Red River Gorge (RRG)

What to Expect

World class rock climbing. Endless high-quality trad and sport climbing routes ranging from 5.7 to 5.14. You’ll Enough climbing for a lifetime on sandstone. Fight the pump, work out your beta, and don’t be afraid to fall. You should expect some rad whippers at the Motherload, pockets at Bob Marley, overhanging jugs that are bound to spit you off at the famous Drive-By crag, and so much more! Any of this appealing to you just yet? Click here to be redirected to the RRGCC site to start planning your tick list.

The Red River Gorge Climbing Coalition (RRGCC) does an impeccable job preserving the trails, climbing areas, and maintaining a positive relationship with the locals. Like most other areas around the world, there are some amazing climbing areas found on private land. The RRGCC has been a key player into making sure that the climbing remains open to climbers and helping keep climbers responsible for following the proper ethics and rules so that we may all continue climbing! Do your part when you visit this sacred climbing area and follow the Leave No Trace guidelines.

Friends of Muir Valley is a non-profit nature preserve organization. The primary goal for the Friends of Muir is to preserve the private land for climbers so that it can stay open. With more than 40,000 visitors each year, Friend of Muir Valley ask for donations from climbers so that the funds can go towards the upkeep, trail building, and continued assurance that this private property remain open to the public. Parking fees apply in Muir: $10/vehicle or $120/year for a seasonal pass. Parking and climbing is free in all other areas in the Red.

No partner, no problem! Stop by Miguel’s where tons of climbers can be found. There’s always someone there. It’s THE hangout and has some delicious post-sending (or post-chuffing) pizza to serve you! Stop by Miguel’s for a beer, pizza, and good company.

Guidebooks

Directions

From Indianapolis, IN (~3 hr, 50 min)

From Columbus, OH (~3 hr, 50 min)

From Lexington, KY (~1 hr, 17 min)

From Chattanooga, TN (~4 hr, 41 min)

From Atlanta, GA (~6 hr, 9 min)

What type of climbing is at the Red?

You
You

Trad is rad…

Then go north and be mind-boggled by the wonderful trad lines up here in the northern gorge!

Teacher Taylor Travels
Teacher Taylor Travels
You
You

Sport all day…

Hmm… looks like you’re migrating south and climbing on the raddest sport lines in the US in the southern gorge!

Teacher Taylor Travels
Teacher Taylor Travels

Sport and Trad Climbing

With over 1,600 sport routes and over 600 trad routes in the Red, I’m sure you can find something that will get you hooked! This is a place where people come to climb from all over the world – it’s that awesome. The Red River Gorge is known for its high volume of high-quality routes! The best time to climb is in the fall and in the spring seasons.

You don’t need to bring your 4×4 vehicle to many of the RRG areas. Muir Valley is the most chill access – gravel road to a nice parking lot. PMRP has parking at the top of a hill, but you’ll just be taking a bit of a hike. There is also tons of parking closer to each crag after you drive down the PMRP hill (it’s not awful, but 4WD and high clearance are highly encouraged). Just check out the hill for yourself before driving down. Click here to read a forum about the PMRP hill.

COVID-19 Note

The Motherlode and it’s insanely awesome in person!

Per the Red River Gorge Climbers’ Coalition (RRGCC) guidelines for COVID-19, the members urge you to not come out and climb if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. Also, the RRGCC states that one must be at least 6 feet apart from others, wear masks when within close proximity to others and within local businesses, and to check out the less trafficked areas. Click here to read more about how to follow the RRGCC guidelines. Given that we are all being cautious and practicing social-distancing, please make sure that you have masks, hand sanitizer, and are being respectful of others’ space. A pretty obvious sign that the crag will be busy is based on the amount of cars in the parking lots. So, if it’s full, it might be best if you have a Plan B.

You might want to note the more popular crags in case you are trying to avoid crowds. Here are some typically crowded areas in the Red River Gorge: Military Wall (Northern Gorge), Motherlode (PMRP), Sanctuary (Muir Valley), Bob Marley (PMRP), Bruise Brothers (Muir Valley), Drive-by (PMRP), Infirmary Wall (Miller Fork). This doesn’t mean you won’t run into people if you don’t go to one of these crags, but these are more well-known to draw in crowds.

