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New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge

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.

Before the creation of the national park in 1978, New River Gorge was pockmarked by numerous coal mines, company towns, tipples, and coke ovens, all connected by a labyrinth of railways and conveyors. It helped fuel the industrial revolution of the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries.

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. Fly fishing is one of the most popular activities on the New River. You must have a West Virginia fishing license if you plan to fish in the park. Bring your fly fishing combo kit to enjoy a quality fishing experience. You can catch bass, walleye, crappie, muskellunge, carp, bluegill, or flathead and channel catfish. Fall and spring are the best times to fish the New River.

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. Read this whitewater rafting guide if it’s your first time doing it to avoid any accidents. 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

Overview Trail Map (Image)
Arrowhead Trail Map (Image)
Brooks & Sandstone Trail Map (Image)
Glade Creek Trail Map (Image)
Grandview Trail Map (Image)
Lansing and Fayetteville Trail Map (Image)
Nuttallburg Trail Map (Image)
Thurmond, Stone Cliff & Cunard Trail 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

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.

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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

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