When I started climbing in the Red 11 years ago, there was only one choice for a climbing guidebook for the area. Since that time, an explosion of development in the Southern Region of Red River Gorge has prompted new books to be published. With over 3000 climbs now in the area, there was too much to fit into just one book.

There are now six high quality guidebooks available for the Red River Gorge, 3 of which  cover, comprehensively, separate regions of the Red River Gorge. Namely the Northern Region, the Southern Region, and the Miller Fork. Additionally, there are 2 “best of” guidebooks each of which attempt to condense the most classic and popular walls throughout the area into a single book, as well as a comprehensive Sport climbing guidebook. Let us help you sort through all the choices!

Our Top Pick For Traveling Climbers

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The Red – 2nd Edition (2022). Brendan Leader. $35.00 ISBN:0958079099

The second edition of the popular “The Red” guidebook includes all of the Sport Climbing crags in the area along with the trad climbs within those sport climbing areas. This book currently leaves out most trad climbing only areas so if trad is your thing you might want to pick up the Red River Gorge “North” guidebook. “The Red – 2nd Edition” is currently the most up to date guidebook for Red River Gorge with the new edition adding about 250 new climbs since the last edition. Overall it’s a great bang for your buck for most Climbers traveling to the region. We really like the format and layout of the book, and how up to date the info is. 







Our Top Pick For Locals

These guidebooks are the most comprehensive for the area, bar none. They’re a great choice for locals and collectors who want to have it all. They are slightly more out of date when compared with “The Red” but offer more detailed descriptions and pictures than the aforementioned in general. Additionally “The Red River Gorge North” is a great choice for those who plan on doing a lot of trad climbing in the region. *Rumor has it that a new edition of both of these books is coming out soon, so look out for that in Fall 2022 or Spring 2023.*

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Red River Gorge North – Volume 1 (2015 5th Edition)  Ray Ellington and Dustin Stephens. $28.00 ISBN:1938393201

Covers the crags north of the Mountain Parkway. Including many of the classic trad lines in the Red.

Red River Gorge South – Volume 2 (2017 5th Edition) Ray Ellington and Blake Bowling. $33.00 ISBN:1938393279

Covers the crags south of the Mountain Parkway excluding Miller Fork, includes many of the classic sport lines in the Red.

Miller Fork Climbing (2015 Edition)  Ray Ellington. $39.95 ISBN:9780692471128

Covers Miller Fork though due to being published when the MFRP first opened, this edition is not particularly up to date.

Our Top Picks for “Best of” Books

The following Guidebooks are a good choice for those who only plan to spend a short time in Red River Gorge and want to hit up all the classics, though we would personally recommend passing on the “Best Of” in favor of “The Red” if you’re looking to buy just one book for the area, since it includes much more comprehensive and around the same price, as well as being more up to date than the current “Best Of” books. Nonetheless, if you only have a short time in the area and want a more concise summary of the best routes, these books would be a good choice… and of course we had to pick up both books for our collection!

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Red River Gorge Select – Guide to the best crags in the North, South, and Miller Fork  (2018 Edition)  Dario Ventura, Mike Williams $39 ISBN:1938393325 

Covers a large selection of the most popular sport and trad crags throughout the gorge.

Best of the Red – Sport Climbing Crags of the Red River Gorge (2017 Edition)  Brendan Leader. $30.00 ISBN:9780994278456

Covers a huge selection of the best sport crags in the north, south and Miller Fork Recreational Preserve (MFRP).


Learn about the terminology used in these books and how to navigate using these guidebooks in our Gym to Crag and Beginner Climbing Courses.