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Pets allowed
No
Guided tours
No
Backcountry camping
Yes
Lodging
No
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The Red River Gorge of Kentucky includes the Red River Gorge Geological Area, Clifty Wilderness Area, and Natural Bridge State Park. With more than 100 arches, towering sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, and old-growth forests, it is easy to see why it has been designated a National Geological Area, National Natural Landmark, and National Archeological District. Red River Gorge is famous for its rock climbing, and there are well over 500 miles hiking trails.

Hiking

  • Chimney Top Rock: A quarter-mile trail leads to Chimney Top Rock and its 270-degree views of the Red River Gorge below.
  • Princess Arch Trail: A relatively level quarter-mile trail to Princess Arch.
  • Sky Bridge Loop Trail: The 1-mile loop to Sky Bridge is relatively flat, but to complete the loop requires climbing 75 well maintained stairs. The view from the bottom of the arch are well worth the extra effort.
  • Angel Windows: A moderately flat 0.6-mile out-and-back hike that ends with an unusual rock formation and magnificent overhanging cliff.
  • Rock Bridge Trail: A 1.25-mile loop trail that descends into an old-growth forest with exquisite wildflowers and ferns. Highlights include a gorgeous waterfall pouring into a secluded pond where kids can play in the shallow waters and the majestic Rock Bridge Arch spanning the aptly named Rock Bridge Creek.
  • Original Trail: A 0.75-mile one-way trail to the top of Natural Bridge. This difficult trail climbs over 400 feet through an impressive forest of hemlock, tulip, white pine trees, and thickets of rhododendron.
  • Auxier Ridge Trail: This moderate 5-mile loop follows a narrow ridgeline with perpetually photogenic views of the gorge below. For the best views per mile, take Auxier Ridge to the Courthouse Rock Trail, which returns hikers back to the Auxier Ridge Trail and the trailhead.

Climbing

Known as the Red, the Red River Gorge is highly regarded for the bolted single-pitch overhangs that draw some of the world's best climbers. While it is famous for its sport climbs, the Red's numerous walls offer a mix of sport and trad climbing and difficulty ratings that cross the spectrum from beginner to expert. A popular lunch spot is Miguel's Pizza and Climbers Campground, where you can consult with local experts. Have a locally made ginger ale and debate the most alluring climbs.

Camping

The paths from the parking areas along Tunnel Ridge Road offer dispersed camping. An overnight camping permit is required and available at the Gladie Visitor Center and several area businesses. Remember to camp more than 300 feet from the parking lot and road and more than 100 feet from the rock walls.

Koomer Ridge Campground is the only campground in the area operated by the Forest Service. It offers 54 tent sites and 15 RV sites with no hookups. All are first-come, first-served. A bathhouse and toilets are available during the warmer months. Primitive amenities are available all year.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

Sometimes

Pros

Great views. Rock formations. Variety of activities.

Cons

Rough roads.

Features

Geologically significant
Backcountry camping
Flushing toilets
Rock climbing
Waterfalls
Old-growth forest
Bird watching
Wildlife

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Red River Gorge Natural Geological Area

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