New River, the centerpiece of New River Gorge National River in south-central West Virginia, is among the oldest rivers on the continent. The rugged, whitewater river pounds through a 53-mile deep canyon, surrounded by 70,000 acres of ghost towns, vestiges of an industrial past, strenuous hiking trails, waterfalls, and vistas.
Some of those sites, like Kay Moor, Nuttallburg and Thurmond, were preserved when New River Gorge National River was created.
Nature has reclaimed much of what was destroyed during the decades of intense industrial use at New River. Continuous swaths of mature hillside and bottomland forests line both sides of the gorge, broken up only with daunting cliffs, wetlands and the occasional building or ruin.
New River Gorge is renowned for its recreational opportunities, such as bird watching, cycling, fishing, hiking, hunting, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting. The lower gorge of the New River is acclaimed as a premier whitewater rafting location with Class III to Class V rapids, obstructed by large boulders and powered by massive currents, crosscurrents and hydraulics. The upper gorge is less challenging, with Class I to Class III rapids for whitewater canoeing.
One of the highlights of the park, visible from the Canyon Rim Visitors Center, is the New River Gorge Bridge which carries US Route 19 over the New River. At 876-feet, it is the third highest crossing in the country. The Corten steel used in its construction gives the bridge a rust color.
The trail system at New River Gorge National River range from ¼-mile to 7 miles in length, and can widely vary from flat, smooth paths to steep, rocky inclines. Trail recommendations and maps can be found at the Canyon Rim, Grandview, Sandstone and Thurmond visitor centers.Trail information
|Brochure Map (PDF) | Image|
|Climbing Map (Image)|
|Fayette Station Tour Map (PDF) | Image|
|Paddling Map (Image)|
|River Map (PDF) | Image|
|Scenic Drive Map (Image)|
|162 Visitor Center Rd., Lansing, WV 25862|
There are four visitor centers at New River Gorge National River:
|Canyon Rim Visitor Center near Fayetteville|
|Grandview Visitor Center near Grandview|
|Sandstone Visitor Center near Sandstone|
|Thurmond Visitor Center in Thurmond, which is seasonal|
Kay Moor, West Virginia is a former Low Moor Iron company town. At its height, Kay Moor featured a coal mine and processing plant. Kay Moor was named for James Kay, a Low Moor Iron employee whose task was to construct the town at the base of the mountain.More on Kay Moor
Nuttallburg, located along the New River in Fayette County, West Virginia, was a coal mining venture that was spawned out of England-born entrepreneur John Nuttall. It remained in operation until the mid-20th century.More on Nuttallburg
Thurmond, a storied town located along the New River in Fayette County, West Virginia, has a population of five. The community was once an important stop for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad.More on Thurmond