New River Gorge National Park and Preserve - West Virginia
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a unit of the United States National Park Service (NPS) designed to protect and maintain the New River Gorge in southern West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. Established in 1978 as a national river, the NPS-protected area stretches for 53 miles (85 km) from just downstream of Hinton to Hawks Nest State Park near Ansted. The park was officially named America's 63rd national park, the U.S. government's highest form of protection, as part of the COVID 19 relief bill.
We traveled to this national park to simply cross the New River Gorge Bridge and see the river up close. We visited the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and traveled the roads and river access under the bridge. We observed various hiking trails and boat launches to the river. We also observed river rafting and kayaking which was spectacular. However, the New River is nothing to take for granted as many of the rapids are rated as Class IV+ which are considered advanced and only for experienced kayakers. However, as the photos reflect, there are plenty of group rafting opportunities.
There are also catwalk tours for under the bridge as the photos reflect. A separate fee is imposed and participants are led across the bottom of the bridge by a guide and are required to wear a safety harness which is latched to a safety cable above the catwalk.
This is a relatively new National Park, mainly covering land near or adjacent to the river. The national park facilities were professional and clean. If you plan to visit this national park, we recommend setting aside several days to travel the scenic route, hike the West Virginia Mountains, and plan ahead to join a whitewater rapids group.
Wildlife to expect include approximately 65 species of mammals. Common mammals include groundhog, raccoon, opossum, gray and fox squirrel, chipmunk, and white-tailed deer. Beaver, mink, and an occasional river otter may sometimes be seen along the river.
Glen Jean, West Virginia 25846 Phone: (304) 465-0508