Camping in and around the Red River Gorge is a great way to enjoy your visit. Whether you are car camping or backpacking and hauling your belongings there are many great options to meet everyone’s wishes. For backpackers, please make sure to refer to the rules & regulations, and backpackers will absolutely need a parking pass.
We have divided the camping options in to 3 groups. We discuss backpacking locations that are near a stream and backpacking options that are away from water (normally near an overlook,) and we have a car camping option. Many of the backpacking options are on unofficial trails (in order to comply with the rules & regulations.) Many of those unofficial trails require a GPS or compass and map and the knowledge to use those tools. Enjoy!
Backpacking Along a Stream
1. Red Byrd Arch Area – About 1-1.5 miles to campsite. There are a minimum of 5 fabulous options for camping along this unmarked trail following the Red River. You do NOT need to go to all the way to Red Byrd Arch to enjoy one of these great campsites.
2. Snow Arch/Deer Creek Arch Area – Less than 1 mile to campsite – You have several good options along the unofficial trail along Copperas Creek. The last spot before turning off along a smaller creak up to the arches is very large and would be perfect for a group or an individual.
3. Rock Creek/Turtle Back Arch Area (not for large groups) – 2 miles to campsite- There are several smaller campsites after turning off trail #219 Swift Camp Creek Trail onto the unofficial trail up to Turtle Back Arch. There are several other unofficial trails off of trail #219 Swift Camp Creek Trail, just make sure to comply with the rules and regulations.
Backpacking with a View
1. Ledford Arch Area – 2 miles to campsite- There are a bunch of good options for camping after turning out the unmarked trail off Trail #221 Rough Trail leading out Pinch-Em Tight Ridge. There are also several other unmarked trails off of Trail #221 Rough Trail.
2. Adena Arch Area – less than 1 mile to campsite. If you hike this in reverse there are several camping options on the unofficial trail near Adena Arch. If you continue to the Indian Staircase we recommend doing it without a backpack as it would be difficult and dangerous to climb the Indian Staircase with a backpack.
3. Indian Staircase Area 2 miles to campsite. We suggest hiking this loop in reverse as an in and out hike (not loop) if you are backpacking. We do not recommend carrying backpacks over the Indian Staircase. While you will pass through the largest natural shelter in the gorge it is absolutely prohibited to camp there, but there are many other good options nearby.
1. Koomer Ridge Campground – Private campground (there is a nightly fee) in the Red River Gorge Geological Area.