New River Gorge Overview

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, located in West Virginia, USA, is the nation’s newest national park, designated in December 2020. Spanning over 70,000 acres (approximately 283 square kilometers), this park is celebrated for its stunning landscapes, rich cultural history, and diverse recreational opportunities. At the heart of the park is the New River Gorge, carved by one of the world’s oldest rivers. The New River is a paradox by name, as it is actually considered among the oldest rivers on Earth, flowing northward through deep canyons and lush forests.

The park’s rugged terrain and scenic beauty are highlighted by the New River Gorge Bridge, an engineering marvel and one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. Standing 876 feet (267 meters) above the river, the bridge dramatically reduces travel time across the gorge from 45 minutes to just about one minute, and it hosts the annual Bridge Day festival, which celebrates the daring sport of BASE jumping.

New River Gorge National Park offers an array of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including whitewater rafting, with the New River providing some of the best whitewater experiences in the eastern United States. The park’s extensive network of trails caters to hikers and mountain bikers of all skill levels, offering breathtaking views of the gorge, river, and surrounding mountains. Rock climbing is also a popular activity, with the gorge’s sandstone cliffs offering over 1,400 established rock climbs.

The area’s rich history is preserved within the park, from Native American heritage to the remnants of the coal mining industry that once thrived in the region. Visitors can explore historic sites and learn about the people who shaped this landscape.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a place of natural wonder and historical significance, offering visitors the chance to explore its unique landscapes, partake in thrilling outdoor adventures, and discover the stories of America’s newest national park.

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Park Map
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New River Gorge National Park Highlights


New River Gorge National Park, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and the ancient river that carves through it, is a sanctuary for wildlife, where diverse species thrive in the park’s forests, rivers, and cliffs, offering visitors a chance to witness the vibrant life that pulses through this rugged slice of Appalachian wilderness.

White-tailed Deer Common throughout the park, White-tailed Deer are a familiar sight, gracefully moving through forests and meadows, especially noticeable at dawn and dusk.

Black Bear Symbolizing the wild heart of the Appalachians, Black Bears are observed across the park, from dense woodlands to river corridors, embodying the spirit of wilderness.

River Otter Once nearly vanished from the area, River Otters have made a remarkable comeback, now seen playing and fishing in the park’s waterways, a joy to watch.

Peregrine Falcon After successful reintroduction efforts, Peregrine Falcons now soar above the gorge, their incredible speed and agility on display as they hunt for prey.

Bald Eagle The majestic Bald Eagle, a symbol of American freedom, is spotted along the New River, a testament to the park’s healthy aquatic ecosystems.

Raccoon Ubiquitous and curious, Raccoons are often encountered by visitors, especially at campsites, showcasing their adaptability and mischievous nature.

Eastern Box Turtle Moving slowly through the underbrush, Eastern Box Turtles are a colorful and endearing presence, their domed shells a mosaic of earthy hues.

Turkey Wild Turkeys are a common and impressive sight, their large flocks moving through the park’s forests and fields, especially noticeable in the early morning.

Bat Species Several bat species, crucial for insect control, navigate the night skies of the park, a vital component of the ecosystem’s health and balance.

Red Fox The sleek Red Fox, with its distinctive bushy tail and reddish fur, can occasionally be seen at dusk or dawn, a silent hunter of the woods.

New River Gorge National Park’s wildlife, from the agile River Otter to the soaring Bald Eagle, enriches the visitor experience, illustrating the beauty and resilience of Appalachian nature in one of America’s newest national parks.

New River Gorge National Park Pictures

Engaging New River Gorge

Experience the thrill of navigating the rapids of the New River Gorge on a whitewater rafting adventure. Join a guided rafting trip led by experienced outfitters, who will lead you through exciting Class III to V rapids as you traverse the scenic canyon.

