New River Gorge National Park – Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting


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new river gorge national park

Are you thinking about visiting The New River Gorge National Park? You’re not alone.

The New River Gorge is officially the newest National Park in the United States. And we’re all excited to visit.

In this article, we’ll go over all the things you need to know to prepare for your visit. From where to when we’ll cover all of it here.

Let’s dive in!

Facts about New River Gorge National Park

  • New River Gorge is the newest National Park in the United States. It became a national park in December of 2020.
  • Before becoming a national park, the New River Gorge was a national river. It was established as a national river in 1978.
  • The New Gorge River flows from South to North. There are only 48 rivers out of more than 250,00 rivers in the United States that flow in that direction.
  • The New River Gorge National Park stretches 53 miles and spans both Virginia and West Virginia.
  • The New River Gorge National Park is accessible by train from Chicago and New York.
  • The New River Gorge Bridge is the second largest single-steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It is 876 feet tall and over 3,000 feet long.

History of New River Gorge National Park

The New River had always been an important travel route through the Appalachian Mountains. In the early 1900s, railroads were built to travel across and around the New River Gorge.

This increased travel made the area around the National River a large iron and steel mining industry. In 1977 the iconic New River Gorge Bridge was built to solve traveling through the rough mountain range.

Before becoming a national park, the New River Gorge was established as a national river in 1978. This designation connected multiple recognized state parks that were established during the 1930s and 1950s.

With the new designation as a National River, it created an area of nearly 53 miles of protected land. Before becoming a national park, the New River Gorge was established as a national river in 1978.

The area around the National River became a scenic sanctuary for many years. The national river designation provided protections that kept the natrual environment preserved. In December of 2020, the area surrounding the National River was designated as a National Park.

How many people visit New River Gorge National park each year?

According to the National Park Service, the New River Gorge National Park receives approximately 1.5 million visitors each year.

After being recognized as a national park in 2020, the park is expected to experience a 20% increase in visitors in the next several years.

What is New River Gorge National park known for?

The New River Gorge National is known for being home to the New River Gorge Bridge. At nearly 900 feet tall and 3,000 feet long, the bridge is the second largest single-steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

Things to do at New River Gorge National park

Whether you are a nature lover or a thrill-seeker, the New River Gorge National Park has something in store for you.

Here are some of the things you can do when you visit the New River Gorge National Park:

Hikes/Views:

  • Endless Wall Trail
  • Sandstone Falls
  • Long Point Trail
  • New River Gorge Bridge

Attractions:

  • Babcock State Park
  • Hawks Nest STate Park
  • Bluestone State Park

Activities:

  • Whitewater rafting
  • Treetop Canopy Tour
  • Paddle Boarding
  • Mountain Climbing
  • Fishing

What are the best hikes?

Spanning over 72,000 acres, the New River Gorge National Park is full of exciting trails for all types of hikers. So whether you are looking to explore with your family or a challenging hike to do with your friends, you can find routes to fit your needs

Endless Wall

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Length: 2.4 Miles
Type: Point to Point
Notable Sightings: Sandstone Walls, New River Gorge

Long Point Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 2.9 miles
Type: Out and Back
Notable Sightings:

Kaymoor Miner’s Trail

Diffculty: Hard
Length: 1.6 miles
Type: Out and Back
Notable Sightings: Waterfall

Sandstone Falls Boardwalk

Difficulty: Easy
Length: .25 miles
Type: Boardwalk
Notable Sightings: Sandstone Waterfall, Appalachian Riverside Community

Glade Creek Trail

Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Length: 12 miles
Type: Out and Back
Notable Sightings: Waterfall, Glade Creek, Pinch Creek, New River Gorge

new river gorge national park

Best Sights and Places To Take Photos

If you love taking photos of nature, this is the perfect place for you.

With a picturesque river winding through stunning mountain ranges, it’s hard to run out of compositional ideas in this park. Add to that is the park’s iconic Bridge, and this park easily becomes a photographer’s playground.

Here are some of the best places to check out if you are looking to take photos in the park:

Canyon Rim

The Canyon rim is a great area to photograph the New River Gorge Bridge. It’s an excellent and easily accessible viewpoint.

Grandview

Grandview provides you with a unique point of view of over 1400 feet above the river. The view allows you to look directly into the heart of the New River Gorge National Park.

Endless Wall Outlook

The endless wall provides you with a view of the sandstone walls, mountain ranges, with the river flowing below at the center.

Beauty Mountain

Beauty Mountain is a stunning high point with a direct view of the park’s river and lush mountains. You can also see sandstone rocks from here, making it a compositional opportunity for photography.

Where to eat around there?

The New River Gorge National Park doesn’t only offer incredible views. You can also find delicious foods nearby.

Whether you’re looking to have something quick or relax and dine-in, you can find everything nearby.

