Julie United States 9 Comments

For millions of years, the New River has been carving out a 73,000 acre gorge in West Virginia. The sandstone cliffs and whitewater rapids create world-class rock climbing and whitewater rafting destinations. Hiking and mountain biking trails wind through the forests, leading to overlooks and historic settlements. In this guide, we cover the best things to do in New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, with tips on how to have the best experience.

While in New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trails, pack out what you bring to the hiking trails, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

Interesting Facts about New River Gorge National Park

Despite its name, the New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent, if not the world. There is some debate among geologists about the age of this river, with estimates ranging between 3 to 360 million years.

On the list of oldest rivers in the world are the Susquehanna (in the mid-Atlantic region of the USA), the Finke (in Australia), and the Meuse (in Europe). The Nile River (in Africa) and the Colorado River (the river which carved out the Grand Canyon) are also on the list but are considerably younger than the New River.

The New River is also one of the few rivers in the USA that flows from south to north.

Crossing the gorge is the New River Gorge Bridge. Constructed on October 22, 1977, this bridge is one of the most photographed sights in West Virginia. Prior to construction of the bridge, the only way to cross the gorge was on a winding, narrow road that took 45 minutes to drive. Now, motorists can cross the gorge in less than a minute.

There is a long history of coal mining along the New River. At New River Gorge National Park, on the list of things to do are visits to these old settlements and towns, once a vital part of West Virginia’s economy.

New River Gorge was first a national river. On December 27, 2020, it was officially designated as a national park.

A Quick Geography Lesson

The sights and things to do in New River Gorge National Park lie scattered along the New River. With several visitor centers, a historic district, and several pockets of overlooks and hiking trails, this is not the type of park that you can blitz through in one day. And that’s not to mention all of the great things that you can do along the New River, just outside of the national park boundaries.

Below is map from the National Park Service. I highlighted the main areas in and around New River Gorge National Park, which I will discuss next.

New River Gorge Park Map

Canyon Rim

This is one of the main areas of the park. Located at the north end of New River Gorge National Park, this is where you will find New River Gorge Bridge, numerous hiking and biking trails, one very scenic drive (Fayette Station Road), and several historic coal mining sights. If you only have one day in New River Gorge National Park, this is a great place to spend your time.

Thurmond Historic District

South of Canyon Rim is Thurmond Historic District. With one overlook and a “ghost town” that is a bit out of the way, this is the area that I think is skippable, unless you have lots of time and/or an interest in the history of the area.


This is our favorite area of the park. With a nice view of the New River and two of the best hiking trails in the park, this is a great place to spend half of a day in New River Gorge National Park.


If you want to see the most impressive waterfall in the park, put Sandstone Falls on your list of things to do in New River Gorge National Park. Located at the southern end of the park, not only can you visit this waterfall but you can also go on another scenic drive and visit the historic town of Hinton.

Outside of the Park

Outside of the national park boundary are several other notable sights to visit. These include Hawks Nest State Park and Babcock State Park.

How to Use This Map: Click the tab in the top left hand corner of the map to view the layers. You can click the check marks to hide or show layers. If you click the icons on the map, you can get more information about each point of interest.
If you click the star next to the title of the map, this map will be added to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.

Best Things to Do in New River Gorge National Park

This long list of things to do in New River Gorge National Park is arranged according to geographical area. The list starts in the north, at Canyon Rim, and ends in the south, at Sandstone. Then, we cover things to do just outside of New River Gorge National Park.

Things to Do in Canyon Rim

Canyon Rim Visitor Center and Overlooks

The Visitor Center is a great place to pick up a park map, get your bearings, and speak to a park ranger if you have any questions about the park. You can also pick up the CD’s for the Fayette Station Road drive and the African American Heritage Auto Tour (more information about these later in this guide).

There are two overlooks here. To get to the overlooks, follow the signs to “Scenic View” from the parking lot.

This is the view from the upper overlook, which is just a short, easy walk from the parking lot.

Bridge Overlook


To get to the lower overlook, you will walk down 178 steps (and later, back up), but it’s worth it if you want a better view of the New River Gorge Bridge.