Feel the rush of adrenaline as you paddle through swirling whitewater, navigate challenging drops, and take in breathtaking views of the rugged gorge walls towering above. Whitewater rafting in New River Gorge offers an exhilarating and unforgettable outdoor experience for thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Explore the scenic trails of New River Gorge National Park on a hiking adventure. Traverse through lush forests, along rocky ridges, and to breathtaking overlooks that offer panoramic views of the gorge below.

Choose from a variety of hiking trails suited for all skill levels, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging treks. Highlights include the Endless Wall Trail, which winds along the rim of the gorge and offers stunning views of the river below, and the Long Point Trail, which leads to a scenic overlook with sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Experience the beauty of New River Gorge from the comfort of your car on scenic drives through the park. Cruise along winding roads that offer breathtaking views of the rugged canyon, lush forests, and rushing river below.

Stop at designated overlooks and viewpoints to capture photographs of the stunning landscapes and perhaps spot wildlife along the way. The Grandview Rim Scenic Drive and the Fayette Station Road offer some of the most scenic routes in the park, with opportunities for sightseeing, wildlife viewing, and enjoying the natural beauty of the gorge.

Challenge yourself to scale the vertical cliffs of New River Gorge on a rock climbing adventure. With over 1,400 established climbing routes, the gorge is a world-renowned destination for climbers of all skill levels.

Test your skills on challenging routes that range from beginner-friendly to advanced, and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscapes as you ascend the rock walls. Whether you’re a seasoned climber or a novice looking to try something new, rock climbing in New River Gorge offers endless opportunities for adventure and exploration in a breathtaking natural setting.

New River Gorge National Park Trails

Endless Wall Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2.4 miles loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: This trail offers breathtaking views of the New River Gorge from atop the cliff line. Known for its stunning overlooks, especially at Diamond Point, hikers can enjoy the beauty of the gorge and the river below. The trail is relatively flat, making it accessible for most hikers, and is particularly beautiful in the fall.

Long Point Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 400 feet (122 meters)

Description: Leading to one of the most iconic views of the New River Gorge Bridge, the Long Point Trail is a favorite among photographers and sightseers. The trail is well-marked and ends with a dramatic overlook providing a clear view of the bridge against the backdrop of the gorge.

Grandview Rim Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 miles one way with an elevation gain of about 500 feet (152 meters)

Description: This trail connects the Main Overlook at Grandview to Turkey Spur, offering expansive views of the New River Gorge. Along the way, hikers can enjoy diverse forest ecosystems and multiple scenic overlooks. The trail’s end at Turkey Spur provides a panoramic view of the gorge.

Kaymoor Miners Trail

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 820 feet (250 meters), including stairs

Description: This challenging trail takes hikers down to the historic Kaymoor Mine site, offering a glimpse into the area’s coal mining past. The trail is steep and includes a series of stairs but rewards hikers with views of abandoned mining structures and equipment.

Sandstone Falls Boardwalk

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 0.25 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: Accessible and family-friendly, this short boardwalk leads to stunning views of Sandstone Falls, the largest waterfall on the New River. The trail offers interpretive signs about the area’s natural history and provides excellent opportunities for photography, bird watching, and enjoying the serene river environment.


1. What is New River Gorge National Park known for?

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, located in West Virginia, is known for its spectacular river gorge, rugged landscapes, and outdoor recreation opportunities. The centerpiece of the park is the New River, which cuts through the Appalachian Mountains to create one of the oldest and deepest river gorges in North America.

The park is renowned for its world-class whitewater rafting, rock climbing, hiking, and fishing. Visitors come to New River Gorge to experience thrilling adventures on the river’s rapids, explore scenic trails that wind through dense forests and along rocky cliffs, and admire breathtaking views from overlooks and scenic drives.

Additionally, the park offers opportunities for camping, wildlife viewing, and cultural heritage exploration, making it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

  • All Trails, Best Trails in New River Gorge National River, West Virginia,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, New River Gorge Bridge,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Parks Foundation, Wild, Wonder Waters,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Park Service, New River Gorge,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Visit Southern West Virginia, New River Gorge National River,, retrieved April 2024.