The Economics of Rock Climbing at Red River Gorge

Red River Gorge pic
Red River Gorge
Image: redrivergorge.com

An Iraqi war veteran and retired Air Force brigadier general, Robert P. Givens serves as president of RPG Consulting, a firm he also founded. Outside of work, Robert P. Givens pursues a number of outdoor activities, including rock climbing.

An internationally popular rock-climbing destination is the Red River Gorge in Kentucky. The area has numerous routes, great natural beauty, and remarkable sandstone crags.

A recent study revealed that around 7,500 domestic and international climbers visit the area each year. An estimated $3.6 million is spent by these climbers annually in the six counties through which the gorge runs. Some of these counties have among the lowest median incomes in the country; opening up more areas for climbers could result in improved economic activities in these counties.

Yet there numerous factors to consider before more areas can be opened. Among them are historical and cultural aspects, as some areas contain native artifacts that the presence of climbers might affect. The environmental impact must also be evaluated. There are rare animals and plants at the site, and some plants are the only ones of their kind in the world.

It is hoped that the study can help various stakeholders to unite and find common ground to the benefit of all concerned.

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