Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Sherwood Thompson

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

James N. Maples

Department Affiliation

Anthropology, Sociology, and Social Work

Third Advisor

Ryan L. Sharp

Department Affiliation

Recreation and Park Administration


Rock Climbing is becoming a very popular and mainstream outdoor activity. With the growth in rock climbing comes an increase in the numbers of visitors that this sport attracts. The increase in visitor usage undoubtedly leads to an impact on the natural environment surrounding these rock climbing areas. Rock climbers acknowledge the impacts that are being made and are taking initiative to lessen their impacts while they are visiting rock climbing areas such as the Red River Gorge in rural southeast Kentucky. We know that rock climbers make a substantial economic impact while visiting and this dissertation looks at the environmental knowledge and background on leave no trace practices and principles. This research investigates the knowledge and behavior of minimal impact practices of rock climbers in the Red River Gorge while rock climbing. Specifically looking at the more knowledge one has on minimizing their environmental impact the greater chance of their behaviors being minimal and becoming environmental stewards of the land.