New River Gorge National River

New River Gorge National River

Quick Facts

New River Gorge National River

West Virginia

(209) 536-9094

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

A rugged, white water river, flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. Located in southern West Virginia, New River Gorge National River was established in 1978 to conserve and protect 53 miles of the New River as a free-flowing waterway. This unit of the National Park System encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River between the towns of Hinton and Fayetteville. The park and surrounding area are rich in cultural and natural history, with an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.

Map of New River Gorge

Latitude, Longitude: 37.786996, -80.900574

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Activities

  • Boating

    The New River begins high in the mountains of western North Carolina, crosses Virginia, and enters West Virginia near its southernmost tip. It then heads north to join the Gauley River, and form the Kanawha River. In so doing, it manages to transect every ridge of the Alleghenies. Its name is actually a misnomer in that it may be one of the oldest rivers in the world.

    New River Gorge National River includes 53 miles of free-flowing New River, beginning at Bluestone Dam and ending at Hawks Nest Lake. The New River typifies big West Virginia style whitewater. Within the park it has two very different characters. The upper (southern) part of the river consists primarily of long pools, and relatively easy rapids up to Class III. It is a big powerful river, but very beautiful, always runnable, and providing excellent fishing and camping. There are a number of different river access points, and trips can run from several hours to several days.

    The lower (northern) section of river is often referred to as "the Lower Gorge." In a state that is justifiably renowned for colossal rapids, the Lower Gorge has some of the biggest of the big with rapids ranging in difficulty from Class III to Class V. The rapids are imposing and forceful, many of them obstructed by large boulders which necessitate maneuvering in very powerful currents, crosscurrents, and hydraulics. Some rapids contain hazardous undercut rocks. Although the gradient is a modest 20 ft/mi, the rapids are of the full-grown West Virginia variety: big, brawny, and bodacious!

  • Bicycling

    The beautiful landscapes and less challenging bike routes make the New River Gorge among the most popular destinations for mountain biking trips in the eastern U.S. Bike shops, mountain biking trails, outfitters and companies offering guided biking tours of the New River Gorge and nearby areas may be found throughout the region.

    The park currently allows bicycles on the following trails within New River Gorge National River: Brooklyn to Southside Junction, Cunard to Kaymoor Trail, Stonecliff Trail, and Thurmond to Minden Trail. Bicycles are also permitted on the Bluestone Turnpike Trail at Bluestone National Scenic River. Mountain biking trails are also found at nearby Summersville Lake and Little Beaver State Park. Cyclist are asked to follow these rules and guidelines: Only ride on trails open to bicyles. Leave not trace - pack it in, pack it out. Control your bicycle! Be considerate of other trail users. Do not disturb or scare birds or animals. Plan ahead.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    The Fayette Station Road Tour is a one hundred year-old road of hairpin turns that winds down to the bottom of New River Gorge, across a narrow bridge, and up the other side. A narrated cd is available as a guide to the drive.

  • Camping

    New River Gorge National River provides opportunities for primitive camping only. Camping areas are located along the river. These primitive camping areas have no drinking water or hookups, and limited restroom facilities. All sites are managed on a first come, first-served basis. There are no fees for camping, but campers are required to register with a ranger at the earliest opportunity. Stays are limited to 14 days in the same area. Developed campgrounds are available at state parks and private campgrounds throughout the surrounding area.

    There are five primitive camping areas within the park. All are located on maintained gravel roads, but are often located some distance from service stations, markets, and telephones. All of the camping areas provide easy access to the river for fishing and swimming. When swimming, be advised that the New River has powerful currents, rocky banks and shoals, and sudden dropoffs. Always treat the New River with respect and wear a life jacket.

    The five camping areas are:

    Stone Cliff Beach - Located off Route 25 near Thurmond. Follow the Stone Cliff signs. Six walk-in and one vehicle site. Army Camp - Located on an unmarked dirt road, off Route 41 near Prince. Coming from Beckley, it is the first left after crossing the New River. Eleven vehicle sites. Grandview Sandbar - Located on Glade Creek Road, off Route 41 near Prince. Coming from Beckley, it is a well-marked right hand turn before crossing the New River. Four walk-in and twelve vehicle sites. Glade Creek - Located at the end of Glade Creek Road, off Route 41 near Prince. Coming from Beckley, it is a well-marked right hand turn before crossing the New River. Six walk-in and five vehicle sites. War Ridge/Backus Mountain - Turn right onto Backus Road, drive approximately 1 ½ miles and turn right at the gravel road at the first National Park Service bulletin board (SR 22/7). War Ridge Campground is located on your right approximately ½ mile off Backus Road. Eight vehicle sites.

  • Climbing

    Within the 63,000 acres of New River Gorge National River are over 1,400 established rock climbs. "The New" has become one of the most popular climbing areas in the country. The cliffs at New River Gorge are made up of a very hard sandstone, and range from 30 to 120 feet in height. The rock is very featured, and an abundance of crack and face routes are available. Most of the routes in the gorge favor the advanced and expert climber. The majority of routes are 5.9 and harder, and most sport routes fall in the 5.10 - 5.12 range. A guidebook is an essential tool for locating climbs, and local climbing shops can offer information and specific recommendations.

  • Fishing

    Contact the park for more information.

  • Hiking

    New River Gorge National River provides a variety of different trails throughout the park. Peaceful forest trails, superb overlooks, and historic scenery are all found here. The trails available consist of park service trails that are marked and maintained, trails within lands administered by state parks, and undeveloped trails and abandoned roads.

    Trails range from 1/4 mile to 7 miles in length. Several can be easily connected to make for longer excursions. Difficulty varies from flat, smooth walking to steep challenging terrain. Trail recommendations and maps are offered at Canyon Rim, Grandview, Sandstone, and Thurmond visitor centers. Much of the land within the National Park Service authorized boundaries remains private property: please respect the owners' rights.

  • Horseback Riding

    Contact the park for more information.

  • Hunting

    Hunting is allowed in the park, with certain restrictions. Check with park officials for more information.

  • Picnicking

    Contact the park for more information.

  • Water Sports

    Contact the park for more information.

  • Wildlife Watching

    Peregrine Falcons have been restored to the area and there is a special program in place to help increase their numbers. Bats are also abundant. Hellbenders reside in the New River Gorge River and blend in with rocks.

    Some of the wildlife that lives in the park: bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons, kingfishers, numerous ducks and migrating waterfowl (loons, cormorants and hooded mergansers) in winter, beaver, mink, muskrat, river otter, northern water snakes, assorted aquatic turtles (river cooters, stinkpots and snapping), aquatic insects (Dobson flies(hellgrammites) dragon files, mayflies and damsel flies), hellbenders (large aquatic salamander), spike mussels, Asiatic clams

Seasonality/Weather

The park is open year-round. Canyon Rim and Sandstone Visitor Centers are open daily (except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Thurmond Depot and Grandview operate seasonally June through August. Thurmond Depot's seasonal hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Grandview is open seasonally from 12:00 Noon to 5:00 PM.

Directions

Driving

Highway access is from Route 19, between Beckley and Hico, and from I-64, between Mossy and Sandstone.

Flying

Charleston WV, approximately 70 miles northwest of the park, is the closest major airport. Some flights are also available nearby at Beckley WV.

Public Transportation

Amtrak service is available to three locations in the park, three days a week. The Cardinal, traveling between Chicago and New York, NY, makes scheduled stops at Hinton and Prince, with Thurmond as a flag stop for passengers with reservations.

Greyhound has a bus terminal in Beckley.

Taxi services are based in Oak Hill and Beckley.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(209) 536-9094

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