The New River Gorge in West Virginia is a National River, a part of the U.S. National Park System. Established in 1978, New River Gorge National River encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along 53 miles of the New River from Bluestone Dam to Hawk’s Nest Lake. A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep and spectacular canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on Earth.
While we were on our way from visiting West Virginia University to our next stop, The University of North Carolina Charlotte we stopped to stretch our legs and take in the view from the at the Canyon Rim Visitors Center. This was a total stop just for me. I saw an opportunity to get my National Parks Passport stamped, but it turned out to be a good stop for everybody.
Canyon Rim Visitors Center is just off U.S. Highway 19 near Fayetteville, WV. The center has a Ranger station a small museum and the typical National Park visitor center gift shop. What made this stop so special was the view out of the observation room. Honestly, it is spectacular. The only way it could have been any better would be in the fall as the leaves are changing color.
If you have more time than we did you can make a visit to the New River Gorge National River last few days. The African American Heritage Tour developed by New River Gorge National River and its partners to uncover and tell the stories of the many black coal miners, railroad workers, and other community members that helped shape this region.
Also, there are about 12 miles of mountain bike trails in the park and numerous hiking trails that offer 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. Several 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 trails easily connect 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.
A number of licensed outfitters offer guided trips on the New and Gauley Rivers.
The New River has trips available almost year-round, with the season running from April through October. Ranging from
mild pools and riffles on the upper parts or the river. Also, big whitewater rapids in the lower section, the New offers something for everyone.
The Gauley River is more for the whitewater enthusiast, with a number of steep and technical rapids. The main season is early-September through mid-October, though trips are sometimes available at other times of the year.
New River Gorge Bridge Day
Every third weekend in October, the New River Gorge Bridge and Fayetteville, WV host the largest legal BASE Jumping event in the world. Roughly 400 jumpers from around the world gather to jump off the bridge each year. The roughly equals one jumper every 30 seconds. If parachuting off of a perfectly good bridge is not your idea of fun, you can also repel or ride a zip line from the bridge to the gorge floor 800 feet below. Not a thrill seeker, there is also a 5k race, music festival and a food festival all the same day.
Read about another adventure to a National Park here.