Known for its overhanging, juggy sport climbing, the Red River Gorge draws climbers from all over the US and the world. With several low-cost camping and restaurant options, as well as hostels and rental cabins, climbers can stay at the Red River Gorge affordably for a weekend, week, or month-long trip.
When to Visit
Spring and Fall. Hardcore climbers visit year-round, but the best temperatures and low humidity occur late October – early December and late March – May. June sometimes offers non-humid climbing conditions, but expect to find a humid sauna with predator mosquitoes in July and August. Spring weekends can be hit or miss due to rain. Expect some excellent Winter climbing days, but the campgrounds close early December – March. Seek sun or shade as appropriate!
The Red River Gorge has three main “climber” campgrounds – Miguel’s, Land of Arches, and Lago Linda’s. However, climbers can choose from several camping and hostel options throughout the Red River Gorge. The newest campground is located just above the PMRP!
The map below shows where the campgrounds and hostels are located in relation to the climbing areas.
Check out the chart below for a summary of the camping options:
If climbing during the Winter months, verify if these campgrounds are still open.
Bald Rock Campground
The newest option in the Southern Gorge, located just above the PMRP and the Motherlode, is the Bald Rock Campground. Individual wooded campsites contain picnic tables and a fire ring. The campground has a water spigot and very clean porta potties, and the owner is building a shower house with flush toilets. The campground also has cabins for rent. At $6 per site, not per person, van dwellers and PMRP lovin’ climbers will soon flock to this place!
Daniel Boone National Forest (Tunnel Ridge Road)
Daniel Boone National Forest provides primitive campgrounds and dispersed camping in the Northern Gorge. Purchase a $3 overnight camping pass at the Shell Gas Station near Mountain Park Highway’s Slade Exit. Many primitive campgrounds border Tunnel Ridge Road. Park at the entrance of the campgrounds along Tunnel Ridge Road and hike in your tent to find a campsite. The Tunnel Ridge campgrounds feature pit toilets and fire rings, but not picnic tables or running water. The Gray’s Arch picnic area along Tunnel Ridge Road has picnic tables. Tunnel Ridge camping provides an escape from large climber crowds, but the best sites can fill up with hikers on busy weekends.
Koomer Ridge provides well-maintained campsites in the Northern Gorge. Each campsite has a platform, picnic table, and fire rings. The campground has shower houses, flush toilets, and water spigots near the shower houses. Koomer Ridge is a pricier option than the surrounding camping areas, but it’s a comfortable, wooded spot away from crowds. The prices are best during the Winter months. Between March 17 and November 5, prices range from $20 – $30 a site with $8 for an extra vehicle. November 6 – March 16, all sites are $10 with $8 per extra vehicle. Water and vault toilets available all year. Showers and flush toilets not available in winter.
Lago Linda Hideaway
Located in the Southern Gorge about 20 minutes from both the PMRP, Lago Linda’s costs $5 per person. Lago Linda’s has showers, cabins, individual wooded campsites, and large areas for field camping. For long-term stays, camp near the pavilion. Climbers store their stoves and food bins at the edges of the tables, essentially claiming that table area. Those just visiting for the weekend might find the pavilion to be packed, but they can still fill up their water from the pavilion sink. The “Shake Out Lounge” next to the pavilion has heat and AC, a TV, magazines and puzzles. The WiFi is very spotty and works best on the front porch of the pay station. Lago Linda’s tends to be less crowded than Miguel’s, and attracts both campers and van dwellers.
Land of Arches
Camp here if you love ping pong. Located in the Southern Gorge near Muir Valley and about 20 minutes from Miller Fork and the PMRP, Land of Arches costs $5 per person. People set up their tents along the ridge of a tall hill or park their vans next to the pavilion. In addition to a pavilion with a sink, hot showers, and several flush toilets, Land of Arches also has a large indoor area called the Hanger. The Hanger is not heated and the front doors remain open at all times, but it has ping pong tables as well places to sit at while you charge your phone or hang out with friends. Land of Arches tend to have more reliable internet than Miguel’s or Lago Linda’s.
Miguel’s Pizza earns its reputation as THE main climber campground at the Red River Gorge due to its $3 camping and long dirtbag history. As more and more climbers come to the Red, Miguel’s keeps expanding its facilities. Miguel’s now has two pavilions, sinks for doing dishes, a basketball court, a gear shop, and two heated indoor areas to watch TV or play games. Park your van in the parking lot or pitch your tent in one of the fields. Order pizza, salads, coffee, or breakfast burritos if you have the ramen noodle blues. Miguel’s is cheaper than Lago Linda’s or Land of Arches and is centrally located between the Southern and Northern Gorges, but expect long bathroom lines and to pay for showers. Wifi and cell phone reception can be spotty. Miguel’s also has rooms for rent.