New River Gorge Bridge

Do You Dare? The Bridge Walk

The New River Gorge Bridge is one of the highest bridges in the USA. For one of the most thrilling experiences in the park, you can walk on the catwalk that is located 25 feet below the bridge.

Tours are operated daily. They last about 3 hours and for half of this time, you walk from one end of the bridge to the other, on a 24 inch wide catwalk. It’s an awesome view, to look straight down at the New River and to feel the vibrations as tractor trailer trucks drive by overhead.

To do this, visitors wear a harness which is attached to a safety line that spans the length of the bridge. As you slowly walk under the bridge, your guide gives interesting facts about the bridge and the area.

It’s a cool experience and we highly recommend it for those who are looking to do something unique in this national park.

Tours are offered by Bridge Walk and start at $75. Book your tour in advance because this is a popular thing to do.

On the New River Gorge Bridge

New River Gorge Bridge Walk

Arch of the Bridge

Bridge Walk

Julie and Tim New River Gorge

Interesting Facts about the New River Gorge Bridge

  • 3rd highest bridge in the United States
  • 3rd longest single arch bridge in the world
  • Longest single arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere
  • 13th highest bridge in the world
  • Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

Visit the Park on Bridge Day

On the third Saturday in October, the New River Gorge Bridge closes to traffic and opens to pedestrians.

This is one of the largest extreme sporting events in the world. On Bridge Day, BASE jumpers leap from the bridge (in 2019, there were over 300 BASE jumpers) and rappellers ascend and descend from the catwalk. There is also a zipline that runs from the bridge to Fayette Station Road (the High Line), that you can sign up for in advance.

For more information about Bridge Day (and making your High Line reservation), here is a link to the official website.

Hike the Endless Wall Trail

Distance: 2.8 mile loop | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Total Ascent: 400 feet | Time: 1 to 2 hours

The Endless Wall trail is one of the best hikes in New River Gorge National Park. It’s relatively easy and the trail leads out to overlooks along the “Endless Wall,” a long line of Nuttall sandstone ridges high above the gorge.

Diamond Point is the main overlook on the Endless Wall Trail.

Endless Wall Trail

Things to Do in West Virginia photo

To do this hike, you can either do it as a loop or as an out-and-back hike. We did the full loop and don’t recommend it. For most of the loop, you are hiking through a forest, which is nice, but it gets repetitive. And the loop ends with a 0.5-mile walk along Lansing-Edmond Road, which is boring and a bit dangerous.

If we did it again, we would park at either the Endless Wall Trail parking lot or the Nuttall Parking Lot and do the hike out-and-back. It’s the same distance both ways if you turn around at Diamond Point.

The Headhouse Trail & Conveyor Trail

Distance: 2.4 miles out-and-back | Difficulty: Strenuous | Total Ascent: 850 feet | Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours

We are not fans of this hike, but I’m listing it because you might read about it from other sources.

It’s a moderate hike down to the Headhouse, where coal was transferred to a conveyor belt to be carried to the bottom of the gorge. If you keep going, the trail gets even steeper, as you hike down the Conveyor Trail for a mediocre view of the conveyor belt. Then, it’s a tough uphill hike back to the parking lot.

Headhouse Trail

The hike itself is rather boring…just a walk through a forest on a gravelly trail. And there are better coal mining sights to visit in the New River Gorge National Park and we only recommend doing this hike if you have lots of time or an interest in visiting the Headhouse.

Nuttallburg Mine Site

This was a bustling mining community in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, after the completion of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. The mine closed in 1958 and in 2005 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Headhouse, listed above, is part of the Nuttallburg Mine Site. However, most of the buildings are located lower, along the river, and can be reached by car. Learn more on the National Park Service website.

Kaymoor Miners Trail

Distance: 1.6 miles out-and-back | Difficulty: Strenuous | Total Ascent: 1,000 feet | Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours

This is one of the toughest hikes in New River Gorge National Park. It’s also one of our favorites.

This trail starts on the upper rim of the gorge and rapidly descends towards the river. It takes you to another historic coal mine, the Kaymoor One Mining Complex.

First, you hike down a steep, dirt trail to the top of the mining site.

