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Red River Gorge

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Amusement Park, The 
Bear's Den, The 
Bee Branch 
Beer Trailer Crag 
Blackburn Rock 
Camp Store Crag 
Chimney Top Rock 
Chocolate Factory 
Clearcut Wall 
Courthouse Rock 
Dip Wall 
Dunkan Rock 
Eagle Point Buttress 
Eastern Sky Bridge Ridge 
Emerald City 
Fortress Wall 
Friction Slab 
Funk Rock City 
Global Village 
Graining Fork Nature Preserve (a.k.a. Roadside Crag) 
Gun Crag 
Half Moon Rock 
Haystack Rock 
Heights, The 
Hen's Nest Rock 
Indian Creek  
Jazz Rock 
Jewel Pinnacle 
Kentucky Wall, The 
Left Flank 
Long Wall 
Lost Ridge 
Lower Sky Bridge Ridge 
Lower Small Wall 
Lumpy Wall 
Mariba Fork 
Middle Small Wall 
Military Wall 
Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP) 
Minas Tirith 
Moonshiner's Wall 
Motherlode, The 
Mt. Olive Rock 
Muir Valley 
Muscle Beach 
Pebble Beach 
Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) 
Pinch Em Tight 
Pistol Ridge 
Purple Valley 
Raven Rock 
See Rocks 
Shallow Boulder  
Symphony Wall 
Torrent Falls 
Tower Rock 
Tunnel Wall 
Unlode, The 
Wall of Denial 
Western Sky Bridge Ridge 
Whittleton Branch 
Willie's Wall 
Zoo, The 
Rest Day:
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From MP's sister site: MTB Project

Red River Gorge Rock Climbing 

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Administrators: DisturbingThePeace, Jason Halladay, saxfiend, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: saxfiend on Jul 13, 2006
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You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
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Ahhh, a sight for sore muscles and an empty stomac...


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 (PMRP) and the Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP) purchased in 2012.

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; Graining Fork Nature Preserve (a.k.a. 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 three exceptions to this are the large privately-owned areas, Muir Valley, Pendergrass-Murray Recreational Preserve (PMRP) and Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP); 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

1,532 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',221],['3 Stars',690],['2 Stars',480],['1 Star',125],['Bomb',4]

Classic Climbing Routes in Red River Gorge

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for Red River Gorge:
Roadside Attraction   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 1 pitch, 120'   Graining Fork Nature Preser...
27 Years of Climbing   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c     Sport, 65'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : The Gallery
Send Me on My Way   5.9- 5c 17 VI 16 HVS 4c     Sport, 1 pitch, 75'   Muir Valley : Bruise Brothers Wall
Creature Feature   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Phantasia
Autumn   5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a     Trad, 1 pitch, 80'   Long Wall
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   5.10b 6a+ 19 VII- 19 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
Air Ride Equipped   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 65'   Muir Valley : The Solarium
Whip-Stocking   5.11a 6c 22 VII+ 22 E3 5c     Sport, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Amarillo Sunset   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 50'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : North 40
Fuzzy Undercling   5.11b 6c 23 VIII- 23 E3 5c     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Military Wall
Banshee   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- 24 E4 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   Muir Valley : The Solarium
Ro Shampo   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 60'   Graining Fork Nature Preser...
Twinkie   5.12a 7a+ 25 VIII+ 25 E5 6a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Phantasia
BOHICA   5.13b 8a 29 IX+ 30 E7 6c     Sport, 100'   The Motherlode : Madness Cave
Kaleidescope   5.13c 8a+ 30 X- 31 E7 7a     Sport, 1 pitch, 80'   Pendergrass-Murray Recreati... : Drive-By Crag
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in Red River Gorge

Featured Route For Red River Gorge
Rock Climbing Photo: Mike onsighting Jesus Wept.

Jesus Wept 5.12d 7c 28 IX 28 E6 6b  KY : Red River Gorge : ... : The Sanctuary
Starts at the right side of the big steep wall of huecos. Make a rising rightward traverse passed a few bolts to gain some good holds as the route heads straight up. There is apparently a new direct start that does not change the grade though I have not done it. As you head straight up the holds thin untill you have a serise of moves on 2 and 3 finger pockets with poor feet ending at a horizontal below a small roof. Work around the roof to the right and up the face more easily to the anchor....[more]   Browse More Classics in KY

