The 35 Best Climbing Spots in America

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The Southeast: Red River Gorge
David Coyle / Getty Images11/35

The Southeast: Red River Gorge

The most popular crag east of the Mississippi, the Red is known for its powerful, overhung sport routes and high-level test pieces. Stretched out over several miles of the Daniel Boone National Forest in eastern Kentucky, many of the United States’ iconic single-pitch climbs are here — including Pure Imagination and The Golden Ticket — and the sandstone is bullet-hard. In Slade, Miguel’s Pizza is the legendary epicenter of the RRG’s climbing community. “It’s the best place in America for overhung sport climbing, without a doubt,” Potter says. “The routes are pumpy and dynamic, and the sandstone’s friction is great. It’s a cultural spot for the Southern climbing scene, but you also find people from all over the world there.”

Closest Town: Slade, Kentucky

Grade Range: 5.6 – 5.14

Notable Routes: 1,597

Classics: 27 Years of Climbing (5.8), Plate Tectonics (5.9+), A Brief History of Climb (5.10b), Amarillo Sunset (5.11b), Jesus Wept (5.12d), Ultra-Perm (5.13d)

When to Visit: March-May, September-October

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