Red River Gorge | Kentucky

Rock Climbing in the Red River Gorge

Season

Year-round, but spring and fall are best

Nearest city

Lexington, KY, is one hour away by car

Skill level

Beginner to advanced

Duration

1 day

Price range

$115-$255/person

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

Located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Red River Gorge has more than 3000 climbing routes to choose from. Known primarily for its single-pitch sport routes, there are plenty of trad options and sandstone for every grade. Climbing is spread out within the park and at three privately owned areas: Muir Valley, Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) and Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP). No trip to Red is complete without a stop at Miguel’s Pizza, the area’s de facto climbing headquarters.

The Red offers a lifetime of climbing, especially if you like steep, long, endurance routes. With grades from 5.4 to 5.14, there are options for climbers of all levels.

Aaron Gerry, Climber and 57hours contributing writer

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After one day of climbing, you’ll understand Red’s massive appeal

For die-hard world-class sport routes, head to the Motherlode and Dark Side. Standard testpieces like Thanatopsis (514b) and The Legend (5.13b) have intrigued climbers and spectators for years. There are more spread-out trad grades at Fortress Wall, Pebble Beach, and Tower Rock. The Graining Fork Nature Preserve (Roadside Crag) is home to classics like Roadside Attraction (5.7) and Five Finger Discount (5.8) — just make sure you climb with a permit! For high grades in both disciplines, spend a day at Military Wall. As always, with so many options at hand, hire a Red River Gorge climbing guide to get the most out of your adventure.

Red River Gorge's most popular climbing adventures

Private Day of Climbing

Is it your first time climbing or are you ready to make the transition from gym to crag? If you’re new to the region and want to climb some choice spots, this is the adventure 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 in Red River Gorge

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 a steller venue.

Sport Climbing

Get the most out of Red River Gorge and hone 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.

Need to know

Do you need a permit?

Climbing at the Graining Fork Nature Preserve, LLC requires a permit. You can obtain one here. Climbing in the Muir Valley Nature Preserve requires all climbers to sign a legal release, as does the Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve, the Bald Rock Recreational Preserve, and the Miller Fork Recreational Preserve. Climbing in Muir Valley requires a waiver too.

When is the best time to go?

Red River Gorge is climbable year-round, but spring and fall are best.

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, ask your Red River Gorge guiding service for more information.

Group sizes and pricing

Group sizes are small, with no more than a 1:4 guide-to-client ratio. Pricing is per person and costs decrease as the group size grows.

Is there a minimum age requirement?

We’ve found that climbers who are 6 years old and up have the most fun. Sometimes, kids younger than 6 lose interest quickly. Ask your adventure expert if you have more questions about age requirements.

Getting there

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

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