Red River Gorge | Kentucky

Rock Climbing in Red River Gorge

Season

Spring and fall are best for climbing in RRG

Nearest city

Lexington, KY, is a one-hour drive away

Duration

Half day – 2 days

Skill level

Beginner to advanced

Climb some of the best single-pitch routes in the country

Located in some of the most wild terrain west of the Appalachian Mountains, the Red River Gorge has more than 3,000 climbing routes. 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 “the Red’s” diverse offerings, guides are helpful to find the ideal routes for your skill level.

Most Popular Itineraries

A Customized Full Day of Climbing With a Private Guide

from $115 per person · Full day

The RRG has so many climbing locations to choose from that a day out 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.

A Customized Half Day of Climbing With a Private Guide

From $85 per person · Half day

Don’t have a full day to commit to climbing in the Red? A half-day with a private guide will give you a great taste of what the area 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.

Advanced Sport Climbing Course

From $100 per person · Full day

Hone your lead sport climbing skills at scenic Red River Gorge. During this two-day course, you’ll work on lead climbing, lead belaying, cleaning top rope anchor and proper gear placement. If you can climb a 5.6 and up, expect to master clean, effective ropework while debunking some common myths about climbing equipment.

Multi-Pitch Lead Climbing Course

From $100 per person · Full day

Learn all the necessary techniques for ascending and descending steep, challenging mountains. The number one skill you’ll gain is transitioning from leader, to belaying the second, and back to leader — and quickly. Additional skills include anchor considerations in multi-pitch terrain, belay station management and dealing with terrain problems such as traverses or roofs. Previous climbing experience is necessary for this course.

Safety Skills and Self Rescue Clinic

From $380 per person · 2 days

Can you top rope 5.6 climbs comfortably? Do you have experience rappelling and can tie basic knots? If so, level up your skills with this course and learn how to reduce risks when climbing and obtain strategies if the unexpected happens. After completing your self-rescue lessons, you’ll have a good grasp on the physics of raising systems and know just what to do if someone is injured in a multi-pitch environment.

Things you need to know

Why should I book with 57hours?

With us, it’s all play and no work for you! 57hours is an open platform that connects you with trained and certified outdoor adventure professionals all over the world. Using our tech-savvy, we make it super easy to find and book adventures worth tackling, with guides worth booking, all gathered from the first-hand experiences of the locals who adventure in these amazing locations.

Why should I go rock climbing?

Rock climbing is more than just a sport; it’s problem solving on-the-go. It’s a balance of intuition and fluidity of movement. The fun comes from the possibilities — each route with a variety of options and only a fraction of them leading to success. When you finally master a climb, after hours of practice, it transcends mere sport and is akin to art.

What’s included?

This is what you get:

  • An experienced, local rock climbing guide with extensive knowledge of the area
  • A four to eight-hour rock climbing lesson per day, depending on the chosen itinerary
  • All technical climbing gear

Technical gear list

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:

  • Helmet
  • 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)
  • Ropes
  • Climbing hardware (quickdraws, cam devices, stoppers, etc.)

What do I need to bring?

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.)
  • Sunglasses
  • 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.

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.

What does a typical day look like?

  • 9:00 am: Meeting with the guide and checking over your gear
  • 9:30 am: Spend the day climbing or learning techniques (based on your chosen itinerary)
  • 12:30 pm – 1:00 pm: Lunch (bring snacks and plenty of water)
  • 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Keep climbing!
  • 5:00 pm: End the day with invaluable techniques and a slew of memories

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 is the minimum age requirement?

  • If you are older than 18y, you’re good to go.
  • Minors and kids from 6-17 years old can easily go out and try climbing, but only in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

What about group sizes and pricing?

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 could 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.

What about bad weather?

As the saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad preparation,” and you can expect your guides to be fully prepared for anything. Inclement weather can always get in the way of climbing, but your guide will know the best spots to move to if the weather takes a turn.

On the rare occasion of truly bad weather, your instructor will present you with suitable alternatives. The most common practice is to reschedule your climbing to a more favorable day or suitable location nearby, if it exists.

If no options presented were viable to you, you will be issued a full refund.

Cancelation policy

All policies regarding cancellation, rescheduling and trip insurance will be clearly laid out by your guide prior to booking your adventure. Contact us if you’d like more information on a specific adventure.

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.

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