DescriptionThe New River Gorge National River encompasses 53 miles of the New River and its narrow gorge that wind through the Appalachian Mountains from Hinton to the New River Gorge Bridge (US 19) near Fayetteville. Contrary to its name, the New is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America; it was part of the ancient Teays River system, which originated more than 65 million years ago.
The river's human history began about 12,000 years ago when Native Americans lived and hunted in the area. The portion of the river within the park, however, was largely unsettled due to the dangerous and often impassable rapids and steep gorge walls. In 1873 the C&O Railroad was completed through the gorge and provided access to the exposed rich seams of coal in the mountains.
For the next 80 years the area was a booming industrial center, whose heart was the 18-odd communities in the lower canyon from Prince to Fayette Station. But as the mines were worked out, people began to leave the gorge's coal towns. Forest has since reclaimed most of the towns and mine sites.
General InformationThe New is regarded as one of the best rivers in the state for small-mouth bass fishing. In addition, muskellunge, walleye, catfish and carp test the skill of anglers. Some of the river's tributaries are stocked with trout. The most popular portion of the New for fishing is the upper section from Hinton to McCreery.
The New River is said to rival the Colorado for its white-water rafting opportunities. The 30 miles of the lower portion from McCreery to the New River Gorge Bridge draw white-water rafting enthusiasts each year from early April to mid-October. Many outfitters with highly skilled guides provide both scenic and white-water trips through the gorge and are primarily located at the northern end of the river.
The sandstone cliffs along the New River, which range up to 120 feet tall, have become well-known among rock climbing enthusiasts. The peak climbing season runs from April through November.
Three visitor centers offer brochures, maps and historic background on the river and the surrounding area; park rangers provide information and orientation services. The Grandview's Center on SR 25 in the Thurmond railroad depot and SR 9 is noted for its overlooks, trails and spring display of rhododendrons. The Canyon Rim Visitor Center, (304) 574-2115, in Lansing and Sandstone Visitor Center, (304) 466-0417, in Sandstone are open year-round; all others are open seasonally.
Other popular recreational activities within the park include picnicking, camping, hiking, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and horseback riding.
ADDRESSADDRESS inquiries to the Superintendent, New River Gorge National River, National Park Service, P.O. Box 246, 104 Main St., Glen Jean, WV 25846. Phone (304) 465-0508.