Fishing & Boating in the Northwoods

Rock Climbing in the Red River Gorge

rock climbing

The rain that had taken a break and allowed us to observe some of the workouts at Keeneland began anew, and a cold wind added to the discomfort, so we packed it in and headed east and south to Natural Bridge State Park, with a brief stop in the Red River Gorge Geologic area of the Daniel Boone National Forest, a magnificent and beautiful area, comprised of sandstone and limestone, carved out by nature over a period of millions of years. Here can be found the largest concentration of arches and rock shelters east of the Rocky Mountains — places in which native Indians and possibly even Daniel Boone once stayed. It’s also a great place for rock climbing!

Go Climb a Rock

Our first destination was Red River Outdoors — a venue that offers rental canoes for individuals or groups, comfortable and secluded cabins with plenty of amenities, guided and instructional rock climbing from beginner to advanced (for those requiring a bit more of an adrenaline rush) and plenty of Kentucky hospitality. I’m sure that we looked pretty green (as well as pretty out of shape) but Amy (one of the owners) took us on a brief tour of the property where the majority of the climbing takes place and then very nonchalantly asked if we were ready to climb…

I probably wasn’t, but the sandstone wall in front of us appeared to be almost vertical! The rain had once again stopped so, undaunted we both slipped on the harnesses and climbing shoes that were available for those of us who are unprepared novices, and then we attempted an ascent. Neither Yvonne nor I got very far up the wall… but at least we tried. And I do have to admit that I now understand why people get into climbing mountains.

It’s more than simply a case of “Because it’s there” and I don’t believe that I can adequately describe the sensation. But it was a lot of fun and something that I would encourage you to try. Amy shared with us that lots of people drive to the area all the way from the Chicago area every weekend, just to scale these cliffs. Try it for yourselves and you’ll surely understand why. It’s a great place for novice or experienced climbers, as well as groups that want to share an exceptional experience. We thanked our gracious hosts for their patience and headed back down the road to our next night’s lodging in Hemlock Lodge at Natural Bridge State Park.

rock climbing at red river

Miguel’s Pizza & Rock-Climbing Shop

Before entering the Park, we stopped at Miguel’s Pizza and Rock- Climbing Shop for a bite to eat. Not only is this little gem a hang-out for climbers, it is a picturesque — and inexpensive ($2 per person per night) — spot to pitch a tent and camp for a night or two. They have some of the best pizza I have tasted: Miguel makes his own dough and pizza sauce every morning and always has a couple dozen different toppings available.

The place also has all the requisite rock-climbing equipment you would need. And you can scour the ‘net, but you simply will not find anything less than a five-star review of the place. The parking lot is always full, and that is testament to the quality of the food. Even as the rain started again, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the climbers we saw there. It’s a must-stop destination, whether you are a climber or not!

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R. Karl

Angler, Author & Epicure

Fishing since the age of eight.  Seriously writing since the age of 16. Chef and foodie from the age of 22 years… and counting. So much to learn and so little time. I have enjoyed every minute of it all.  Whether on the water (where I like it best), in the kitchen, or at the keyboard, churning out content, I feel like I have found my place.  I am sharing it with you in the hope that some of what I love to do will rub off on you. I hope to see you On the Lake!

R. Karl