We have always loved New River Gorge for its 1,000-foot-high sandstone cliffs, its 70,000+ acres of forested land and its 53 miles of churning river. But this under-the-radar gem is gaining new attention outside of the Mountain State. On Dec. 27, New River Gorge became America’s 63rd national park — changing its longtime status as a national river at the urging of the congressional delegation from West Virginia, which had never been home to an official national park.
While it certainly draws adrenaline junkies such as rock climbers, kayakers and whitewater rafters, you can enjoy its scenic delights on low-key hikes or even without leaving your car. The new national park has something for everyone.
Things To Do
Take in the views. The park’s overlooks are must-see spots for soaking in natural wonders. Perched among boulders at 1,400 feet, the main overlook at the Grandview Visitor Center reveals a U-shaped view of the river and gorge. At the Canyon Rim Visitors Center, an easy boardwalk stroll leads to two observation decks for gazing at the gorge and the majestic New River Gorge Bridge, the longest steel arch span in the western hemisphere.
Enjoy the whitewater. The New River Gorge is known for whitewater rafting, and many locals, including us, say that’s the most scenic (and wildest) way to see the park. The Upper New River includes long pools and mild rapids. The lower section, brings in more adventurous rapids ranging from Class III-IV. Kids 11 and under raft FREE everyday on the Upper New with a paying adult. Kids as young as 10 can enjoy the Lower New River on our Family Lower New trip and 12 years old can join in the fun on the Lower New. Fishing is popular in the river’s quieter areas, and anglers will find multiple public access points. Spring and fall are the best times to catch everything from bass to walleye.
Mountain Biking and Hiking
The park has 12.8 miles of easy-to-intermediate biking trails. There are many popular hiking trails include the 1.6-mile Long Point Trail, which provides views of the gorge and the bridge and the 2.4-mile Endless Wall Trail, known for its 1,000-foot-high views of the river below. For a more solitary experience, try the two-mile loop Big Branch Trail. You’ll find a cascading stream, waterfalls and the remnants of an old homestead site, and it’s abloom with wildflowers in early spring. Another less crowded hike is the 0.7-mile Headhouse Trail, which goes to the entrance of an old coal mine, now
The New River Gorge National Park and Reserve is known for amazing rock climbing. More than 1,500 climbing routes are established within or immediately surrounding the park, making it the East Coast’s best proving ground. In climbing speak, the big draws are 5.10 sport routes and 5.10 trad climbing routes, with some routes making for quicker ascents and others topping out at more than 100 feet of vertical and forming the bulk of a climber’s day in the park.
876 feet above the raging river, spans the unmistakable New River Gorge Bridge. You may have driven over it, but it’s the hidden bridge under the bridge that you shouldn’t miss. Underneath the roadway, a steel catwalk, harness and a lanyard are all that separate you from one of the most unforgettable views of your life. The bridge rattles and shakes as cars and trucks pass overhead to round out the sensory experience.
Known for our Country Roads and Almost Heaven landscape, Country Roads Cabins is located just 7 miles from the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. This deluxe cabin resort is an aww-inspiring escape in the Blue Ridge Mountains, taking full advantage of the West Virginia countryside and wildlife. At Country Roads Cabins, you can kick back and relax in your private hot tub, hike along numerous trails throughout the New River Gorge, explore the land on horseback, take in the New River Gorge National Park by whitewater rafting on one of the worlds oldest rivers, celebrate a romantic getaway or whatever your heart desires.
As for accommodations, you can choose from 17 luxurious log cabin homes, 2 romantic yurt getaways, 2 aww-inspiring treehouse or you can experience glamping in one of our 2 brand new safari-style tents. The tents are fully outfitted with a king size bed, fully equipped kitchenette, gas grill, private hot tub and fire pit. From late April through early November, you can be surrounded by nature while reveling in every kind of comfort, including cell service and Wi-Fi, if feel the need to “plug in.” Each tent is also carefully appointed with hardwood laminate floors, fine linens, air conditioning and heat, plus a private, en suite master bathroom.