you’re more advanced, your guide will work with you to create an outing best tailored to your goals.
Intro to Trad Climbing Course
Test your traditional climbing skills at scenic Red River Gorge and learn about gear, standard rack, cams, and nuts. Review proper belay, tie-ins, rappelling, double checks, and climbing techniques such smearing, edging, or palm press. By the end of the day, you will pick up on how to easily build an anchor and do mock leads, all while learning from an experienced guide by your side!
Gym to Crag Transition Class
If you are climbing outdoors for the first time, then this is the perfect choice for you! We will help you make that transition to the crags with confidence. The focus is on safety, cleaning bolt anchors, rappelling, being lowered, belaying and leading theory.
Meet your guides
Red River Climbing GuidesRed River Climbing Guides
Red River Climbing Guides
Bluegrass Climbing SchoolBluegrass Climbing School
Bluegrass Climbing School
The Climbing Guide was actually Ian Oddo (I suppose he works for Matt Kiroff), but we had a great time with him. He\’s a great guide and is very knowledgeable of climbing and is also very personable.
A lot of fun. Super knowledge. A great time. Will do it again with them!
Matt was incredibly patient and a great guide—loved our experience!
We had limited time but our instructor was great.
She took the time to teach and show us all at different levels of experience what to do.
I had a 7 year old with me and trust me, she was happy with the experience.
This was our 5th guided day or 1/2 day with RRO- their guides are safe, experienced, and will customize your session to your specific needs whether it be beginning rock climbing or high end lead instruction on steep rock. This paticular trip, we need a guide to help put up 5.11’s and advise on lead. With the gudes help, we were able to send some classics and use that experience to put up a few more on our own later in the week.
Guided climbs also allow for an analysis of your skills and access to pointers on strategies for improvement. This trip was no exception and we were very pleased with what we learned.
One additional benefit to RRO guides is access to private areas or less known crags to avoid the crowds.
Our half-day climb in the Muir Valley worked out seamlessly. We were provided with all the gear and instructions we needed. Leor was a patient and helpful guide for our family. Thank you for a great day of challenges and laughs!
Things to know
Covid measures in Red River Gorge
57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity.
We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, guides and the communities they’re travelling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in Red River Gorge, please refer to the Kentucky Public Health website.
Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!
What you get on this adventure:
- An experienced, local rock climbing guide with extensive knowledge of the area
- Four to eight hours of rock climbing per day, depending on the chosen itinerary
- All technical climbing gear
- Meals and snacks
- Personal equipment
How fit do I need to be?
If you can climb a ladder, you’re good to go. Being in good shape is always a plus, but far from necessary. Rock climbing is all about using good movement technique rather than muscling up a cliff using brute strength. So don’t let your perceived lack of strength keep you away from rock climbing — you’ve got what it takes.
What if I’ve never climbed before?
No prior experience is necessary. Whether you’ve never donned a harness or you’re a seasoned climber, a guide will help you meet your individual objectives. Above all, your instructor’s number one priority is your safety. As long as you listen to the given instructions, you’ll succeed in completing your climb.
Red River Gorge has plenty of options for beginner climbers. Whether you’ve never climbed before or are transitioning from the gym to outdoor climbing, your guide will customize the day to suit your skill level and objectives. With a guide by your side, you’ll learn something new, stay safe on the rocks, and most importantly, have fun!
For intermediate to advanced climbers, the Red River Gorge has loads of routes to spend the day on. Your guide will discuss your objectives and customize the day to your goals. Let your guide plan the day so you can focus on developing your skills while climbing the classic routes or best hidden gems the area has to offer.
What about required equipment?
All technical climbing equipment will be provided by your guiding service. However, if you have your own gear, feel free to bring it. You’ll need:
- Harness with a locking carabiner, belay device, and chalk bag
- Rock shoes* (included in the price, but we recommend bringing your own if you have them)
- Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)
Here’s a list of the equipment we suggest you bring:
- Day pack large enough to carry all the items listed (around a 40L bag)
- Water bottle
- Food you can eat on-the-go
- Toiletries (sunscreen, bug spray, toilet paper, etc.)
- Camera — optional
Dress comfortably and for the weather in clothes you can move in. We suggest bringing clothing appropriate for the season. Layers are best and don’t wear jeans.
Group sizes and age requirements
Group sizes and prices:
- Group sizes are usually between 1–4 people with one guide, but you can also go with a larger group of up to 6 people per guide.
- Costs per person decrease as the group grows for private tours, so it’s the perfect opportunity to climb with friends and family.
- Climbing days can be arranged for bigger groups. Contact us prior to booking.
Min. age requirements:
- If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.
- Climbers as young as 4 may be permitted to climb on a case-by-case basis. A parent or a guardian will need to provide a signed waiver and accompany the minor on the tour. Children should weight at least 50 lbs (23 kg) to take part in climbing.
If your group has climbers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.
Getting there and meeting location
Slade, the closest town to Red River Gorge, is about an hour’s drive from Lexington, KY, two hours from Louisville, and two hours from Cincinnati, OH.
There is no direct connection via public transportation to Red River Gorge. You can, however, take the bus to Lexington, then drive to Red River Gorge. You’ll need to make your way to the Slade Rest Area. This is the best place to collect yourself, meet up with any friends that might be driving separate, and prepare yourself for your adventures.
The meeting point is usually at the Muir Valley parking pavilion. Climbing in the Red River Gorge is spread over a large geographic area, and the exact climbing spot will be discussed after the booking. Guides make location decisions after considering the skill level of the group and factors such as crag traffic and weather.