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Red River Gorge

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Amusement Park, The 
Bee Branch 
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Chimney Top Rock 
Chocolate Factory 
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Courthouse Rock 
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Eagle Point Buttress 
Eastern Sky Bridge Ridge 
Emerald City 
Fortress Wall 
Friction Slab 
Funk Rock City 
Global Village 
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Half Moon Rock 
Haystack Rock 
Heights, The 
Hen's Nest Rock 
Indian Creek  
Jazz Rock 
Jewel Pinnacle 
Left Flank 
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Lost Ridge 
Lower Sky Bridge Ridge 
Lower Small Wall 
Lumpy Wall 
Mariba Fork 
Middle Small Wall 
Military Wall 
Minas Tirith 
Moonshiner's Wall 
Motherlode, The 
Mt. Olive Rock 
Muir Valley 
Muscle Beach 
Pebble Beach 
Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve 
Phantasia 
Pinch Em Tight 
Pistol Ridge 
Purple Valley 
Raven Rock 
Roadside Crag (CLOSED) 
See Rocks 
Shire, The 
Symphony Wall 
Torrent Falls 
Tower Rock 
Tunnel Wall 
Unlode, The 
Wall of Denial 
Western Sky Bridge Ridge 
Whittleton Branch 
Willie's Wall 
Zoo, The 

Red River Gorge  


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Location: 37.7842, -83.6824 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: saxfiend, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: saxfiend on Jul 13, 2006
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Description 

With its central location in Kentucky and its huge volume of routes, the Red River Gorge is one of the most popular climbing meccas east of the Mississippi. Spread out through a wide expanse of national forest land and privately-owned acreage, the Red’s sandstone cliffs offer a lifetime of climbing opportunities at all levels.

As with many remote areas, climbing has been going on in the Red River Gorge since before people bothered to record any of their exploits. Proto-climbers were probably scrambling up Chimney Top Rock and the Caver’s Route at Tower Rock in the 50s and 60s. The 70s saw some of the earliest documented route development by climbers like Tom and Ellen Seibert, Larry Day and Frank Becker, who also produced the area’s first published guidebook. Other early pioneers included Tom Souders, Jeff Koenig, John Bronaugh and Martin Hackworth.

While the 70s and 80s saw increasing climber traffic, it was in the early 90s that a revolution of sorts hit the Red. Sport climbing took off in a big way with the arrival of Porter Jarrard, who began bolting overhanging walls that had previously been regarded as unclimbable. Other route developers followed suit, including Jeff Moll, Chris Snyder and Charles Tabor, among others.

As climbing grew, so did the potential for access issues, with strained relationships between climbers and the forest service or the oil companies that have drilling rights in the southern sections of the gorge. In large part as a response to new forest service land management plans, the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition was formed. The efforts of this grassroots organization have been highly fruitful, most notably with the purchase in 2004 of the huge Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve.

When people think of climbing in the Red, sport is probably the first thing that comes to mind. Crags like the Motherlode and the Dark Side are known for their ferocious bolted lines. World-class sport leaders gravitate to the Red to try their hand at testpieces like Thanatopsis (5.14b) or The Legend (5.13b). But hard overhanging sport lines are not all there is; Roadside Crag and many of Muir Valley’s crags have a plentiful assortment of routes for the 5.11-and-under leader.

Though it’s best known as a sport destination, the Red actually has almost as many trad lines to be led. Fortress Wall, Pebble Beach and Tower Rock are primarily trad destinations, while others like Roadside have a mix of trad and sport. Some classic gear lines include Roadside Attraction (5.7), Bedtime for Bonzo (5.6) and Rock Wars (5.10a). As with sport, there’s something for trad leaders at all levels, though be warned – the grades on many trad lines are “old school.”

No discussion of Red River Gorge would be complete without mentioning Miguel’s Pizza. Founded in the mid-80s by Miguel Ventura, Miguel’s isn’t just a restaurant, it’s the epicenter of climbing culture for the Red. When locals give you directions to a crag, chances are they’ll be telling you how to get there from Miguel’s. Many climbers take advantage of the cheap camping on Miguel’s grounds, and after a day of climbing, the restaurant is usually packed with climbers enjoying great pizza and other nourishments. Miguel’s also serves as a climbers’ store, carrying a wide selection of ropes, shoes, harnesses and other gear.