Kaymoor Miners Trail things to do in New River Gorge


The steps are where the real fun begins. To get to the coal processing plant, you will walk down 819 steps. By the time we got to the bottom, our legs were shaky and we were left wondering how we’d climb back up all of those steps.

Kaymoor Mine Stairs

At the end of the steps, you can see the old buildings from behind the fence.

Note: The buildings at the coal processing plant are located behind a fence. Please don’t cross the fence to visit the buildings. Not only is it dangerous but walking in and around these buildings also weakens these structures.

To return to your car, it’s time to climb back up all of those stairs. Maybe this hike should be renamed the Endless Stairs Trail.

Tim and I counted 819 steps. The National Park Service says its 821. Either way, it is a LOT of steps, but counting them somehow made it feel easier.

From the top of the stairs, it’s just a half mile to go, now on a steep dirt trail. And guess what, there are stairs here, too! 121 to be exact. Enjoy!

For more information about the best hikes in New River Gorge National Park, plus elevation profiles, trail information, and many more photos, check out our New River Gorge Hiking Guide.

Long Point Trail

Distance: 3 miles out-and-back | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Total Ascent: 400 feet | Time: 1 to 2 hours

For one of the best views of New River Gorge Bridge, put this hike on your list.

It’s a relatively easy hike. For most of the way it is flat, except for the last part of the trail, as you descend down to Long Point. Here’s the view.

Long Point Overlook

Note: Mountain bikes are permitted on most of this trail, so keep an eye and ear out for bikers.

Fayette Station Road

This is a great scenic drive in New River Gorge National Park.

Before the construction of the New River Gorge Bridge, this road was the only way that drivers could cross the gorge. At that time, it was a narrow, two-way road and it took about 45 minutes to drive the entire distance.

Now, it’s still a narrow road, but it is one-way only. Fayette Station Road starts near Canyon Rim Visitor Center and then descends down to the New River. The road crosses under the New River Gorge Bridge, makes several tight turns, and offers nice views of the bridge and the river.

At river level, you will cross the New River on the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge.

New River Gorge Bridge

View from the Tunney Hunsaker Bridge

At Fayette Station, you can park and walk out onto the rocks for awesome views of the New River Gorge Bridge.

New River Gorge Bridge in October


Beyond Fayette Station, the road climbs back up to the rim. On this part of the drive, you can make a pitstop at the Fayetteville Trail trailhead for this lovely view of Wolf Creek.

Wolf Creek West Virginia

With stops, this drive takes between an hour and an hour and a half. There is a Fayette Station Road Audio Tour CD that you can pick up at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center before you go, which explains the history of this area.

Note: This road is not suitable for RV’s, trailers, or large vehicles.

Go Whitewater Rafting on the New River

The New River has long been a top spot for whitewater rafters.

New River Whitewater Rafting things to do in New River Gorge

There are two sections to the New River and which one you choose depends on your ability level, experience, and level of adventure.

The upper section (southern part of the river) of the New River is slower and more tranquil. The river is wider and has easy rapids up to Class III. If you are new to whitewater rafting, this is a good place to start.

The Lower Gorge, which is the northern section of the river, has much larger rapids, from Class III to Class V, with many more obstacles.

The main season runs from April through October but there are rafting trips all year.

There are several commercial companies that offer guided whitewater rafting trips. For the full list, click here. 

Explore the Trails on a Mountain Bike

One of the best ways to explore New River Gorge National Park is on a mountain bike. The majority of the trails are located near Canyon Rim. Several hiking trails listed above, such as the Headhouse Trail and Long Point Trail, are also mountain biking trails.

The Arrowhead Trails are a network of 13 miles of trails that loop through the Craig Branch Area, which sits right next to the Long Point Trail and Kaymoor Miners Trail. It was constructed by Order of the Arrow (the Boy Scouts of America national honor society) in 2011.

For a full list of mountain biking trails in the park, visit the National Park Service website.

If you need to rent a bike, the best place to do so is at the Arrowhead Bike Farm and Campground. This bike rental facility has a convenient location near the Arrowhead trails. They also run a campground and a restaurant (the Handle Bar). Their outdoor patio is a great place to hang out at the end of the day.

