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Maples and Bradley release 2020 Red River Gorge climbing study

cover of report climbers spend $8.7 million in Kentucky's Red River Gorge

Dr. James Maples (EKU Sociology) and Dr. Michael Bradley (Arkansas Tech Univ.) have released their 2020 economic impact study of rock climbing in Kentucky's Red River Gorge. Results include:

  1. Climbers spend an estimated $8.7 million each year in the Red River Gorge. This is up from $3.8 million following Maples' 2015 study on the same community. 
  2. Climber expenditures support an estimated 104 jobs and $2.6 million in wages each year. 
  3. Climbers spend an average of around $75 per trip. 
  4. Recent increases in spending are explained by increases in visitations, expanded spending opportunities in the region, and local businesses courting climbers as clientele. 
  5. Climbers in the Red are well-educated professionals with 84% holding a Bachelor or higher degree.

Kentucky's Red River Gorge is a world-famous sport climbing destination and receives over 102,000 climbing visits each year. Dr. Maples has also written a book on the history of this climbing community. The book will be available in September from West Virginia University Press.

The study was conduced by EKU's new Division of Regional Economic Assessment and Modeling (DREAM), led by Dr. Maples. 

The full report is available here. A video of the presentation is embedded below. 

Published on June 29, 2021

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