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Why You Should Rock Climb in the New River Gorge National Park

Rock climber climbing in the New River Gorge National Park

The New River Gorge National Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with its rugged landscapes, stunning views and various New River Gorge climbing areas. Adventurous athletes from around the world travel to West Virginia to visit the East Coast’s largest, most diverse climbing destination. Bouldering, Sport Climbing, Traditional (Trad) Climbing, and Deep-Water Soloing are all popular forms of rock climbing in the New River Gorge region. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a guided climbing trip (half day or full day) or an experienced climber with your own gear, there are routes for all skill levels in the national park. 

What is special about New River Gorge Climbing?

Man Rock Climbing New River Gorge National Park

The New River Gorge has long been considered one of the premier climbing destinations in the United States. As the sport of rock climbing has increased in popularity, so has climbing in the New River Gorge. Our highly sought-after Nuttall Sandstone attracts devoted climbers traveling from near and far to climb the bullet-hard, technical routes unique to this region. Not only are the routes and the rock unique, but so are the magnificent views that reward each climber as they ascend the towering cliffs. When visiting areas such as Endless Wall, climbers are met with stunning views of the gorge and the New River from the sandstone clifftops.

New River Gorge Bouldering

Bouldering is a popular form of rock climbing that requires minimal equipment to get started. With just climbing shoes, some chalk, and a large foam pad, aptly named a crash pad, climbers set out to explore the New River Gorge bouldering areas scattered across the region. In addition to the boulders found within the gorge itself, climbers also frequent areas near the Meadow River Gorge as well as Summersville State Park. Needleseye Park is another popular New River Gorge bouldering area located south of the gorge in Oak Hill, West Virginia. 

The New River Gorge region is filled with boulders of all sizes and grades. Each bouldering problem is assigned a grade based on its difficulty, and the boulders in the New River Gorge region range from V0 to V14. Those looking for easier boulders can find introductory climbs at Cotton Bottom, Burnwood Boulders, or below the Hawks Nest Dam. Just north of Fayetteville, you will find the Meadow River, home to the popular bouldering area of Meadow Top. While hiking the cliff line above the Meadow River, climbers will find countless boulders of varying grades. This area is popular for beginners because many of the boulders feature flat landings and comfortable heights.

New River Gorge Sport Climbing

The New River Gorge region is home to over 3,000 established trad and sport climbing routes. These routes can be found in three primary areas, easily identified based on the body of water they are closest to: the New River, the Meadow River, and Summersville Lake (formed by the infamous Gauley River). The New River Gorge proper is home to many popular sport climbing areas (called ‘crags’) including Endless Wall, Bubba City and Kaymoor. Experienced climbers looking for physical and technical routes can find a wide range of expert climbs at The Cirque, a popular crag at Endless Wall. Lower Meadow and Upper Meadow are the two primary sport climbing areas found along the Meadow River Gorge. Summersville Lake State Park offers incredible rock climbing with stunning views to accompany each climb. Popular crags in Summersville include The Coliseum, Orange Oswald, and Long Wall. Around September of every year, as the US Army Corps of Engineers drain Summersville Lake, even more climbs become accessible for sport climbers. Popular crags that are only accessible on foot during the winter months include Whippoorwill and Long Point.

New River Gorge Guided Climbing

Girl On Rappel In New River Gorge National Park

The best introduction to climbing in the nation’s newest national park is to schedule a Guided Rock-Climbing trip with Adventures on the Gorge. Our knowledgeable guides will provide the equipment and expertise required to enjoy a full day, or half day of rock climbing whether you’re a beginner, novice, or an experienced climber. In addition, they will provide the enthusiasm and encouragement needed for guests to feel comfortable and confident on the wall. 

Guests have several options when planning a guided climbing trip with Adventures on the Gorge. We offer half-day or full day climbing trips for groups, families, couples, or individuals looking to try this fast-growing sport. Children as young as 8 years old can enjoy rock climbing and rappelling with some of the finest views in Appalachia. Experienced climbers looking to strengthen their skills can also request a climbing clinic to learn skills such as cleaning anchors or lead climbing. To plan your New River Gorge Climbing adventure in America’s Newest National Park, visit our website at or speak with a Reservations Specialist at (855-379-8738).

If you want to experience everything we have to offer, please call one of our adventure specialists.

Rock climber climbing in the New River Gorge National Park
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