As noted above, climbing in the Red River Gorge is spread out over a large geographical area. For purposes of organization on Mountain Project, most crags are listed here on the main page. The two exceptions to this are the large privately-owned areas, Muir Valley and Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve; crags in these areas are listed in their respective subdivisions.

The definitive guidebook for the Red is “Red River Gorge Rock Climbs” (2nd edition) by Ray Ellington. Superbly well organized and chock full of information and photos, the Ellington guide is a must-have for RRG climbing.

The prime seasons for climbing at the Red are spring and fall. High humidity and temperatures make for miserable rock conditions in the summertime, but that doesn’t stop some climbers. Winter, aside from being frigid, has the added disadvantage of Miguel’s being closed for the off-season.

Getting There 

From Lexington, Kentucky take I-64 east about 15 miles to the exit for the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway, just past the second Winchester exit. Follow the parkway for 33 miles to the KY 11 exit (exit 33). Miguel's Pizza, the unofficial headquarters for climbing at the Red, is about two miles south on KY 11. Continue south for crags in the southern region, or north on KY 11 for northern region crags.

Climbing Season



Weather station 4.3 miles from here

1,186 Total Routes

['4 Stars',183],['3 Stars',529],['2 Stars',357],['1 Star',99],['Bomb',7]
['<=5.6',83],['5.7',75],['5.8',98],['5.9',113],['5.10',256],['5.11',268],['5.12',197],['5.13',53],['>=5.14',5],['',0],['<=V1',15],['V2-3',16],['V4-5',7],['V6-7',1],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Red River Gorge:
Roadside Attraction   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Roadside Crag (CLOSED)
27 Years of Climbing   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 65'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : The Gallery
Autumn   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Long Wall
Creature Feature   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Phantasia
Crack Attack   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Indian Creek
Plate Tectonics   5.9+ 5c 17 VI 17 E1 5a     Sport, 70'   Muir Valley : Tectonic Wall
Rock Wars   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Trad, 2 pitches, 120'   Long Wall
To Defy The Laws Of Tradition   5.10a 6a 18 VI+ 18 E1 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Left Flank
Gettin' Lucky in Kentucky   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 E2 5b     Sport, 60'   Muir Valley : Tectonic Wall
A Brief History of Climb   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 100'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : The Gallery
Breakfast Burrito   5.10c 6b 20 VII 20 E2 5b     Sport, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Whip-Stocking   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Air Ride Equipped   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Muir Valley : The Solarium
Fuzzy Undercling   5.11- 6c 22 VIII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Military Wall
Amarillo Sunset   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 50'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : North 40
Ro Shampo   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Roadside Crag (CLOSED)
Twinkie   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Phantasia
Mercy the Huff   5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b     Sport, 80'   Left Flank
BOHICA   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 100'   The Motherlode
Kaleidescope   5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Browse More Classics in Red River Gorge

Featured Route For Red River Gorge
The no-hands rest halfway up Iniquity.

Iniquity 5.12b 7b 26 VIII+ 26 E5 6b  KY : Red River Gorge : ... : Midnight Surf
Bring your bouldering skills.The route starts with a V4-V5 boulder problem on tiny crimps. Bring edgy shoes.Once passed the buiness, embark on a magical journey of long reached on big holds on a slightly overhanging face. Move right to a huge no hands rest and make a scary clip.Make your way up to smaller holds before engaging the dynamic finish on big holds.ouf.P.S. If you can't make the start, I still suggest you try the rest of the route. Very very exciting....[more]   Browse More Classics in KY

