Setting sun behind the girders of the high arched New River Gorge bridge in West Virginia
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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting New River Gorge National Park

This gem in West Virginia is an adventurer’s playground.

The New River Gorge National Park is an outdoor playground mixed with rich history. The New River is one of the oldest rivers in North America and the park itself includes an old mining town.

In addition to history, the national park has more than 70,000 acres to explore. Hikes in the Gorge can take you from sweeping views of the canyon to remnants of a mining village (complete with mining tunnels) deep in the ravine.

If you're looking for something more adrenaline-fueled, the New River Gorge also boasts world-class rock climbing, great mountain biking, and is well-known for its white-water rafting. There's also the New River Gorge Bridge, which offers a 360-degree view of the canyon for those who aren't faint-of-heart at heights.

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Where is New River Gorge National Park?

The New River Gorge National Park is located in southern West Virginia, about two hours from Huntington, WV and Roanoke, VA. The closest major airport is about an hour drive away in West Virginia's capital, Charleston.

Park Map

A map of New River Gorge National Park

National Park Service

Reservations, Hours, and Entry Fees

Great news: The New River Gorge National Park is open 24/7 every day of the year and does not require any reservations or entry fees.

Canyon Rim Visitors Center is open everyday from 9 am to 5 pm except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day. None of the hiking trails begin at the Center, but it does have a boardwalk with panoramic views of the Gorge, so it's a great place to snap a picture.

The Sandstone Visitors Center has varying hours depending on the season, so it's a good idea to check the National Park Service website for the most up-to-date information.

Where to Stay Near New River Gorge National Park

camping vs. glamping

Getty: MNStudio

Within the park, there are free primitive campsites available on a first-come, first-serve basis. These are great for tent campers or RV campers who do not need a water or electricity hookup. If you plan to stay at one of these sites, get there early on your first day to make sure you get a spot. Additional camping can be found at various privately-owned campgrounds and state parks just outside the national park.

In surrounding towns such as Fayetteville and Oak Hill, hotels like Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, etc. can be found for a decent nightly rate. There are also listings on sites like Airbnb and VRBO but note they can be a bit pricey depending on the location and season.

When is the Best Time to Visit?

May to October is the best time of year to visit New River Gorge National Park and Preserve—otherwise, it can be chilly for hiking and camping. If you don't mind bundling up, visit in the fall; it's a great time to see the array of colors on the trees throughout the canyon.

Things to Do in New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

A woman perched on a rocky outcrop looks out over the New River Gorge Bridge in Wild West Virginia. A moody sky and foggy river below add drama.

Brian Evans/Getty Images

The New River Gorge is known for not only its historic sites but also fun recreational opportunities, including mountain biking, rock climbing, and especially whitewater rafting—next on my own list to try! Whether you love adrenaline-fueled activities or a gorgeous scenic drive or hike is more up your alley, New River Gorge has a lot of options.

New River Gorge Scenic Drive

This trip takes about three hours and 83 miles long so pack your snacks! You will circle the main part of the park and cross over the river twice, including the famous New River Gorge Bridge. Be sure to stop at the Canyon Rim Visitors Center for park information and a sweeping view of the Gorge.

Hiking Trails

Long Point Trail
This 3.2 mile round trip trail is out-and-back style with the highlight being a peninsula rock point that has a beautiful view of the canyon and New River Gorge Bridge. This is one of the park's most popular trails, so be prepared for crowds of hikers during summer peak season.

Kaymoor Miners Trail
Don't let the short length of 2 miles fool you, with 821 stairs down (and back up), endurance is the name of the game. At the bottom you can view what remains of a coal processing plant and mining town near the river. Just remember: While exploring the remnants of coal mining country, stay out of the mines and leave all historical artifacts alone for all to enjoy in the future!

Canyon Rim Boardwalk
This is more like a great place to stop versus a hike, but it's worth mentioning. This boardwalk is fully handicap accessible and offers an overlooking view of the Gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge — the world's second longest arch bridge in the world, by the way!

Other Hikes to Explore

  • Town Loop Trail: Moderate Trail, 0.5 Miles, view remnants of an old mining town
  • Conveyor Trail: Strenuous, 0.8 Miles, views of the mining conveyor and canyon
  • Grandview Overlook: A short 0.1 mile paved trail, views of the horseshoe bend in the New River

Outdoor Adventure Sports

Rafters float towards the rapids under the high arched New River Gorge bridge in West Virginia

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Mountain Biking
Many of the hiking trails are also available for mountain biking! There are trails for all different skill levels and you can find a list of biking trails here. Need to rent a bike or get a tune up of your own wheels? Head over to the Arrowhead Bike Farm in Fayetteville to fulfill all your bike needs.

Rock Climbing
The sandstone cliffs of the New River Gorge make for great rock climbing —with more than 1,400 climbs of all different levels, it's a climber's dream. My favorite part about climbing in the New River Gorge is the view over the entire canyon when you get to the top! Never climbed before? Contact the New River Mountain Guides for a fully guided adventure.

Whitewater Rafting
With 53 miles of river in the park, there's plenty of water to explore amongst the sandstone cliffs. The New River Gorge boasts up to class V rapids for the most adventurous among us. While I personally haven't been on rafting trips along this scenic river, a friend of mine went on a trip with ACE Adventure Resort and had a great time.

Other Activities

Visit Cathedral Falls
While Sandstone Falls is easily accessible, it's Cathedral Falls that I think is truly worth the visit. Cathedral Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the state with water cascading down 60+ feet of sandstone cliffs. If you're tuckered out from all your adventures, this is a great waterfall to visit as it is easily accessible to view off of Highway 60. (Parking is also available.)

Fayetteville, West Virginia
Fayetteville, West Virginia is a small town just outside the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. It has cute shops and delicious restaurants. A personal favorite of mine is Cathedral Cafe, a coffee and sandwich shop inside a beautiful old cathedral in town. Forgot your hiking boots? Drop by Water Stone Outdoors in the city center for all your gear needs.
Other nice towns to visit nearby include Thurmond and Hinton.

Special Events
Thanks to two parachutists who jumped from a plane onto the New River Gorge Bridge 1980, now every year on the third Saturday of October you can celebrate New River Gorge's designated Bridge Day. You can sign up to base jump, rappel, or high line off the 876-foot-tall bridge.
If you're not that much of a daredevil, there's also a tour of the bridge catwalk, plenty of spots to watch others have at it, a 5K, and the "Taste of Bridge Day" food event. Plus, it's a great opportunity to take in that beautiful fall foliage.

Are Pets Allowed in New River Gorge National Park?

First person perspective of dog walker with Vizsla dog. North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada


The New River Gorge National Park allows dogs on all park trails on a leash no longer than six feet. Dogs are not allowed inside park buildings but stop at the visitors center to have your pooch become a certified B.A.R.K. Ranger! You and your pup will get a quick safety briefing and information about park care and then receive a certificate and tag for your dog's collar.

Need More Information?

Additional information about hiking trails, activities, ranger led programs, trail closures, and more can be found at the New River Gorge page of the National Park Service website here.