Where to eat, sleep and play in Kentucky's Red River Gorge

Photo contributed by kentuckytourism.com / Sunset over Red River Gorge.

Kentucky isn't just rolling hills filled with horses and bourbon distilleries. Filled with majestic sandstone cliffs and natural arches, Kentucky's Red River Gorge boasts world-class climbing and top-notch hiking with stunning scenery and geological formations unlike anything else on this side of the Mississippi.

Where to hike:

Original Natural Bridge Trail. A little more than a mile out-and-back, this moderately difficult trail (there's a bit of an incline, with an elevation gain of 400 feet) is a must-do in the area. The natural sandstone arch is technically not in the Red River Gorge, but rather the adjacent Natural Bridge State Resort Park. Due to the steepness this one's best when it's dry.

photo Photo contributed by kentuckytourism.com / Natural Bridge

Where to climb:

Boasting more than 100 cliffs and 4,000 routes, the Red is a climber's dream that's known primarily for sport climbing and single-pitch routes. Go during the week or on weekend mornings to avoid the crowds drawn to this climbing mecca. The Access Fund lists Party Time (5.7), Rock Wars (5.10) and Cell Block Six (5.12) as a few of the area's best classic climbs. See the complete list at accessfund.org.

photo Photo contributed by kentuckytourism.com / Red River Gorge is a climbing mecca.

Where to sleep:

Koomer Ridge Campground. This semi-primitive campground in Daniel Boone National Forest, which surrounds the Red, is super accessible for car camping. It has 54 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis; and water and showers are available from April through October. 606-668-7939

Where to eat:

Miguel's Pizza. This legendary base camp for the climbing community also has pretty good pizza, with more than a zillion toppings available (try the chorizo). Despite being relatively out of the way, this place has quite a following so come knowing that you may have to wait a bit. 1890 Natural Bridge Road; 606-663-1975; miguelspizza.com

Where to drink:

Sky Bridge Station. This roadside brewery offers local beers on tap and yummy burgers, quesadillas and gourmet hot dogs ideal for a post-hike meal. Need a place to stay? The space also includes a two-room hostel with a total of 11 single beds. Live music is common on the weekends - check Sky Bridge's Instagram to see what's coming up. 20 Sky Bridge Road; 606-668-9927.

photo Photo contributed by kentuckytourism.com / Nada Tunnel