Adventure Guide to America’s Newest National Park: New River Gorge


As a result of December COVID-19 stimulus bundle, right now the National Park Service gives gold normal monetary help to a portion of West Virginia’s New River Gorge, providing world-class rock climbing, rafting, hiking, and mountain biking. The New River Gorge is the America’s 63rd National Park.

In late 2020, Congress accredited changing 7,021 acres in the course of the 73,000-acre New River Gorge Protect right into a Nationwide Park, with the stimulus bundle bettering services to help an estimated 20 % improve in tourism. The funding additionally helps the acquisition of 100 acres from native landowners for path entry and improved parking. The remaining 65,000 acres within the Protect are designated for backcountry searching.

Positioned within the southeastern nook of West Virginia within the Appalachian Mountains, the park is inside a five-hour drive to main cities: Charlotte, NC; Louisville, KY; Columbus, Ohio; and Washington, D.C.

“In 2020, we had an explosion of visitation right here,” says Kenny Parker, proprietor and operator of the specialty climbing store and information service Waterstone Outdoors in Fayetteville, West Virginia. “Getting Nationwide Park standing will add extra gas to the fireplace.”

Immediately’s annual visitation to the “New” contains 1 million folks, many coming for out of doors adventures and scenic drives. The Gorge incorporates greater than 50 miles of whitewater as much as Class V. It additionally contains 1,400 climbing routes (each sport and historically protected) on bullet-hard sandstone. The New York Times reviews routes right here “rank among the many greatest within the East Coast for mountaineering.” New River Gorge additionally incorporates 13 miles of newly constructed mountain bike trails.

Matt Childers

Climbing at New River Gorge

In 1978, the Division of the Inside designated the New River Gorge a nationwide river. Shortly, whitewater rafting put the New on the map. Climbing quickly adopted within the Nineteen Eighties. Climbing is what introduced Parker to the world the place he’s authored a whole lot of first ascents. As a result of huge dimension of the park and unending cliffsides, he compares it to Yosemite Valley in grandeur. “Within the early days, nobody knew climbing was happening right here,” he says. “Immediately, climbing is the most important person group.”

Parker credit the recognition of the climbing at the New with a spillover of the numerous climbing gyms popping up in surrounding states. Although, with few newbie routes within the Gorge, he says the New is greatest suited to reasonable to professional climbers. “The rock is constantly good and it’s as laborious as granite. And it’s as various because it will get: steep faces, slabs, tremendous overhanging, roofs, cracks of each width.”

“I feel it’s the most effective cragging (single-pitch routes) within the nation that I’ve been to,” says native climber Matt Childers. “I like Fayetteville and it’s close to and pricey to my coronary heart. I feel these modifications are a fantastic factor that will probably be good for the financial system.”

April by June, and October by December is greatest for mountaineering. Winter months and early spring convey heavy rain, and summers are too scorching, however then it’s excellent for whitewater rafting and mountain biking.

Rafting, BASE leaping, and mountain biking

Rafting in New River Gorge National Park
Courtesy of Jay Younger/Adventures on the Gorge

Seven rafting outfitters function within the New, together with the most important, Adventures on the Gorge, which additionally provides a restaurant, cabins, zip strains, guided whitewater rafting, climbing/rappelling, and fishing.

Boating within the New contains 53 miles of free-flowing water. The higher half (southern geographically) provides primarily calm water and open swimming pools with rapids as much as Class III. The decrease (northern), referred to as Decrease Gorge, has Class III-V whitewater with “colossal rapids,” says NPS. Rafting season extends from April to October.

Rafting in New River Gorge National Park
Courtesy of Jay Younger/Adventures on the Gorge

West Virginia’s largest pageant is the annual BASE-jumping occasion Bridge Day, which takes place on the third Saturday in October. In 2019 (pre-COVID), it attracted 100,000 guests. That 12 months, 300 jumpers leaped 876 ft from the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville. That’s along with the 900 adventurers who rappelled to the bottom. Others selected zip-lining from the metal span, driving the road 700 ft down from the bridge catwalk to Fayette Station Street.

Mountain biking within the New contains the 12.8-mile Arrowhead Trails, a stacked looped system constructed by 1,000 Boy Scouts in 2011. Their effort included 78,544 volunteer hours. In response to, the trouble was “one of many largest youth service initiatives in Nationwide Park Service historical past.”


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