Photos of Red River Gorge Slideshow Add Photo
Misty sunrise in the Southern region of the Red River Gorge.
Misty sunrise in the Southern region of the Red Ri...
Red River Gorge sunrise.
Red River Gorge sunrise.
Observed on the road to Miguel's...
Observed on the road to Miguel's...
Miguels at night with brake lights zooming past...
Miguels at night with brake lights zooming past...
Corbin Sandstone of the Red River Gorge
Corbin Sandstone of the Red River Gorge
Auxier Ridge
Auxier Ridge
The Narrows of the Upper Red River Gorge, Clifty WIlderness
The Narrows of the Upper Red River Gorge, Clifty W...
Panoramic image of Miguel's Pizza on a nice, chilly morning (mail me for full size)
Panoramic image of Miguel's Pizza on a nice, chill...
Miguels. Holga 120 N. ISO 100. RF20. If someone knows the email address for Miguels, would you mind sending this photo on to them? Thank you for the great pizza Miguel!
Miguels. Holga 120 N. ISO 100. RF20. If someone kn...
custom volume knob...
custom volume knob...
Steep, pocketed jug haul abound...
Steep, pocketed jug haul abound...
halloween time at miguels...
halloween time at miguels...
The door to the new and improved downstairs at Miguel's...
BETA PHOTO: The door to the new and improved downstairs at Mig...
2010-08-28.  Bonfire at Miguels and everyone hanging after a hard day of climbing.
2010-08-28. Bonfire at Miguels and everyone hangi...
Auxier Ridge
Auxier Ridge
Red point attempt.
Red point attempt.
Sending Autumn. Incredible trad climb and well worth the hike.
Sending Autumn. Incredible trad climb and well wor...
Eagle's Nest, Clifty Wilderness
Eagle's Nest, Clifty Wilderness
SteveZ on a beautiful October afternoon at Miguel's.  Photo by Ben.
SteveZ on a beautiful October afternoon at Miguel'...
"you've got mail"
"you've got mail"
Another Red River rock gymnist sending the beautifully steep sandstone, photo: Bob Horan
Another Red River rock gymnist sending the beautif...
...
...
October '08, shot of the Miguel's campground from the top of the formation at Natural Bridge State Park across the road.
October '08, shot of the Miguel's campground from ...
The tent city behind Miguel's during Rocktoberfest.  Due to this and possibly a fall break for students, it was way too busy for our group's tastes, but the other campgrounds were filled up.
BETA PHOTO: The tent city behind Miguel's during Rocktoberfest...

Show All 39 Photos

Only the first 24 are shown above.

Comments on Red River Gorge Add Comment
Show which comments
Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Sep 28, 2014
By Chris Chaney
From: Arvada, Colorado
Sep 29, 2006
For directions to individual areas and climbs there is a great online guide at: redriverclimbing.com/RRCGuideV... or an excellent printed guide written by Ray Ellington called "The Red River Gorge."
By Ladd Raine
Administrator
From: Plymouth, NH
Apr 25, 2007
Red River Outdoors burnt down on Tuesday April 24th, 2007. Please everyone send your best thoughts their way. The owners and employees are all unhurt, however, they did lose their dog. Please note this if you are heading to the Red.
By Nick Stayner
From: Billings, MT
Dec 10, 2007
I second Chris Chaney's endorsement of redriverclimbing.com/.
Pretty amazing route database!
By Luke Stefurak
From: Mountain View, CA
Dec 21, 2007
I am going to start adding the southern region to MP.com. It will be a slow process but there are so many amazing routes there and MP.com is a great database that deserves to be updated. For complete route info for the RRG use the links to Ray Ellington's online guide.
By Kodye
From: Big Pine, CA
May 9, 2009
If you plan on camping at Miguels in the spring check the weather cause if it is gonna rain you might wake up swimming. definitely get the high ground!!
By adrenalated
From: Thornton, CO
Jun 23, 2009
Not sure I like the way regions and areas are organized here. The guidebook, redriverclimbing.com, rockclimbing.com (ie, every resource I've seen for the RRG except this one) is organized by the traditional method. Yes, it is confusing at times, but this method is confusing at ALL times if you don't have a topographic map. In my experience, most climbers are much more likely to have a guidebook than a topo map for cragging areas, so organizing by the traditional method that the guidebook uses would make way more sense.
By saxfiend
Administrator
From: Decatur, GA
Nov 2, 2009
I agree with Jeff's concerns about the layout of the RRG here, so I've done some major reorganization. If you have comments, let me know.
By adrenalated
From: Thornton, CO
Nov 2, 2009
Thanks sax! Big improvement for sure.
I still think it should just follow the guidebook method (Gray's Branch, Upper, Middle and Lower Gorge, etc) but this works fine too.
By Danny Guestrin
Feb 4, 2010
Any suggestions on where to camp in February when Miguel's is closed?
By adrenalated
From: Thornton, CO
Feb 9, 2010
I believe you can still camp at Miguel's during the winter, but there's no water, bathrooms, or trash disposal. Fortunately, the rest area is not far away and has all those things. Don't quote me on that though.
By Danny Guestrin
Feb 21, 2010
Thanks for the reply Jeff.
Just to let others know, I just got back from winter camping at RRG and I ended up staying at the Koomer Ridge campground. It had washrooms, a well with running water, trash disposal, and was $7/night for the site. I recommend this to others camping in the off season.
By jedidiah
Apr 4, 2010
hello

