New River Gorge National Park and PreserveScenic mountains and breathtaking gorge views await at the nation’s newest national park. The New River Gorge National Park & Preserve is steeped in rich history and outdoor recreation—making it the heavenly escape you’ve been longing for.
Welcome to America’s 63rd national park—the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. Home to more than 70,000 acres of public lands, this park has been a hallowed spot for locals for centuries. The recent designation as the nation’s newest national park invites travelers, like you, to visit, explore and discover your own slice of heaven.
Easily accessible by Route 19 and I-64, the New River Gorge is one of West Virginia’s most photographed areas. The iconic steel arch bridge was once the longest in the world and welcomes travelers to this cherished region. Widely known as the second oldest river in the world, the New River cuts through extensive geological formations that make way for diverse flora and fauna. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons call this park home, and you’ll often spot a few along your travels. Hiking trails here take you to spectacular overlooks and through remnants of old coal mining towns.
Explore New River Gorge Park Attractions
Must See Stops in New River Gorge National Park
Canyon Rim Visitor Center is the primary visitor contact station for area information and for interpretation of the natural, cultural, recreational, and historic resources of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area. With an estimated 300,000 visitors each year, the center provides the park with a nationally recognized facility, revealing the beauty of the National Parks of Southern West Virginia to the nation and the world. The hub of the park also provides the perfect overlook of the New River Gorge Bridge.
The largest waterfall on the New River, Sandstone Falls spans the river where it is 1500 feet wide. Divided by a series of islands, the river drops 10 to 25 feet.
Sandstone Falls marks the transition zone of the New River from a broad river of large bottomlands, to a narrow mountain river roaring through a deep boulder strewn V- shaped gorge. The falls form the dramatic starting line for the New Rivers final rush trough the New River Gorge to its confluence with the Gauley River to form the Kanawha River.
Grandview is a peaceful place to relax and unwind while enjoying outstanding views of the New River.
Grandview is a great place to see the spectacular displays of Catawba rhododendrons that bloom here every spring. The purple Catawba rhododendrons bloom in mid May, while the white great rhododendrons bloom in July.
The Bluestone River and the rugged and ancient gorge it has carved is a richly diverse and scenic area of the southern Appalachians. Bluestone National Scenic River is preserved as a living landscape that provides an unspoiled experience for visitors and a haven for a variety of plants and animals. The park protects a 10.5-mile section of the Bluestone River in southern West Virginia.
This one hundred year-old road of hairpin turns winds down to the bottom of the gorge, across a narrow bridge, and up the other side. Visible along the way are vistas of the river and bridges, a hardwood forest, and remnants of the New River Gorge communities that once teemed with activity.
At river level, Fayette Station Road runs directly through remnants of the townsites of Fayette and South Fayette. The establishment, growth, and ultimate demise of these two towns represent the general life cycle of a town in the gorge. A landowner or mining company opened a coal mine and built company-owned houses and a store, creating a company town.
An Almost Heaven Playlist
While you plan your adventure through America’s newest national park, listen to our curated playlist of West Virginia favorites. Be sure to download so you can listen to it along your travels on the Mountain State’s country roads.
New River Gorge National Park In The News
A popular rock climbing and whitewater rafting destination in southeastern West Virginia has officially become a U.S. national park, thanks to the latest COVID-19 stimulus package….
Some good and green news: America, we have a new national park….
If one major travel trend has emerged over the tumultuous months of the pandemic, it’s been the public’s enormous appetite for getting outdoors….
There are moments, as you drift through the deep canyon walls of the New River Gorge, when it feels like you’ve got the whole world to yourself….
Did you know?
- The New River Gorge is the country’s 63rd national park. West Virginia became a state in 1863, so some now say 63 is the state's lucky number!
- The New River is one of the oldest rivers in the world, some claim is to be the second oldest, aging between 10 and 360 million years old.
- The Kaymoor mine, a former coal mine nestled in the bank of the New River, produced more than 16 million tons of coal during its lifetime.
- TIME designated the New River Gorge as one of the World's Greatest Places.
- The New River Gorge bridge is the 2nd highest steel arch in the United States and the 2nd longest single arch bridge in the world!
- The New River is approximately 320 miles long, traveling through North Carolina, Virginia, and ending in West Virginia.
- The New River flows south to north, unlike most North American rivers.
- The New River National Park & Preserve is home to more than 70,000 acres of public lands.
- The ghost town of Thurmond was once one of the richest towns in West Virginia.
- Bridge Day, West Virginia’s largest single-day festival where BASE jumpers leap off the bridge, is one of the largest extreme sports events in the world.
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