/ DESTINATION GUIDE: Red River Gorge

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UKC Articles - on 16 Aug 2017
The Motherlode, 5 kbTouching skin with Virginia and ten hours from New York City, a spectacular gorge hides in rural Kentucky in a place not likely to be on anyone's radar as a 'holiday destination.' Beckoning hikers and climbers, an unassuming lorry driver might never know that sitting on sleepy Interstate Highway 11 is one of the most impressive sport climbing venues in the world: the Red River Gorge. In the midst of churches and religious advertisements, copious forests and quiet country roads, we find this unexpected jewel, home to more than 3500 world-class routes, the climbing ranging from sport to trad and even bouldering.

Alice Hafer takes us on a guided tour of Kentucky's famous Red River Gorge.





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L jghedge on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
It's a good idea to use credit cards only at banks and airports, and cash everywhere else when in Kentucky, Tennessee and the rest of the US "Red State" South. This is a desperately poor/borderline 3rd-world part of the US, as you'll discover upon arrival, and the local (non-climbing) population primarily consists of drug dealers and thieves. Also goes without saying - leave nothing of value in your car!
Post edited at 00:11
L lordcaffeine - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to jghedge:

Thank you for perpetuating the common stereotype of my region, Joe.
You are cordially invited to stay in California and climb your slabs.
In the mean time we will be working with locals to help them pull themselves up out of economic insecurity and into the 21st century.
Have fun in L.A.

Sincerely,
Chris Snyder - Lee County KY
Ramon Marin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to jghedge:

I've been to the Red twice and never had a problem, never felt it was dodgy and whilst it's a poor area, certainly not poorer than a lot of places in Spain where I'm from and many people go climbing too. I've never heard any cars being broken in, and yet a friend was broken in a few days ago whilst climbing in the mountains in Austria. I always felt the locals were friendly, always helpful to visitors, not that you have to socialize much with them as the whole climbing area is a micro-cosmos of climbers. And I'll go as far as saying that for a dose of experiencing the "real" America, I highly recommend going to Red. Besides this, I think it has the best sport climbing in the world (for my taste). On a days off I'd recommend to go to one of the Bourbon distilleries, Woodford Reserve being the best, and have a more upscale taste of Kentucky.
mag_to_grid - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Ive also been to Red River Gorge and found it to be great, I wouldn't say I noticed anything remotely dodgy about it. Also I can highly recommend Miguels for a Pizza and/or a chalk bag.

Nor did I have any issues in my two wks in Kentucky staying in Louisville and Greenville.

Hopefully going back one day.
neilh - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to mag_to_grid:

I went a few years ago for a couple of days whilst over on a business trip. Easy to find partners at the weekend, I just turned up at Miguels and asked around.

Loved it.
Ally Smith on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to jghedge:

Another Red River Gorge fab here!

In three trips/5 weeks in the rrg I've never felt threatened, seen any crime or even been warned about car break ins.

The only downside to the red is the need to drive 10 minutes up the road to buy your post climbing beer from the dilapidated "beer trailer"; if the red was in Europe is visit multiple times a year
Robert Durran - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to jghedge:

> .........as you'll discover upon arrival, and the local (non-climbing) population primarily consists of drug dealers and thieves. Also goes without saying - leave nothing of value in your car!

So much the same as any crag within about fifty miles of Manchester then?

Ramon Marin - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I've recommended the Red to many of my friends, I wouldn't do so if I thought it wasn't "off-the-charts" good. For anyone interested in a bit more reading on this awesome place you could read a blog I wrote, it has a bit more beta about accommodation than this article http://ramonmarin.co.uk/journal/the-red-gold
JR_NL - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Just wondering, I'm not as good a climber as most, on a week in Kalymnos (mind the easy ratings) I'd start at 5a in the beginning of the week and top out at 6a/6b. Would there be enough in Red River Gorge to keep me interested for say a week?
pneame on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article - although I've never been to the Red (too far North!) the article makes it clear what is special about Southern Rock. The climbing in NC, TN, AL is like this also - unique and rather special. The trad ethic in NC can be downright scary! Actually finding the crag can be half the fun.
Alex the Alex on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Home to the indomitable Ed Mank too! I always meant to go visit.
heleno - on 17 Aug 2017
In reply to JR_NL:

> I'd start at 5a in the beginning of the week and top out at 6a/6b. Would there be enough in Red River Gorge to keep me interested for say a week?