was on the route " bleed like me" at the vol. wall, me and my girl friend both had trouble with it we dont know if we were on the right route. both rrg guides said it came in at 12b and was 65 ft, the route we were on the crux started at 65 ft or so it seemed??? if any body can shed some light on this first set of bolts just right of the huge cave. it was day 6 on so my pereption of the climb is probably skewed.

thanx
By Ben Cassedy
From: Denver, CO
May 3, 2010
There is a wealth of primitive camping in RRG. You can camp just about anywhere in forest service land for about $3 or 4 a night. The problem is that even that stuff is going to be packed on Memorial Day weekend.

You can drive up Chimney top road, auxier ridge, basically wherever, and you will find primitive spots in the pull-offs right by the road. There is a large site between Left Flank and Military; it will probably be taken. Same deal with stuff near Funk Rock. There are hike-in backcountry sites, but those are generally a pain in the ass if you're climbing and if you don't know what you're looking for.

I would shoot for either Miguels or Lago Linda's. I don't remember either of those places being more crowded than usual last year. Of course, they were still packed, but no more than usual...
By vanishing spy
May 5, 2010
What's up with the flooding and road closures this week. Which crags are inaccessible? I've been trying to figure it out and the best I can see is rrgtoday.com/phpBB3/viewtopic....
By matthewWallace
From: plymouth, nh
Jun 11, 2010
I just did my first trip to RRG this past week, what an amazing place. A couple things I would suggest are, a stick-clip, eating at Miguels as much as possible, drinking as much ale-8 as your can, and train for endurance. RRG is an amazing destination!
By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
Nov 14, 2011
By Ezekiel Thornton
From: Akron, Ohio
Jun 25, 2012
Wish more of the trad routes were posted. Oh and wish more of the trad routes were climbed. So many spiders haha
By Caleb Hansen
From: Rapid City
Aug 7, 2012
Climbing partners wanted!
Going to be coming down to the RED from October 25-Nov14. My partners have bailed so I'll be flying solo. Anyone able to climb those dates? or will it be easy enough to pick up partners day to day by hanging around miquels? Thanks
Caleb
By Mike-R
From: springfield, Mo
Sep 2, 2012
So I only got a weekend to climb at RRG. What should i climb? I climb mostly low 10s but enjoy 5.8 as well as 5.9
By Josh Cox
From: Andover, MN
Dec 28, 2012
In the Spring... how early does it get "good"? as in dry? I'm looking at the first full week of April. Of course, weather is unpredictable, but in general would this be a good time or should I try and push it back into May? Thanks.
By J Meagher
Apr 17, 2014
Anybody have suggestions for a good first 12a at the Red? Mostly what Im looking for is a route that's really nicely bolted, not too exposed, and not too tall (ie. routes like Twinkie will scare the crap out of me)
By S. Neoh
Apr 17, 2014
Get this - itunes.apple.com/us/book/red-r... and maybe this itunes.apple.com/us/book/red-r...
Ray does a great job with guide books.

Some say Wild Yet Tasty at Left Flank is a gimme .12a. I did/do not think so.
I think you will have a wonderful time if you make time to get on the MANY amazing .10 and .11 routes at The Red and try to onsight/flash them all. I've stopped working routes at The Red, just too much fun trying to flash as many new .10 and .11 routes as I can over the course of a trip.
Oh, we bring our 70m ropes to The Red. It ain't Rumney.
By Michaela Peisger 1
From: Westchester, New York
Aug 30, 2014
Climbed at Curbside yesterday. There is a big hornet nest in the sand below a big rock next to the climb wild fire. We got away with a couple of stings thanks to the help of a great couple from Las Vegas but could have gone totally wrong. The nest is hard to see because it is in the sand.
By Rogerlodge
From: Chicago, Illinois
Sep 28, 2014
If anyone found a black Olympus camera possibly in a black sock near volunteer wall or the gallery at PMRP or possibly Miguel's and wants to return it message me. Thanks!