Arrowhead Bikesthings to do in New River Gorge

Arrowhead Bike Farm

Go Rock Climbing

The sandstone cliffs at New River Gorge National Park create one of the top rock climbing destinations in the United States. There are over 1,400 established climbing sites here.

The main climbing season runs from April through October, although it is possible to climb all year.

Things to Do in the Thurmond Historic District

The Historic Town of Thurmond

In the early 1900’s, Thurmond was a bustling, busy town. Coal was brought in from the nearby mines and shipped out via the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. This was one of the richest towns in West Virginia and in 1910 it was the main railroad center on the C & O Railway.

Later, as coal production began to decline, the town closed down. Now what remains are the historic buildings…boarding houses, the banks, saloons, and hotels.

Thurmond Historic District

For the best experience, the National Park Service has a walking tour with nine sites to visit. 

To get here, it is a 20-minute drive from US-19 on Thurmond Road. From Canyon Rim Visitor Center, it is a 30-minute drive.

Concho Rim Overlook

The Concho Rim Overlook offers a nice view over Thurmond and the New River. Even though it sits on the opposite side of the river from Thurmond, it takes 30 minutes to drive here. This is the view.

Concho Rim Overlook

Worth it? If you have several days in New River Gorge National Park, then yes, it might be worth it (if you like the view pictured above). But Grandview is a similar but better view, as you will see next.

Things to Do in Grandview

A visit to Grandview is one of the best things to do in New River Gorge National Park.

As I said earlier, this is our favorite area of the park. The views of the New River are great and the Castle Rock Trail is our favorite hike in New River Gorge in National Park.

Grandview Overlook

From the Grandview Overlook (also called the Main Overlook) you get a view of a horseshoe bend in the New River. This overlook is located just a short walk from the Grandview Visitor Center parking lot.

Grandview Main Overlookthings to do in New River Gorge

Grandview Overlook

Several hiking trails also start near here.

The Castle Rock Trail + Grandview Rim Trail

Distance: 1 mile loop | Difficulty: Moderate | Total Ascent: 210 feet | Time: 1 hour

Tim and I loved this hike. It’s short, it’s sweet, and hiking along the sandstone cliffs is tons of fun. The National Park Service labels this as a strenuous hike but I think that’s a bit of a stretch. There are a few steep climbs and descents but overall it is doable for most people.

Here are photos from the trail.

Castle Rock Trail

Hikes in New River Gorge


This trail starts next to the Main Overlook at Grandview. At the end of this trail, turn left to hike the Grandview Rim Trail back towards the visitor center. This trail is mostly flat and has a few nice overlooks, similar to the Main Overlook.

Grandview Trail things to do in New River Gorge

Grandview Rim Trail

Tunnel Trail

Distance: 0.6 miles out-and-back | Difficulty: Easy to moderate | Total Ascent: 150 feet | Time: 30 to 45 minutes

This is another fun hiking trail that takes you along massive sandstone cliffs. It starts at the Main Overlook and then winds along the cliffs.

From the trail, look for entrances into the tunnel…a narrow cave that cuts through the cliffs. The tunnel is closed for safety concerns, so you can’t hike all of the way through, but you can walk a short distance into the tunnel.

Tunnel Trail

Turkey Spur Overlook

A series of staircases lead to several overlooks of New River Gorge. To get here, drive Turkey Spur Road to the very end and park in the parking lot. You can also get here on the Grandview Rim Trail, but if you are short on time or energy, save your steps and make the drive instead.

Turkey Spur Steps things to do in New River Gorge

Turkey Spur Overlook

Turkey Spur Overlook

Things to Do in Sandstone

Sandstone Falls

Sandstone Falls is the largest waterfall on the New River. It is a spectacular place to visit.

From a series of boardwalk trails and bridges, you get views of both the upper and lower falls. If you want a closer view, you can hike to other viewpoints of the falls.

At the end of the boardwalk, there is a trail that leads onto the island. For views of the lower falls, follow the trails to the right. They lead out to views like this:

Sandstone Falls


For views of the upper falls, head to the left. There is a beach that offers a great view of the upper falls.

