If you’re planning your Kentucky adventures for the summer (and feel particularly adventurous!), here’s something you’ll find interesting: Breaks Interstate Park is now officially open for rock climbing.
Breaks Interstate Park – located in the Commonwealths of Kentucky and Virginia – is one of only two interstate parks in the nation. With an already impressive repertoire of recreational opportunities headlined by world class paddling in the Russell Fork River, rock climbing will strengthen its draw as a destination for adventure tourism.
Beginning in 2014 with a park-wide master planning process, local Pikeville climber Kylie Schmidt brought attention to the subject. Schmidt and other key partners worked to develop regulations, which were adopted by Breaks Interstate Park Commission in April of 2015.
“Having taken trips to the Red River Gorge and other popular climbing areas, I realized that the Breaks Park, my home park, had the same potential,” said Schmidt.
Park staff, the Access Fund and the Southwest Virginia Climbers Coalition worked to establish a Climbing Management plan that allows for a great deal of climbing access while still protecting sensitive areas of the park.
“Breaks is home to important plants and wildlife,” said Park Manager Austin Bradley. “We took a balanced approach and are now very excited to welcome rock climbers to the park. We expect this to have a positive economic impact on both the park and the entire region.”
“The Breaks is a fantastic and extensive sandstone climbing resource,” said Southeast Regional Director of the Access Fund Zachery Lesch-Huie. “This process has been one of the most successful park-climber partnerships.”
The Breaks Interstate Park canyon is lined with miles of orange and grey sandstone walls, similar to nearby climbing areas Obed Wild and Scenic River, and the New River Gorge in Tennessee and West Virginia, respectively. The Breaks currently contains 75 established routes, with the potential for hundreds more.
Climbers at the Breaks Interstate Park are required to get a free climbing permit which may be obtained at the Visitor Center or Lodge. Climbing is only open in approved areas of the park. Route information is available on www.mountainproject.com.