Caving, climbing, and camping are on the agenda at this national geological area.
Real-life adventure playgrounds rarely come as impressive as Kentucky's Red River Gorge. Carved out by the Wild and Scenic Red River and cocooned within Daniel Boone National Forest, the soaring cliffs, natural arches, and cascading waterfalls provide a dramatic backdrop for outdoor activities. Rock climbing is the quintessential pastime—"The Red" is one of the world’s top destinations—but you can also hike, horseback ride, kayak, or zipline. Four-season camping is possible at Red River, but we recommend spring or fall, when mild weather combines with seasonal wildflowers and epic fall foliage views.
Follow the 46-mile Red River Gorge Scenic Byway for spectacular views across the gorge, admire the unique rock formations and natural arches along the Angel Window or Sheltowee trails, or put your rock climbing and rappelling skills to the test. Koomer Ridge campground is the only developed campground in the main gorge area, but you’ll also find private campgrounds, cabins, yurts, and treehouses with views of the gorge.
The 900-foot-long Nada Tunnel marks the western entrance to the Red River Gorge, and some of the most renowned rock formations and arches can be found nearby. Further north, the Daniel Boone National Forest is nirvana for hikers, and self-sufficient campers can enjoy dispersed camping throughout the national forest land. Or, for a change of scenery, head away from the gorge to enjoy boating, fishing, and lakeside camping at Cave Run Lake.
The Natural Bridge State Resort Park encompasses much of the southwestern region of the Red River Gorge, where you’ll find some of the most easily accessible hikes and campgrounds. Hike or ride the Skylift to the park’s namesake Natural Bridge, rent a kayak or canoe along the river, then check in one of the campgrounds or rent a cozy cottage. Nearby, Muir Valley is a popular spot for rock climbing, while Campton is the starting point for ziplining excursions across the gorge.
If you’re looking to escape the crowds, pack your tent and hit the trails of the vast Clifty Wilderness area. Dense forests, rugged ridges, and streams provide plenty of tranquil backcountry camping spots, or you can bring your kayak or canoe to paddle the wild waterways of the Red River. In the southeastern corner of the gorge, the Rock Bridge Trail is a perennial favorite, with views of the natural bridge and waterfall.