I climb similar grades, and yes, there is plenty at that grade (approx 5.8 to 5.10b). If you rent a car suitable for dirt roads this will increase the range of crags available to you. Climbing style is very different from Kalymnos, though. Like highly featured grit with bolts!
L jghedge on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to lordcaffeine:

Had my checking account cleaned out twice while on 2 separate trips to the Red. Talked to some local climbers at the Motherlode who thought no one would be desperate enough to break into their car for the only thing in it, a bag of dog food (they were wrong). Good luck.
snoop6060 - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to jghedge:

An American friend climbs here a fair bit and said it is class but make sure you take a gun. He wasn't kidding either. I'm well keen to go now. Not sure how to work a gun but can't be that hard, there aren't many buttons.

He actually said in all seriousness it's a decent place for practising shooting and it's a good activity to fill the time between climbing. As well as killing people who try to rob you presumably. Eitherway he was a bit of character but was genuinely surprised that I thought he was taking the piss.
dominic o - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

We had a great week in The Red as a part of a Route 66 Road trip across the States. Tremendous climbing and a really friendly scene across the whole of The South - the only minor cultural challenge was the "Dry" situation, but that was soon resolved once we found "The Beer Trailer"

Our time in The Red coincided with the annual Rocktoberfest so Miguel's and some of the popular crags were pretty rammed - this is either a great buzz if you are into it, or easily avoided on the huge number of excellent but less travelled crags. Check out https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2015/10/15/roadside-bruise-brothers-and-the-gallery-great-climbing-... for a few suggestions

Whilst extolling the virtues of a visit to The South I can't resist a plug for The Obed. This is the friendliest scene we've ever encountered anywhere! The Lilly Pad guarantees a warm welcome, ace climbing, communal camp fires and a micro brewery on site! https://rockaroundtheworld.co.uk/2015/10/22/the-obed-wild-and-scenic-national-river/

Pursued by a bear - on 18 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

I went with a friend some years ago. I don't think it's unfair to say that we got our arses kicked by some of the routes; a deal harder, we thought, than the grade indicated. But it was a very nice area, very pleasant weather when we were there (end Feb, start of March) and though the campsites weren't formally open, they were available to use. Just quite primitive (ie, no washing facilities, just a tap).

But the rock - unsurprisingly, it's sandstone - reminded me of Pexhill. Strong fingers and neat footwork, of the sort that climbing at Pexhill gives you, would aid progress considerably.

T.
JR_NL - on 21 Aug 2017
In reply to heleno:

Thank you It's always a bit hard to work out from these destination articles as they generally focus on a bit harder climbing
racodemisa - on 22 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
been several times over the years.
Nicest friendliest climbing scene anywhere.
Best rock i have ever climbed on.
Great from mainly 6b/c upwards.
Among the top places on the planet.
Tristan.Stricker on 22 Aug 2017
In reply to racodemisa:

Going on a three week trip in late September. Cannot wait!

Really good to hear so many positive ratings of the place.

Does it suffer from mosquitos and other biting bugs? They see to love me....
racodemisa - on 23 Aug 2017
In reply to Tristan.Stricker:
Have never seemed terrible though i have always been there a bit later in the autumn.
Humidity and heat can be an issue.
There are many sectors in the shade pretty unique in this respect IMO.
Most crags stay dry.
The rts are bolted for stick clipping.by the way.
Fantastic spot going back for the 7th time this october..
Try Skybridge East..Funk rock city...golden slipper sectors for slightly atypical rrg climbing @6b-6c,/7a
Would really recomend Cloud 9 to Serenity Point down in Miller Fork for many good 15m-25m pumpathons @6c-7a...and then theres many many other sectors..you will no doubt want to return.
Post edited at 06:23
Tristan.Stricker on 24 Aug 2017
In reply to racodemisa:

Sweeeeet! Many thanks for the info. Gonna try and have a go on 'Orange Juice' at funk rick city. 30m of 7b pumpathon! Perhaps my expectations need checking but the climbing looks totally my style. Pumpfest!
racodemisa - on 29 Aug 2017
In reply to Tristan.Stricker:
FRC can be hot.
Orange juice i believe is solid 7b + though i have not done it.
By the way you are going to be on a 2 week pump fest !!!
Enjoy !
Post edited at 10:45

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