Red River Adventures
Although not a “climber campground,” the Red River Adventures campground makes for a pleasant weekend spot in the Northern Gorge. Expect families, large tents, and plenty of space. Close to Fortress Wall and the intersection of KY 715 and KY 77, the campground costs $5 per person. A large field contains fire rings and picnic tables, and there shaded spots line the river. Bring your own toilet paper in case the porta pottie TP runs out! The campground sells firewood but does not permit alcohol.
The Red River Gorge also has two hostels.
Sky Bridge Station Hostel
Both hikers and climbers flock to Sky Bridge Station on KY 715 after day in the Northern Gorge or Muir Valley. Once you enter the large cabin, head upstairs for Sky Bridge Station’s hostel rooms, or stay downstairs for local beer, gourmet hot dogs (including veggie dogs), and appetizers like hummus or nachos. The restaurant has darts, trivia nights, and the occasional blue grass band. The hostel upstairs has a common room with a couch and TV, and beds go for $17 per person.
Rustic Red Hostel
The Rustic Red Hostel is a new addition to the Red River Gorge. Centrally located in the Red River Gorge, on Highway 11, the hostel provides bunk beds for $15 a person. The hostel also has an indoor kitchen area for cooking, a lounge area with a couch, showers, WiFi, and outdoor grills and picnic areas. The hostel is north of Miguel’s on Highway 11, near the Daniel Boone Coffee Shop and La Cabaña Mexican Restaurant.
Miguel’s sells the Miller Fork, Red River Gorge North, and Red River Gorge South books. You can also buy the Red River Gorge South and North books online:
- Free climbing areas: the Northern Gorge, the Zoo, Beer Trailer Crag, Miller Fork, and the PMRP. The nonprofit Red River Gorge Climbing Coalition, which secures us access to areas such as the PMRP and Miller Fork, earns its revenue through fundraising events and donations so that we can climb for free. Most of the Northern Gorge climbing is located on public land.
- Paid climbing areas: Friends of Muir Valley charges $10 per car per day for parking and requires a one-time online waiver. Torrent Falls only allows climbing on its land for people who rent cabins through them. Road Side crag requires an online waiver and donation for each visit.
- Rough Roads: An AWD or 4WD vehicle is recommended for trips to Miller Fork or to most of the climbs at the PMRP or the Motherlode. If you lack an AWD or 4WD vehicle, park at the top of the road to the PMRP/Motherlode and hike down. Normal sedans either get stuck on the way out of the PMRP or make the road worse for everyone else.
Stop by the Beer Trailer on KY-11 for a good selection of craft beer. There is a 50% chance the Beer Trailer will also have free kittens.
A 60 meter rope suffices for most routes. A stick clip is highly recommend to navigate tough starts and retrieve your first draw.
Some people stock up on groceries from the Trader Joe’s in Lexington, but the Kroger in Stanton offers the healthiest grocery options near the RRG. The town of Beattyville has two budget grocery stores, but they mostly lack healthy food options. The butcher Halseys offers locally sourced meat selections.
Look for the laundromat near Daniel Boone Coffee Shop, north of Miguel’s on Highway 11. This clean laundromat has new machines.
- Climber restaurants: Miguel’s Pizza, the Rock House, and Sky Bridge Station. Expect crowds and long lines on Saturday nights, but Sunday evenings tend to be chill. Miguel’s Pizza offers pizza, salads, pasta, and Ale-8 at night and breakfast burritos and coffee in the morning. The Rock House has a small, yet tasty menu of salads, burritos, tacos, burgers, and beer. Sky-Bridge Station offers beer on tap and bar food with vegetarian options.
- Non-climber restaurants: Hill-Top Pizza, Carson’s General Store, The Art Factory Coffee Shop, La Cabaña
Head to Beattyville for free internet from its newly built library. The coffee shop the Art Factory in Beattyville sells coffee, pastries, and lunch. Head to the Northern Gorge for trail runs or hiking trails.
Climbing and hiking accidents happen, and Wolfe County Search and Rescue and Powell County Search and Rescue can help. Watch out for copperhead snakes when hiking, putting down your gear, or looking for your wooded restroom.
The Lee County Community Center, near the road to the PMRP, has free weights and a pull-up bar. While the gym area is hardly used, women must follow a dress code of no-tank tops or short shorts. Shorts must come past your finger tips. Miguel’s, Lago Lindas, and Land of Arches all have hangboards.
Check out mytinywedding.com for inexpensive RRG weddings.
The Rock House, Daniel Boone’s Coffee Shop, Beattyville Library, Stanton Library, and the Art Factory coffee shop all have Wifi. Wifi at the campgrounds is spotty to non-existent.
For beta on other climbing areas, check out the Weekend Cragger’s page on Destination Beta.