National Park

About The New River Gorge National Park & Preserve

In the heart of the Appalachian mountains, a river has cut and carved a canyon worthy of praise. Over thousands of years, the New River has painstakingly created the 1,000 foot canyon known as the New River Gorge. In her wake, this river has left exposed sandstone, incredible whitewater, and wild woods. This adventurous place hasn’t always been the recreational paradise that it now is, but has ebbed and flowed through transitions throughout the centuries. 

Before European settlers moved into the area, the Shawnee lived, hunted, and fished the New River Gorge. This land has supported various industries since settlers began to call the region their home. Dense hardwood forests were logged, and world-famous coal was mined from the New River Gorge, helping to fuel the second Industrial Revolution. As demand for coal slowed and more efficient mining practices were realized, the once bustling coal towns were left to return to dust, and the Gorge was able to begin reclaiming her land. 

As adventurous pioneers began to explore the rapids of the New River Gorge, a new industry was realized. These early ambassadors recognized the potential for whitewater in West Virginia, and set up shop along the banks of the New River and in the surrounding towns, creating whitewater rafting outfitters. Soon, rock climbers began to explore the sandstone cliffs, mapping out routes that are still known throughout the climbing community. Trails to some of these climbing areas were created, allowing hikers to also experience the beauty of the New River Gorge. 

In 1978, the New River Gorge was established as the New River Gorge National River, falling under the protection of the National Park Service. Unique flora and fauna are found in the area, and this protection allowed for these important species to be preserved. Culturally, the New River Gorge Region is also important. Abandoned settlements of former coal towns are scattered throughout the Gorge, some of which can be visited and learned about today. 

In late 2020, the New River Gorge National River received a promotion to the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, further cementing her status as one of the great and wild places in the United States. The New River Gorge Bridge, completed in 1977, spans the gap between the two sides of the steep New River Gorge, and has become a treasured part of the landscape, adding to her beauty even further. 

The New River Gorge National Park spans over 70,000 acres, including 53 miles of the New River. Adventures on the Gorge borders the park and is perched on the rim of the Gorge, offering both picturesque views of the famous New River Gorge Bridge and close proximity to all of the park’s most popular experiences. Discover over 1,500 climbing routes. Take in the fresh air and breathtaking scenery. Raft the rapids of the New River. Hike hundreds of trails, and explore abandoned coal-mining towns along the way. Here, there is a piece of Almost Heaven for everyone.

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