Scenic and rugged, the Red River Gorge has long been one of Kentucky’s most beloved playgrounds, and Red River Gorge camping offers the chance to call this playground home—at least for a night or two.

An elaborate canyon system along the Red River in the east-central part of Kentucky, Red River Gorge is a 29,000-acre archeological district teeming with sandstone cliffs, waterfalls, natural bridges, and rock shelters. Visitors flock to the area for world-class climbing, icy cold swimming holes, and hiking and backpacking trails.

The Best of Red River Gorge Camping

Red River Gorge camping is the perfect way to experience all that the Red River Gorge has to offer. Luckily for campers, there are a number of Red River Gorge campgrounds to choose from. In addition to the campgrounds listed below, dispersed camping in the general forest area of the gorge is also permitted.

1. Koomer Ridge

black and white dog in the foreground of a koomer ridge campsite in the fall

Image from The Dyrt camper Brittany S.

Available on a first come, first served basis, Koomer Ridge Campground is the only developed Red River Gorge camping available on forest service land. The forested campground has 54 tent camping sites and 15 sites that can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet though there is no water or electric hookups and no dump station. The campground is open all year long and is conveniently located to 4 hiking trails.

“The campground… is a beautiful area on a hillside and there are many terrain features that make this place feel different from ordinary campground sites. We stayed in the back section, which is a bit elevated, almost a plateau area in Site 34. The sites are not on top of each other and offer better than average privacy compared to many other locations I’ve been to.” —The Dyrt camper Kyle H.

2. Red River Adventure Campground

The only riverside campground in the Red River Gorge, Red River Adventure Campground is a privately-owned campground on 10 acres of the tree-lined banks of the Red River. The campground is primitive, without power or water hookups, but great for campers that love to play on the water—there’s a canoe and kayak take-out on-site. Located in the heart of the Red River Gorge, this campground makes a great home base for exploring.

“What a nice quiet secluded spot. Such a friendly staff, reasonable prices, and well-maintained campground. We spent a great day in the river and an even better night in our hammocks!” —The Dyrt Camper Josh J.

3. Lago Linda

Popular with rock climbers, Lago Linda Campground is a privately-owned campground offering 35 campsites conveniently located to some of Red River Gorge’s best routes. Each campsite has water, and electricity can be purchased for $2. The nearby bathhouse provides hot showers and flush toilets. An on-site country café is a great place to hide out in inclement weather or to grab a snack before a day on the trails.

“Lago Linda’s is located in the Red River Gorge area, which makes it a great location for rock climbers to camp. It’s about a 15-minute drive to Muir Valley. The campground has flush toilets and showers, although they aren’t maintained the best. When we stayed there was one toilet in both the men’s and women’s restroom that was out of order. There is a nice cooking pavilion, drinking water on every site, and electric at the sites and pavilion. There’s also an indoor game room/reading area with a small library and board games. The pond is pretty clean and nice for a quick swim after a day of climbing.” –The Dyrt Camper Jess O.

4. Callie’s Lake and Campground in Red River Gorge

Image from The Dyrt camper Lauren M.

Offering RV and primitive tent camping, Callie’s Lake and Campground is located just five minutes from the Red River Gorge. Set on 50 acres, Callie’s has over 45 level campsites for both RV and tent campers to enjoy. RV sites have 30 and 50 amp hookups. Aside from its close location to the gorge, Callie’s also boasts a 4 acre fully stocked lake for visitors to cast their poles in.

5. Land of the Arches Campground

Well-known as a top climber’s destination, Land of the Arches (aka LOTA), is a great campground with bathrooms, hot showers, free WiFi and an indoor recreation area with air hockey and table tennis where campers can entertain themselves on a rainy day. LOTA offers tent and hammock camping, a limited number of RV campsites with electric hookups and a dump station, and “indoor camping” for those that don’t quite feel like roughing it.

“This is in the heart of the Red River Gorge and super close to Muir Valley. Great climbing campground that is fairly affordable ($8 per person per night). The only thing is they don’t allow dogs, except at the annual Rocktoberfest festival.” —The Dyrt Camper Theresa D.

6. Miguel’s Pizza

A private rock climber’s campground, Miguel’s Pizza is well-known and loved by climbers. With four flat fields for pitching an unlimited number of tents, climbers come from all around to enjoy camaraderie, share stories, shop at Miguel’s Rock Climbing Shop, and eat some of Miguel’s epic pizza. The campground has coin-operated showers, laundry machines, and two covered pavilions for cooking.

“For a few bucks per carload, Miguel’s camping spot contains a few open field areas situated between the Climbing Gear Shop and the famous pizza spot. A true hippie haven and Appalachian favorite, the compound also boasts three covered shelters, a basement area for a relaxing hangout, a half court for basketball, and few token-operated shower stalls, and a half dozen toilets. Miguel’s is generous with prices and with trust.” –The Dyrt Camper Tracy Jo I.

7. Middle Fork Campground

Nestled into the Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Middle Fork Campground is surrounded by the Daniel Boone National Forest and just a short drive away from the Red River Gorge. The 2,200-acre nature preserve has 60 miles of trails, a lake, and two campgrounds (the other is Whittleton, listed below.)

Middle Fork Campground has 40 campsites, 17 of which are standard electric sites and can accommodate RVs. The other 23 sites are for tents only. After a long day of hiking or climbing, soak your feet in the creek that runs right next to camp.

“This was the last spot we stayed at while at the Red and we were thankful for the creek that flows through it so we could soak our achy feet! It’s good campground for a quick stop if you don’t feel like backpacking to the primitive sites.” —The Dyrt Camper Alan B.

8. Whittleton Campground

looking up at the stone whittleton arch surrounded by naked winter trees in the red river gorge

Image from The Dyrt camper Amber A.

The second campground at Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Whittleton Campground also has 40 campsites, 17 of which are standard electric sites and 23 for tents only. Campers report that summertime is the busiest time of year to camp and reservations are recommended in those warmer months. Bathrooms are clean, the campground well maintained and there are many beautiful hiking trails nearby.

“For a little privacy stay in the back of the campground. Most spots are level, paved (or packed gravel). Shower room was nice and pretty clean. Whittleton Arch (another natural bridge) is across the street from campground – was a great hike and it allows dogs (Natural Bridge Park does not).” –The Dyrt Camper Don C.

9. Natural Bridge Campground

Surrounded by mountains, cliffs, and gorges, Natural Bridge Campground is a small, private campground offering primitive tent sites as well as sites with electric and water hookups. The campground has flush toilets and a bathhouse with hot showers. Many of the campsites are shaded and located right on the Red River. The campground is open seasonally from early April through late October, and makes a great home base for all Red River Gorge adventures.

Kim Dinan

Kim Dinan

Kim Dinan is an author and adventurer. Endlessly curious about the world, she has backpacked to over twenty-five countries on five continents and has called India, Mexico and numerous campgrounds around the USA home. Her love of the outdoors landed her a coveted job on Backpacker Magazine’s Get Out More Tour and has compelled her to climb mountains in the Himalayas, raft frigid rivers in Patagonia, and walk five hundred and fifty miles across Spain on her own. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her family.