Photos of Red River Gorge Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Observed on the road to Miguel's...
Observed on the road to Miguel's...
Rock Climbing Photo: Misty sunrise in the Southern region of the Red Ri...
Misty sunrise in the Southern region of the Red Ri...
Rock Climbing Photo: Red River Gorge sunrise.
Red River Gorge sunrise.
Rock Climbing Photo: Corbin Sandstone of the Red River Gorge
Corbin Sandstone of the Red River Gorge
Rock Climbing Photo: Miguels at night with brake lights zooming past...
Miguels at night with brake lights zooming past...
Rock Climbing Photo: Auxier Ridge
Auxier Ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: Steep, pocketed jug haul abound...
Steep, pocketed jug haul abound...
Rock Climbing Photo: Miguels. Holga 120 N. ISO 100. RF20. If someone kn...
Miguels. Holga 120 N. ISO 100. RF20. If someone kn...
Rock Climbing Photo: Panoramic image of Miguel's Pizza on a nice, chill...
Panoramic image of Miguel's Pizza on a nice, chill...
Rock Climbing Photo: The Narrows of the Upper Red River Gorge, Clifty W...
The Narrows of the Upper Red River Gorge, Clifty W...
Rock Climbing Photo: custom volume knob...
custom volume knob...
Rock Climbing Photo: The door to the new and improved downstairs at Mig...
BETA PHOTO: The door to the new and improved downstairs at Mig...
Rock Climbing Photo: Climbing up Plate Tectonics -
Climbing up Plate Tectonics -
Rock Climbing Photo: Joe taking a rest on "A Wave New World" ...
Joe taking a rest on "A Wave New World" ...
Rock Climbing Photo: halloween time at miguels...
halloween time at miguels...
Rock Climbing Photo: Jen almost at the top of Eureka, a classic 5.6 @ G...
Jen almost at the top of Eureka, a classic 5.6 @ G...
Rock Climbing Photo: ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Auxier Ridge
Auxier Ridge
Rock Climbing Photo: 2010-08-28.  Bonfire at Miguels and everyone hangi...
2010-08-28. Bonfire at Miguels and everyone hangi...
Rock Climbing Photo: Sending Autumn. Incredible trad climb and well wor...
Sending Autumn. Incredible trad climb and well wor...
Rock Climbing Photo: Red point attempt.
Red point attempt.
Rock Climbing Photo: Bushwhack Crack 5.8+ at Clearcut Wall
BETA PHOTO: Bushwhack Crack 5.8+ at Clearcut Wall
Rock Climbing Photo: October '08, shot of the Miguel's campground from ...
October '08, shot of the Miguel's campground from ...
Rock Climbing Photo: Joe tackling the overhang on Johnny B. Good @ PMRP...
Joe tackling the overhang on Johnny B. Good @ PMRP...

Show All 52 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 Oct 18, 2016
By iclimegud
Sep 8, 2016
For anyone planning on climbing at the Red this Saturday (09/10/2016), please be advised that the RRG Fixed Gear Initiative will be working on several walls:

Eastern Skybridge

The Zoo

Volunteer Wall

Wall of Denial

Chica Bonita

Bob Marley

We will be replacing bad bolts with glue-ins and certain routes could be closed for the day as a result.
Sorry for any inconvenience, but these walls will be fully open (and more safe) starting on Sunday.
By Chris Chaney
From: Stanton, Kentucky
Sep 29, 2006
For directions to individual areas and climbs there is a great online guide at: or an excellent printed guide written by Ray Ellington called "The Red River Gorge."
By Ladd
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
Pretty amazing route database!
By Luke Stefurak
From: Seattle, WA
Dec 21, 2007
I am going to start adding the southern region to It will be a slow process but there are so many amazing routes there and 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: South Lake Tahoe, 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: Denver, CO
Jun 23, 2009
Not sure I like the way regions and areas are organized here. The guidebook,, (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
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: Denver, 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: Denver, 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

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.

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
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
Nov 14, 2011
By Zeke6
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
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 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: Salt Lake City, UT
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!
By Woodchuck ATC
Mar 3, 2015
Did I miss a page,or has nobody decided to reveal the new Miller Fork area here at MP site, to hopefully include basic info on routes, access, location, parking, etc. ? Seems fair to share the info online sometime.
By Hillbill
From: Indianapolis
Mar 6, 2015
^^ You can find information about Miller Fork here:
By Britton M
Apr 25, 2015
Looking for partner in RRG Tuesday and Wednesday April 28 and 29. Climbing level sport 5.9. Trying to do a few beginner trad routes. I have a few cams and nuts. Not a large trad rack. Just getting started. Text me @ 502-475-4513
By Sam Schabacker
Aug 19, 2015
Does anyone have beta about getting a shuttle from the Louisville or Cinci airports?

Or can you rent a car at one of those airports and then drop it in town nearby the Red?

I'm going to be meeting a buddy but need one way transportation.
By Jeremy C
From: Golden, CO
Oct 18, 2015
If you opt to camp out behind Miguels and are over the age of 28 you'll probably want to distance yourself from the restaurant as much as possible. theres a pretty heavy party scene that went on until about 4 am on a tuesday when I visited. None of the staff will do anything to silence people. I'd recommend staying at another campsite if youre the kind of person that just wants to get up and go climbing the next morning. But if you came to Kentucky to get trashed behind a pizza place in the middle of the woods and play uno super loudly for hours on end, this is the place for you.
By David Tennant
From: Denver, CO
Dec 16, 2015
Area/first time recommendations thread:

MP Thread 1
By Michael Dom
Dec 23, 2015
Anyone know any good areas to climb at when it is raining out? It can be trad or sport up to 5.12+.
By S. Neoh
Dec 25, 2015
Start with this -
By benlariv
Jun 8, 2016
Want to trade belays for a ride to the red? I'll be at a bluegrass festival and I need a ride to the red from olive hill ky on July 17th or so. I can take a bus to anywhere convenient for you to pick me up and give me a ride to the red.
By Jesse Rigsby
From: Eagleville,Tennessee
Jul 19, 2016
Going up the weekend of July 29-31. Where's the best place to stay?
By Natalia Forero
Sep 30, 2016
Hi. We are two Colombian climbers seeking to climb in RRG in two weeks and we would like to get some advices about how much we could spend there during two weeks, saving tips. is it safe to leave passports on a tent? Cheap accomodation? and all useful information. Can we get there from Lexington by bus? Can we arrange carpooling with other climbers? We Will appreciate any help
By Nhan Joe Nguyen
From: Denver, CO
6 days ago
Hey I lost a set of 5 CAMP quickdraws, green and black with red zip ties attached at the bone. I anyone finds them can they email me at


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