As of December 27, 2020, the Appalachian Mountains’ largest gorge is formally a nationwide park. The New River Gorge Nationwide Park and Protect in West Virginia is the 63rd nationwide park and has a few of the nation’s greatest whitewater rafting and mountaineering. The flexibility to do each right here, mixed with the realm’s excellent pure magnificence, speaks to why New River Gorge simply received promoted to the majors.
This space simply exterior of Fayetteville, West Virginia, is famend amongst East Coast outdoorsy varieties however comparatively underneath the radar for the remainder of the nation. That’s absolutely about to alter. On the similar time, even with extra visitors passing by means of, the New River Gorge is unlikely to lose its attraction to diehards — given its 1,000-foot sandstone partitions, difficult river rafting, and backcountry trails and pitches. Right here’s methods to get essentially the most out of this new nationwide park on a day journey or lengthy weekend.
The New River Gorge itself was carved by the New River, a 50-mile stretch of water that was already, previous to the brand new nationwide park standing, a chosen “nationwide river” with Nationwide Park Service safety. One of the simplest ways to tour the park is on a raft floating down this spectacular river.
As you wind by means of the gorge, you’ll move towering sandstone partitions rimmed by open blue sky, maybe a white cloud providing an accent however in any other case a pristine mountain view seen from under. Pine, willow, and aspen timber line the gorge valley, giving it a Colorado-esque aesthetic.
Be ready for Class III to V rapids, together with some bumps and spins. The Decrease Gorge is lined with difficult rapids that embrace the chance of topping your boat and its provides, whereas the part from Hinton to Thurmond provides a problem for intermediate paddlers and a mellower expertise for the hardcore river rat. Simply make sure you pull out at Thurmond; the river under is tight, windy, and technical, appropriate for specialists solely. In fact, you possibly can rent a river clothes shop like Ace Raft or Adventures on the Gorge to information your crew by means of a difficult or intermediate run, with journeys lasting from a few hours to a number of days.
The opposite magnet for mountain voyagers in New River Gorge Nationwide Park and Reserve is mountaineering. Greater than 1,500 climbing routes are established inside or instantly surrounding the park, making it the East Coast’s greatest proving floor. In climbing communicate, the massive attracts are 5.10 sport routes and 5.10 trad climbing routes, with some routes making for faster ascents and others topping out at greater than 100 toes of vertical and forming the majority of a climber’s day within the park.
With so many established routes and a cult-like following that climbs them commonly, it isn’t robust to search out the place to go. Simply bear in mind that newbie routes are few and much between at New River Gorge. Very similar to Yosemite in California, skilled climbers within the space base their pastime — and sometimes their lives — round climbing within the gorge, and have established routes to accommodate that zeal. The Junkyard and Bridge Buttress routes are among the many hottest. Chances are you’ll really feel extra snug hiring a information service like New River Mountain Guides or Blue Ridge Mountain Guides to guide you up and provide tips about the routes.
Mountain biking and mountaineering
The Boy Scouts of America established the 12.8-mile Arrowhead path system for mountain bikers inside New River Gorge, and this needs to be your first cease for biking contained in the park. Situated in Craig’s Department part, the paths are flowy and fast, typical of East Coast driving, and are appropriate for riders of all ranges. For a tougher experience, the 8.6-mile Kaymoor Path runs previous outdated coal mines and up a number of fast steeps (which after all imply you get the enjoyable descents) and joins with the Craig Department Path should you want to diversify your experience. Different fashionable biking trails embrace the Park Loop Path and Fayetteville Path.
The autumn foliage is wonderful contained in the park, because the aspens flip vivid colours come autumn. That’s a good time for mountaineering, however in actual fact strolling this panorama is beautiful a lot of the 12 months. The New River Gorge Bridge is the park’s most iconic attraction, and the short-but-breathtaking Bridge Path is one of the best ways to see it. It’s a 0.86-mile jaunt to an overlook with an unequalled view of the three,030-foot-long, 876-foot-high metal mega-bridge stretching throughout the river from one aspect to the opposite.
For an extended day hike, the Grandview Space Trails lead you as much as extra overlooks whereas the Glade Creek Space Trails move waterfalls and trace on the extra meditative aspect of out of doors recreation. For solitude, head south to the paths of the Sandstone Brooks Space. These embrace the Sandstone Falls Boardwalk, which takes you out above the falls themselves to gaze down at what can be an unlucky finish to a rafting tour. See the NPS information to mountaineering within the park for trailhead areas and data.
Searching and fishing
Few parks provide such a variety of river fish. Right here you’ll discover walleye aplenty, together with bluegill, carp, channel catfish, crappie, and a number of species of bass. And there’s loads of trout within the streams of the park. You’ll want a West Virginia Fishing License to fish within the park, and upon getting that secured, it’s time to “seize the carp,” as followers of the 2001 cult traditional Out Chilly would say — although catch and launch is most popular.
Begin at Glade Creek to heat up, or head right down to the Grandview Sandbar to angle for the above. For a singular expertise, think about a guided kayak fishing expedition with Mountain State Kayak Anglers, the place you’ll have the possibility to maneuver concerning the water taking within the surrounding mountain surroundings whilst you fish. Greater than 65,000 acres of the park and reserve are open at numerous instances for looking. Should you plan to hunt, observe all correct licensing and precautions and research the looking maps supplied by the Nationwide Park Service.
The place to remain close to the park
In fact, conducting all of this in at some point is not possible. So make an extended weekend out of it and crash in a cabin at Ace Journey Resort. Should you plan to spend a number of days exploring New River Gorge Nationwide Park and Reserve but in addition choose facilities like eating places and markets, the close by cities provide all sorts of lodging. As an added perk, it’s typically fairly low cost until you’re visiting on holidays. Rooms in Fayetteville, Lookout, or Oakville could be discovered for underneath $100 per evening. Anticipate to pay $90 for a midweek keep, and go up from there. You’re within the excessive nation, so we suggest becoming the mould and reserving right into a mountain motel such because the Glen Ferris Inn or the Hillcrest Motel.
Backcountry tenting is offered inside the park itself. A number of tenting areas are positioned down within the gorge close to the river, the place you’ll sleep to the sounds of the water speeding by and get up to the solar cresting over sandstone cliffs. Should you plan to recreate within the south finish of the park, think about the Grandview Sandbar tenting space. Different easy-to-access, although nonetheless primitive, campsites are positioned at Stone Cliff Seaside and Military Camp. You can too get additional into the woods at different backcountry tenting areas maintained by the park service. Should you do plan to backpack, the park rangers suggest visiting a guests heart to test situations and depart a observe of the place you’ll be going — and don’t camp inside 100 toes of a longtime path.