Climbing Areas

Where’s the Beef, 5.12c
Photo credit: @zoltan_nrpd linker.ee/Zoltan_NRDP

There are so many classics found in the Red! This is good news, because they’re not all at the same crag. Check out PMRP, Miller Fork, Bald Rock Fork, Muir Valley or the Northern Gorge for some of the most enjoyable climbing experiences the southeast US has to offer. PMRP is full of classic lines in the Red. Muir Valley is very friendly and a great spot for beginner climbers in general – but also consists of 5.9 – 5.13 classics! Miller Fork, a newer addition to climbing in the Red River Gorge, has some really nice areas and some more chossy areas that just need more traffic. The Northern Gorge attracts tons of trad climbers, offering up a climbing playground for any climber – new, experienced, trad, everyone in between!

If you want to avoid large crowds, it’s possible that you can, since the Red is such a vast playground for climbers. Here are some less popular crags: Long Wall, The Nursery, The Shire, Bright Side, Record Shop, and sometimes Midnight Surf (mostly during the week you can see less of a crowd). Some beta I typically go by to avoid crags is to climb during the week and rest on the weekends.

Sport Route Classics

PMRP

  • 27 Years of Climbing, 5.8
  • A Brief History or Climb, 5.10b
  • Fire and Brimstone, 5.10d
  • Breakfast Burrito, 5.10+
  • Amarillo Sunset, 5.11b
  • Spirit Fingers, 5.11c
  • Gold Rush, 5.11d
  • Check Your Grip, 5.12a
  • Samurai, 5.12b
  • Mosaic, 5.12c
  • Zen and the Art of Masturbation, 5.12d
  • Easy Rider, 5.13a
  • Paradise Lost, 5.13a
  • Dracula, 5.13b
  • Golden Boy, 5.13b
  • Kaleidoscope, 5.13c
  • Thug Life, 5.13d
  • Ultra Perm, 5.13d

Muir Valley

  • Rynosaurus, 5.8
  • Moonshine, 5.10a
  • Plate Tectonics, 5.10a
  • Gettin’ Lucky in Kentucky, 5.10b
  • Sunbeam, 5.10c
  • Return of Manimal, 5.10d
  • Air Ride Equipped, 5.11a
  • Bathtub Mary, 5.11a
  • Banshee, 5.11c
  • Baby Face, 5.12b
  • Galunlati, 5.12b
  • Super Best Friends, 5.12b
  • Cell Block Six, 5.12c
  • Jesus Wept, 5.12d
  • Tapeworm, 5.12d
  • Triple Sec, 5.12d
  • A Farewell to Arms, 5.13a
  • Bundle of Joy, 5.13a
  • Shiva, 5.13b

Miller Fork

  • Little Wing, 5.9
  • JewJew Fruit, 5.10c
  • Tesseract, 5.10d
  • Linear Regression, 5.11a
  • Brachial Plexus, 5.11d
  • Witness the Citrus, 5.11c
  • Breakfast at Koops, 5.11d
  • Banana Hammock, 5.12-
  • Ebola, 5.12b
  • Fruit by the Foot, 5.12a/b
  • Plague Doctor, 5.12a
  • Last Rites, 5.12b
  • Singularity, 5.12b/c
  • The Abyss, 5.12d
  • Adult Swim, 5.13a
  • Cornerstone, 5.13d
Camping Options
  • Miguel’s Pizza and Campground is the most popular camping option for rock climbers. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in an environment full of cheap camping, showers, mediocre bathrooms, delicious pizza, dirtbag climbers, and tent/car camping, then book your stay here.
  • Land of the Arches Campground is probably the second most popular spot for climbers to set up camp. It has a communal kitchen, tent/car/cabin/RV camping options, slightly more expensive than Miguel’s, but throws some good vibes your way during your stay!
  • Lago Linda’s is another popular spot to chill. Linda’s is more remote, private, and typically a quieter scene. There are RV hookups, plenty of tent/car camping, clean bathrooms and showers, and close to PMRP.
  • Turn your stay into a luxurious one at Torrent Falls. Torrent Falls is intensely picturesque, full of amazing climbing, and only accessible for climbing for those staying within Torrent Falls. It’s an exclusive area that might could be worth checking out – click here to learn more!
  • For a longer list of camping options during your stay at the Red, click here to be redirected to a new page.

Food Options
  • Miguel’s Pizza (pizza, vegetarian options, sandwiches, breakfast, beer)
  • La Cabana (Mexican food, vegetarian options)
  • Skybridge Station (breakfast, hot dogs, vegetarian options, quesadillas, beer, live music on weekends
  • Rockhouse (breakfast, salads, burgers, vegetarian options, burritos, burrito bowls, wine/beer)
  • Hop’s Fork (sandwiches, small plates, vegetarian options, tacos, soups, beer to go, beer on tap)
  • Red River Smokehouse (BBQ, sandwiches, nachos, no vegetarian options)

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