West Virginia in October


If you want to get even closer, you will have to scramble up onto the rocks closer to the falls and the view is amazing. Just be careful here. There are numerous warnings about drownings, should you fall in.

Sandstone Falls New River Gorge

Getting Here: The only way to get to Sandstone Falls is on a scenic drive through Hinton. Keep reading to learn more.

Scenic Drive to Sandstone Falls

Start at the Sandstone Visitor Center, which is located on Meadow Creek Road near Highway 64. This visitor center has lots of information about the New River watershed and the cultural history of the indigenous people in this area.

As you drive south on WV-20, towards Hinton, you will pass several scenic overlooks. These include Sandstone Falls Overlook and Brooks Overlook. Hinton is a historic town which makes a nice place to stop now or after your visit to Sandstone Falls. We had lunch at Market on Courthouse Square and recommend it.

From Hinton, cross the New River and drive New River Road north towards Sandstone Falls. Once at the falls, have fun walking the boardwalk trails and taking in the awesome views.

PLANNING YOUR VISIT: From Sandstone Falls, you will have to drive New River Road south back to Hinton and then continue on to your next destination. The full drive (Sandstone Visitor Center to Hinton to Sandstone Falls and then back to the Sandstone Visitor Center), takes just over an hour, without stops. The entire visit can take 3 hours or longer, depending on how much time you spend in Hinton and Sandstone Falls.

US National Parks List

Things to Do Outside of New River Gorge National Park

The next few things we list are located along the New River and they are not part of the official national park, but they are still well worth adding on to your visit.

African American Heritage Auto Tour

This self-guided auto tour includes 17 historic sites both inside and outside of the national park. It tells the stories and history of black coal miners and railroad workers. It is available on CD at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and it will also be available through the NPS app.

John Henry

John Henry Historical Park

Hawks Nest State Park

In Hawks Nest State Park, there are a few things we recommend.

Cliff Side Trail

Distance: 1.8 mile loop | Difficulty: Moderate | Total Ascent: 430 feet | Time: 1 to 2 hours

This hike takes you along sandstone cliffs, similar to the Castle Rock Trail, and offers views over the New River and Hawks Nest Dam.

Cliffside Trail

We hiked the full loop but we recommend starting at the Cliff Side Trailhead, hiking along the sandstone cliffs, and then turning around once the cliffs end. Doing it this way saves you a boring walk through the woods and a somewhat dangerous walk back on US-60.

Hawks Nest Overlook

From this overlook, you have a nice view of the New River and the Hawks Nest Dam. Park in the parking lot and it’s a quick and easy walk out to the viewpoint.

Hawks Nest Overlook

Hawks Nest Overlook

Lover’s Leap Overlook

This overlook is located behind the Hawks Nest Lodge. Here is the view. This is also the location of the tram, which connects the lodge with the New River and the Jet Boat Ride (mentioned next). The tram runs during the summer and early fall.

Lovers Leap Overlook

Lovers Leap Overlook

Jet Boat Ride on the New River

Starting next to Hawks Nest State Park, you can take a jet boat ride down to a view of the New River Gorge Bridge and back. It’s a nice way to see the bridge from the water, especially for those with no desire to go whitewater rafting.

Hawks Nest View

Tours last 30 minutes and are offered Thursday through Monday (closed Tuesday and Wednesday) from June through October. Tickets cost $30 for adults. They run on a first-come first-serve basis and tickets can be purchased at the Hawks Nest State Park Lodge or at the dock. For updated pricing and hours, visit the official website.

Getting Here: The dock is located at the end of Hawks Nest Road. This is a narrow dirt and gravel road. If you don’t want to do this drive, there is also a tram that runs from the lodge to the dock during the summer months. If you do the drive, keep a lookout for this beautiful waterfall which you can see from the road (but you will need to hike down to river level for this view):

Hawks Nest Waterfall

Cathedral Falls

This waterfall is located just a few minutes from Hawks Nest State Park. Park in the Cathedral Falls parking lot and you don’t have to walk far to get this view.

Cathedral Falls

Cathedral Falls

The Grist Mill at Babcock State Park

The Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park is one of the most photographed sights along the New River.

