Red River Gorge - Climbing

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This is it. This is THE premier American destination for sport climbing.

Written by

Spenser Tang-Smith


0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

129.7 miles


4 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

1 days

One or more days.


All Seasons

Best in the fall and spring.

Dog Friendly


Fees Permits




This is it. This is THE American destination for sport climbing. Some New River Gorge folks might argue otherwise, and for pure climbing, they have a strong case. But the Red, with its centralized camping and slightly-less-remote location, makes it a very popular destination. And even though its reputation involves long, steep, pre-hung sport lines, there is also a lifetime’s worth of trad climbing to be had here. 

What Makes It Great

Located an hour’s drive from Lexington and within a few hours of about a dozen states, the Red is the weekend destination for a huge number of climbers. There are many camping options, from the ubiquitous and sometimes riotous Miguel’s to the quieter places like Lago Linda’s. 

As for the climbing, the Red is famous for seemingly endless steep, overhanging walls. While many of these types of walls exist, like the Solar Collector, Drive By, and Motherlode crags, there are also dozens of crags that feature slabs, faces, tiered roofs, and any other style of climbing you’d like to chalk up for. 

The Red can be climbed year-round, though is best in fall and spring. Summer will be quite humid and warm, and winter can be very very cold. The good news, though, is that a large proportion of the climbing stays dry in the rain.

Rest days can be spent in Lexington, hiking around the numerous natural bridges in the area, or sitting in Miguel’s with a hot slice of pizza and a cold Ale-8-1, the local drink of choice (it’s non-alcoholic). Also, a little hint: there’s an awesome spring just before the Nada tunnel. Keep an eye peeled for it, because it’s the best drinking water around!

Who is Going to Love It

As mentioned above, the Red is one of those places that is on every climber's dream list, so chances are, you've heard of it and are dying to get here, too!

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

For more, make sure to check out the online guidebook.

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Red River Gorge

400 Cliffview Rd
Campton, KY, 41301
37.823794, -83.566594

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