Photo Credit: Mark Wetherington

The backcountry has the allure of fewer people, less hustle-bustle, and clear starry nights that show stars abound.

But what can we do when things don’t go as planned…

Wolfe County Search and Rescue would prefer not to be involved in your hike out. However, with the backcountry becoming more popular and with an increase in new campers traveling in for a night or two of camping, injuries seem to be on the rise.

Any frequenter of the formidable forest will have thinned out their pack and only carry essentials that have proven to be useful. They are also most likely written down on a packing list.

Aside from the tents and bags, stoves and dehydrated sustenance, one essential item is a pre-plan for problems and emergencies that may arise. A “what to do and how to do it” plan:

  1. A list of all cell phone numbers on the trip, back up charging capabilities, parking location/s, type of car parked, license plate details, insertion trail names and/or numbers, distance hiked per day, likely camping spots (with back-ups), and expected completion date back to your car (and exit if in a different location). And give this list to a close friend or to family.
  2. Make note of the last locations where you had cell signal. Maps (paper backups are a must) and directions back to both areas of cell signal and car (obviously).
  3. First aid kits will be helpful for minor issues along the way but be mindful of carrying non-useful items due to space, weight, and properly plan for the number of people in your camping party.
  4. Plan for getting split up and how to reconnect.

Know When to Call For Help

  1. Severe GI distress that leads to dehydration and the inability to self-extract.
  2. Dislocations, fractures, and other orthopedic injuries that you can not ambulate on
  3. Uncontrolled bleeding
  4. Head injuries that cause nausea, loss of consciousness, blurry vision, seeing stars, or other signs of concussion. These are serious injuries that could worsen if not handled correctly.
  5. Lost (or turned around if you prefer to tell your friends)

Know your limits: the above is not an all-encompassing list, it is merely a place to start. It is important to listen to your “body”. If you are not feeling up to it then postpone the start of your day.

Once you realize assistance is needed and can not evacuate yourself for any reason call 911!

If you are able to ambulate (mark your camp location on a map) then take only necessities and go back later to retrieve heavier supplies. (DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING BEHIND after you are feeling better). Have a camp mate drive you home or to the nearest medical care facility.

Medical Care Facilities in/near the Gorge

One of the benefits of The Red River Gorge is that the city life is far far away.
One of the downsides to the gorge is that Hospitals are far far away (potentially hours depending on your location).

Pre-plans should include all health care facilities, location, hours of operation, and phone numbers.

Use this list below to formulate your plan for emergencies:


Nearest Hospitals

Jackson, KY (south of Campton 30 minutes on KY 15)
Kentucky River Medical Center- 24-hour emergency room
540 Jett Dr, Jackson, KY 41339
(606) 666-6000

Winchester, KY (off of I-64 four miles west of the Mountain Parkway)
Clark Regional Medical Center-24 hour Emergency Room
175 Hospital Dr, Winchester, KY 40391
(859) 745-3500

Mt. Sterling, KY (North of Stanton 30 minutes)
CHI-St Joseph Health-24 hour Emergency Room
225 Falcon Dr, Mt Sterling, KY 40353
(859) 497-5000

University of Kentucky Medical Center (Lexington, KY)
Albert B. Chandler Hospital
800 Rose Street Pavilion H, Lexington, KY 40536
(859) 323-5000

Campton, KY: Clinic with the Most Hours Open

United Clinics of Kentucky M-F 0800- 1930
S-S 0900-1700

All Clinics in Campton can be found at:

Stanton, KY: Clinic with the Most Hours Open

Powell County Clinic M-F 0830-1700
S-S 0900-1600
(no website found)

All Clinics in Stanton can be found at:

Frenchburg, KY: Clinic with the Most Open Hours:

Community Family Clinic. M,T,Th,F 0800-1700
W 0800-1800

All Frenchburg Clinics can be found at:

Beattyville, KY:

United Clinics of Kentucky. Hours not posted

All Clinics of Beattyville can be found at: