NEW RIVER GORGE
As those who have spent time in West Virginia know, this is truly a special place.Oliver Luck
About the Park
Our nation’s newest park, New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia, is a wild and wonderful whitewater river flowing through a deep canyon. The New River is oddly named since it is one of the oldest rivers in North America. The park also has the magnificent New River Gorge Bridge, the highest and longest steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
Check out the view from the gorge!
Live it up!
Best Things to do in the Park
- Go to the Canyon Rim Visitor Center for information about New River Gorge National Park
- Do the ”Bridge Walk”, where you walk the length of the New River Gorge Bridge under the roadway on a catwalk nearly 900 feet above the river below. It was the highlight for us!
- Take the old Fayette Station Road down to river level and great views of the bridge from below
- Visit the park on ”Bridge Day” (The third Saturday of October each year) and watch BASE jumpers and repellers do amazing things off the bridge
- Go whitewater rafting on the New River
The highlight of our trip was doing the fantastic ”Bridge Walk” on the New River Gorge Bridge. It is a walk just under the roadway on a 24-inch wide catwalk, roughly 800 feet above the river, all while safely clipped into a safety cable. It was an unforgettable experience for us. Check out the video here from our New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia.
Size of Park
This is the newest National Park in the United States.
The newest West Virginia National Park is The New River Gorge. It is located in West Virginia and preserves the New River Gorge in the Appalachian Mountains. One of the significant features of the park is the New River which is one of the oldest rivers on the continent.
Spread over 70,000 acres, the park has a rich natural history and offers tourists a wide range of recreational activities. There are more than ten mountains inside the park, with the highest one being Swell Mountain which is 3,291 feet in height.
Considered one of the most popular rock-climbing areas in the US, tourists in New River Gorge can choose from over 1,400 established rock climbs. Hunting is also permitted in certain designated areas in the park. Other activities in New River Gorge include whitewater rafting, biking, and birding.
Best hiking trails
If you want to enjoy New River Gorge’s beauty authentically, you must hike on its stunning trails!
Endless Wall Trail
This is the most popular trail in the park as it is easy to hike and offers some picturesque scenic views. This path has two trailheads; the Nuttall Parking Lot and the Endless Wall Trail trailhead. Many hikers prefer the Endless Wall Trail trailhead as you pass through enormous rhododendrons and trees.
Located in Canyon Rim, this 3-mile-long loop trail is famous for its overlooks along the “Endless Wall.” The Endless Wall is a line of Nuttall sandstone ridges that stand tall above the gorge and is stunning!
Castle Rock Trail
This loop trail is 1.8 miles long, and for an average hiker, it can take around an hour to complete. Generally considered an easy route, the trail only has a few steep climbs and descents that most people can manage.
As the name implies, the trail dips through many stony ravines before merging with the Grandview Rim Trail. While on the trail, you must maneuver through rocks and tree roots. These rocky walls are composed of various forms of sandstone and sediment over 300 million years old.
This is the shortest trail in the park, where you trek alongside massive sandstone cliffs. Starting from the Main Overlook, you will pass several cliffs and tunnels in the rock. The trail also passes beneath a large rock overhang, an exciting sight to behold. While the tunnels are closed due to safety concerns, you can still have a brief look at them from the entrance.
Long Point Trail
The entire trail is 3 miles long with an easy to moderate difficulty level. With an elevation of around 2,000 feet, it can take about 2 hours to finish this track. The Long Point Trail offers some of the best views of the New River Gorge Bridge.
Begin your hike from the Trailhead located on Newton Road, where you will find a parking lot and a pit toilet. There is a steep descent just a few kilometers into the trail, after which you will cross fields and forests before reaching a rock outcrop.
Kaymoor Miners Trail
Even though the hike is just 1.6 miles long, it is still considered strenuous because of the nature of this path. You begin your hike from the upper rim of the gorge, after which the trail rapidly descends towards the river.
The best thing about the trail is that it also takes you to the Kaymoor One Mining Complex, a historic coal mine. There are more than 800 steps that continue down to the remains of this coal processing plant. You will also get a quick history lesson as you hike on this route!
Camping in the Park
The New River Gorge National Park only offers only basic camping opportunities, and camping within 100 meters of developed trails is prohibited. The camping areas in the park include Stone Cliff Beach, Grandview Sandbar, War Ridge/Backus Mountain, Thayer, Gauley Tailwaters, Army Camp, Glade Creek, Brooklyn, and Meadow Creek.
All camping sites are located on maintained gravel roads with markets, service stations, and telephones nearby. You also have access to the river from all the camping sites except War Ridge. Moreover, none of these sites offer hookups or drinking water and have limited restroom facilities.
Camping options near the park
You can look at other camping options near the park if you want to camp in a developed area with more amenities. Chestnut Creek Campground, Rifrafters Campground, and Glade Creek Campground are some suitable camping sites just a few miles from the New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia.
- Chestnut Creek Campground is the closest to the park and has hot showers, lavatory stalls, and wash basins for dishwashing. Most camping sites are for smaller rustic tents; however, a few also accommodate trailers up to 20 ft.
- Rifrafters Campground is just 2 miles from the New River Gorge National Park and offers both tent and RV camping and rustic cabin rentals.
- Glade Creek Campground has five drive-in sites and six walk-in tent sites that provide guests with fire rings, picnic tables, and composting toilets.
Grandview Overlook, also called the Main Overlook, is situated near the Grandview Visitor Center. Located at a horseshoe bend in the New River, this overlook is a peaceful place to unwind and take in the natural beauty of New River Gorge.
As you stand on the overlook, you will see into the heart of the national park, including the New River and its watershed. Moreover, visitors can also spot the town of Quinnimont and an active railway in the distance.
Turkey Spur Overlook
The Turkey Spur overlook is another popular viewpoint in the park that is located on an elevation of over 1,000 feet and offers stunning views of the New River. To get to the overlook, you can drive on the Turkey Spur Road or hike the Grandview Rim Trail if you are in the mood. This viewpoint can also be considered an alternative to the Grandview Overlook.
Sandstone Falls is the largest waterfall on the New River. Being 1500 feet wide, the waterfall is divided by a series of islands that create an enchanting sight.
You can view lower and upper falls through a series of bridges and boardwalk trails. To get a closer view of the waterfall, you can hike to other viewpoints that involve scrambling up onto the rocks in the water.
New River Gorge Bridge
The New River Gorge Bridge was constructed in the 1970s to create a more convenient roadway. After the bridge was built, the 40-minute drive was reduced to
just under one minute. This bridge is the largest steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere. Be sure to book a ticket in advance for the BridgeWalk Experience, where you can walk the catwalk under the bridge. You can check out our video of our day doing this here.
Also, the third Saturday in October is Bridge Day, when the bridge is closed to traffic, and it becomes one of the most popular places to BASE Jump in the world. So you can join the fun and watch the sport even if you aren’t ready to jump.
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