Here are some of my recommendations for some of the best places to eat around New River Gorge National Park:

  1. The Burrito Bar At Breeze Hill – This place offers delicious Mexican food with a view.
  2. Arrowhead Bike Farm – Enjoy delicious homestyle food before you rent bikes to ride around the National Park.
  3. Wood Iron Eatery – This has a great breakfast and brunch.
  4. Firecreek BBQ & Steaks – This is perfect for a delicious, high-quality steak and authentic BBQ
  5. Pies & Pints Pizzeria – If you are looking for classic pizza and a cold beer, this place located just 1.5 miles away from the main Bridge

Where to stay when visiting?

When visiting the New River Gorge National Park, I recommend you stay close to the area. This way, you can reduce the amount of time traveling back and forth from the park.

Some of the best places to stay nearby the New River Gorge National Park are:

  • Courtyard by Marriott – High-quality hotel with exceptional service
  • Smart Extended Stay – Great budget option
  • Hampton Inn – Best for quality at a reasonable price
  • Ace Adventure Resort – This place is excellent for people looking to do outdoor activities while in the park

new river gorge national park

What is the best time of year to visit?

The best time to visit is during spring and fall.

The summer experiences plenty of rain. To enjoy the warm temperatures, I recommend visiting in spring. The Spring season allows you to do many activities around the park, such as hiking and rafting.

During the fall season, the park transforms into a magical place. Red, yellow, and orange foliage will cover the mountains, making the place extra special.

What is the weather like during New River Gorge National Park?

The New River Gorge National Park experiences drastically different weather conditions during the same month. For example, July is the hottest month of the year and also the month with the most rain.

Spring

Months: March-May
• Average Temperature:
• Low: 39 °F
• High: 61 °F
• Precipitation: 3.75 inches

Summer:

Months: June – August
• Average Temperatures:
• Low: 57 °F
• High: 77 °F
• Precipitation: 4.1 inches
• July sees the highest rainfall, with over 5 inches of rain every year

Fall

Months: September – November
• Average Temperatures:
• Low: 40 °F
• High: 62 °F
• Precipitation: 2.78 inches

Winter

Months: December – February
• Average Temperatures:
• Low: 20 °F
• High: 41 °F
• Precipitation: 2.74 Inches

How many days do you need in New River Gorge National Park?

To take advantage of all the attractions and sights around the park, you’d want to stay between 2-5 days. Doing so will give you enough time to explore the park and do plenty of activities comfortably.

Is New River Gorge National Park Safe?

Yes. But, like all other outdoor activities, you must come prepared when you visit.

Study the safety protocol for each activity you’re planning to do, including:

  • Water safety
  • Hiking Safety
  • Biking Safety
  • Rock Climbing safety
  • Driving on park roads safety
  • Extreme heat or cold safety
  • Camping and wildlife
  • Insect and spider safety
  • Plant and flower safety

Tips for a Successful Visit

The key to a successful trip is planning and preparation. Below are some of the essential things you should do before going to New River Gorge National Park:

  • Book your trip, hotels, rentals ahead of time.
  • Choose a date that that lines up with the activities you want to do
  • Create a daily outline of the things you want to do and places you want to visit
  • Bring the proper gear for the weather and activities you plan on doing
  • Bring a map or get one in the park once you arrive
  • Stay as close to the park as possible to limit the amount of time you spend traveling

Entrance Fees

No. There are no fees to enter the New River Gorge National Park.

However, there are fees for participating in some recreational activities inside the park, including whitewater rafting and treetop canopy tours.

You’ll also need to pay fees for anything you are looking to rent for the day, such as bikes or paddleboards.

Is it dog friendly?

Yes. New River Gorge National Park is dog-friendly.

All the hikes at the New River Gorge National Park allow dogs. Just make sure to keep your dog on a leash while at the park.

Other rules outlined by the park that you need to follow when you’re with your pet include:
• Leashes can’t be longer than 6 feet
• You must pick up dog feces and dispose of them properly
• Bring extra water for dogs to drink. Streams can have dangerous bacteria and parasites on dogs
• Pets are not allowed at public ranger programs
• Avoid conflicts with other animals

Parking at New River Gorge National Park?

Most of the park’s attractions have free designated parking lots. For most hikes and visiting centers, finding parking won’t be an issue even during summer when there is a significant crowd.

Final Thoughts

The New River Gorge National Park is a place to visit for anyone who enjoys nature and outdoor activities.

You can do just about any outdoor activity, from scenic drives to challenging water sports.

The park has plenty of hiking trails for all difficulty levels. So whether you’re visiting with your family or friends, you can find the perfect trail.

The park is also great if you love camping. It has campgrounds and RV parking lots for you to enjoy.

The park is also worth visiting for photographers, especially in the fall. With its beautiful mountain ranges, one-of-a-kind bridge, and stunning river, you won’t run out of photographic ideas.

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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