Babcock State Park

At Babcock State Park, you can also go hiking, mountain biking and fishing. This park is located 25 minutes from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center.

How Many Days Do You Need in New River Gorge National Park?

If you want to visit the three main areas of New River Gorge National Park (Canyon Rim, Grandview and Sandstone) and have enough time to go whitewater rafting, you will need three to four days.

The hikes are short and it does not take much time to visit the overlooks, but because the park is so spread out and divided up into individual sections, you will spend a lot of time driving from place to place.

If you only have one day in New River Gorge National Park, I recommend visiting the overlooks at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, hiking the Endless Wall Trail or the Long Point Trail, maybe doing the Bridge Walk, and then ending the day at Grandview.

If you have two days in New River Gorge National Park, spend your first day at Canyon Rim. Visit the overlooks, hike one or two trails, do the Bridge Walk, and drive Fayette Station Road. On day 2, go whitewater rafting or mountain biking in the morning and spend the afternoon in Grandview and/or Sandstone.

With three days in New River Gorge National Park, hike the Long Point Trail and Endless Wall Trail, visit Babcock State Park, visit the overlooks at Canyon Rim Visitor Center, and then drive Fayette Station Road. If it interests you, visit Concho Rim Overlook and the Thurmond Historic District. On day 2, go whitewater rafting, rock climbing, or mountain biking in the morning and walk the Bridge Walk or go hiking in the afternoon. On day 3, visit the Grandview and Sandstone areas of the park.

For more information on how to plan your itinerary, check out our New River Gorge Itinerary article, which has detailed itineraries for 1, 2, and 3 days in the park.

Best Time to Visit New River Gorge National Park

April through October is a great time to visit New River Gorge National Park. During this time, the visitor centers are open and whitewater rafting tours are operating, not to mention that the weather is warm.

In April, temperatures can still be very chilly. Even though whitewater rafting tours are operating at this time, I imagine that it could still be very cold. Trees begin getting their new leaves in the spring and by the end of May, the park will be very green.

During the summer months, temperatures are warm and thunderstorms are common. With summer break, crowds are the highest from the end of June through August.

In September, temperatures begin to cool off and the days are getting shorter. Bridge Day attracts the highest crowds of the year and this event takes place the third weekend in October.

Our visit was from October 18 to 21. In this part of West Virginia, the leaves were just beginning to change color. We were hoping to see more fall colors but we timed our visit a little bit too early. Based on our visit, if you want to visit New River Gorge National Park with brilliant fall colors, plan your visit the last week of October into early November.

During the winter months, temperatures can get below freezing and snow is likely.

Sandstone Falls

Sandstone Falls

How to Get to New River Gorge National Park

The closest airport is in Charleston, West Virginia, which is 60 miles from the park.

Combining New River Gorge National Park with other nearby sights makes a great road trip. Here are the driving distances and times to nearby destinations:

Where to Stay

There is no lodging inside of the park. There are primitive camping sites in the park, but these have limited restroom facilities and no drinking water. Learn more about the campsites here. There are also camping sites at nearby state parks (Babcock and Hawks Nest).

Fayetteville is the gateway into New River Gorge National Park. This is the one of the most convenient locations to stay but lodging is limited. The Quality Inn New River Gorge gets the best reviews and it is just minutes from the New River Gorge Bridge.

We stayed in Beckley (because of its large number of hotels) and ate most of our meals in Fayetteville. In Beckley, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott but the Hampton Inn and the Holiday Inn also get good reviews. From Beckley, it’s a 30 minute drive to most of the sights in the park.

Where to Eat

Fayetteville has a great location, both for lunch and for dinner, especially if you will be in the Canyon Rim area of the park.

Wanderlust Creativefoods was my favorite restaurant (the chicken tikka masala is great!).

The Cathedral Café & Book Store is a nice brunch and lunch spot. This cathedral has been turned into a restaurant and this busy place serves great soups, sandwiches, breakfast foods, and Chai tea.

At the end of a long day hiking, rafting, or biking, get your pizza fix at Pies and Pints.

The Station Market and Bistro and the Wood Iron Eatery also gets great reviews.

