In 1978, this New River Gorge was recognized as a National River. In early 2021, it became recognized as a National Park and is now the 63rd and newest National Park in the US. The 70,000 acres that make up New River Gorge is well known for white water rafting, climbing, mountain biking, and hiking. Since it has been designated as a National Park, I’ve visited twice with Teddy. We’ve only scratched the surface of all there is to do but I’ll share our favorites below.
The most popular part of the park is located between Lansing and Fayetteville in West Virginia where the new River Gorge Bridge is located. You can drive directly to the Canyon Rim Visitor Center in this area to check out maps and plan your adventures, or there is also a visitor center in the Sandstone area you can also check out.
If you are not driving but rather flying in, the best place to fly into would be Charlestown, WV which is about 70 miles northwest of the park.
Things To Do:
Canyon Rim Boardwalk: This boardwalk is short and right beside the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and the New River Gorge Bridge. You walk down a pretty steep series of boardwalk stairs to get to an overlook of the river and the gorge. This is one of the easiest ways to get great views without a difficult hike.
Fayette Station Road: This was one of my favorite things to do during our visits as you got to explore so much of the gorge without a huge hike. It is the old route that cars had to take to get across the river prior to the New River Gorge Bridge being built and it takes a while to travel. You go down under the bridge, across a smaller bridge, and along the way there are a few trails and waterfalls as well as overlooks. In total, it’s about a 7.5 mile loop but will likely take at least an hour to travel, especially if you stop along the way.
Endless Wall Trail: This trail is about 2.6 miles point to point through trees and rhododendron. It gets you to the cliff edge with a few incredible views of the gorge. If you don’t want to retrace your steps back to the car, you can walk along the road back but be cautious as there are some blind spots along the way.
Long Point Trail: This is a trail I would love to hike on my next trip back as it has some of the best views of the bridge and gorge on a 3.2 mile round trip trail.
Kaymoor Trail: This is a very short trail you can access from the Fayette Station Road scenic drive. You can only hike a small part of this due to unstable slope issues but the part you can see is very pretty. We walked along the open part of the trail which crosses a beautiful metal bridge and then leads you to a tall but quite narrow waterfall.
Where to Stay:
On both of my park trips, this was only one stop among a few on a road trip so I didn’t stay right by the park either time.
On the first trip, Teddy and I stayed in Warm Springs, VA at The Gristmill which we absolutely loved. It was a great spot for us between Shenandoah National Park and New River Gorge. We’ve also stayed Huntington, WV on a different trip after visiting Red River Gorge, KY.
If we were to stay by the park in the future we would likely find an Airbnb or cabin within about a 30 minute drive if possible. If not, we’d end up staying at a chain even though we try to avoid that as much as possible. But if its most convenient and affordable, that would end up being the best option. There’s quite a few in the area so plenty to pick from.
Overall, this is a great weekend trip from where I live in central Pennsylvania. You could spend an entire weekend here or pair it with other sites like Ohio Pyle (3 hours away), Shenandoah National Park (2.5 hours), Red River Gorge (4 hours) or exploring Virginia off Interstate 81 (2 hours away).