Note: Many restaurants in Fayetteville are not open 7 days a week. Many were closed Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday.

Plan Your Visit

Entrance Fee: There is no fee to enter New River Gorge National Park.

Hours of Operation: The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Many visitor centers have seasonal hours of operation.

Get updates on road conditions and trail closures, as you plan your trip and just before your visit, on the National Park Service website.

If you have any questions about the best things to do in New River Gorge National Park, let us know in the comment section below.

More Places to Visit Near New River Gorge

NEW RIVER GORGE: Learn how to plan your time in our New River Gorge Itinerary, with suggestions for 1, 2 and 3 days. We also have a list of the Best Hikes in New River Gorge.

NEARBY NATIONAL PARKS: Shenandoah National Park is located in nearby Virginia. Or, venture south to North Carolina and Tennessee and spend some time in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

NEARBY DESTINATIONS: Asheville, North Carolina makes a great weekend destination. You can also spend a few days on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail or visit the highlights of Washington DC in our One Day Walking Tour of Washington DC.

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries. You can also learn more about the national parks and get a FREE printable checklist in our US National Parks Checklist.

USA ROAD TRIPS: Planning your next big adventure in the USA? Check our our USA Road Trip Guide for travel ideas and sample itineraries.

Read all of our articles about USA in our United States Travel Guide.


New River Gorge National Park Guide


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Comments 9

  1. Avatar for Joanne
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      A lot of the park activities require hiking, walking a lot of steps, or biking or rafting. You could visit Grandview Overlook for a nice view of the park but other than that, most activities require a fair bit of walking and/or stairs.

  2. Avatar for Loraine Hess
    Loraine Hess

    Thank you for this wonderful article on our new national park. We are fortunate to live less than 2 hours from this area so have visited most of these places, and have done many of these hikes and seen many of these beautiful overlooks and waterfalls over the past several years. It is actually one of our favorite places to go for a day trip, and has been for the past 50 years. We love taking our camper to Babcock for a week and seeing the beauty of Babcock as well as having a short drive to Fayetteville and the New River Gorge area. What a great article you have written, and what beautiful pictures you have taken. Thank you again for such a wonderful promotion for such a beautiful area.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      You are welcome! We loved our visit and are thrilled to have a new national park somewhat close to where we live too (we live in Maryland). Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Atul P
    Atul P

    Thank you for this beautiful blog! I’m going to visit New River Gorge NP and used your site to plan around. Can’t wait to hike there!.

  4. Avatar for Francesca

    After a five-day visit last June, I totally agree with everything here! We (myself, husband, and children ages 5 and 7) rented a CCC cabin in Babock State Park and loved it – atmospheric, economical, and convenient location. Our cabin had a small kitchen, large dining area, Queen-sized bed in the main room, separate bedroom with two bunk beds, and a full, modern bathroom. I also recommend a “gentle” float trip down the New River, even with young children – we booked with West Virginia Adventures and loved it. Our children were also able to do most of the hikes mentioned in this post, in including Endless Wall (our favorite) and Long Point.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  5. Avatar for Sara

    I was so excited to see this post for New River Gorge National Park! We stopped for two days in August as part of a bigger road trip and absolutely loved it there. We hiked the Grandview/Castle Rock Loop, drove out to Turkey Spur overlook, checked out the Canyon Rim overlooks, hiked the Endless Wall as an out-and-back, hiked the Long Point Trail, rafted the Lower New River, and completed the Junior Ranger program (my 10-year). Enough to get a taste and want more, and this guide is great to help figure out what should be next on any return visits.

    Re: lodging, we stayed at a VRBO rental in Fayetteville that was just wonderful — super comfortable, and it also operates as an antique store so many of the furnishings/decorations are for sale. It would be too big for just a couple, but was absolutely perfect for families, much better than a hotel. There are also some very nice looking apartments we passed on because they had a two person maximum. Staying in Fayetteville was super convenient.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Sara. Thanks for writing in! And thank you for the VRBO rental recommendation. There is a lot to do in and around the New River Gorge…and it would make a great road trip with other nearby parks, like Shenandoah and the Smoky Mountains. Cheers, Julie

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