New River Gorge National Park
Despite its name and although it was only recently designated as a national park, New River Gorge is anything but — this incredible gorge, similar to the Grand Canyon or Columbia River Gorge of the west, has been carved out over the eons by the soft but persistent power of flowing water. Along with the mighty New River itself, this West Virginia wilderness encompasses a vast and vivid 70,000 acre stretch of countryside, and offers a huge array of both land- and water-based recreational opportunities.
Tucked into south-central West Virginia, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (which was just upgraded from National River status at the end of 2020) is located about an hour from Charleston, WV, close by to small towns such as Beckley, Beaver, and Hinton. It’s also only a short distance from the Virginia border and towns in that state like Roanoke.
New River Gorge is characterized by its carved-out river canyon, which is populated with beautiful Appalachian greenery that paints the rolling hills that spread out from the water. As in most parts of the Appalachian Mountains, weather can be unpredictable and quick to change, but generally, you can expect temperatures between the 20s and 40s in winter, 30 and 70 in spring and fall, and pleasant summers that range from 50-80 degrees. Precipitation can occur year round, but the wettest month is July.
The New River is one of the oldest rivers in the continent.
The New River Gorge Bridge is the 2nd largest single span steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.
In 2005, the New River Gorge Bridge was chosen to be the feature used on their state quarter.
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RV Resorts & Campsites in New River Gorge National Park
Traveling by RV? While there are no developed campgrounds offering electricity and water hookups to motorhomes and travel trailers inside New River Gorge National Park, there are some wonderful primitive accommodations — many of which cost $0 nightly. There are also resort-style developed campgrounds in the surrounding communities!
New River Gorge Public RV Parks
New River Gorge Private RV Parks
RV Rentals Near New River Gorge National Park
Nearby RV Rentals
Hit the Trails
Hiking is one of the primary reasons people visit this stunning ancient river gorge in the first place — and there are so many trails in the area, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. No matter your fitness or ability level, there are hikes available to help you get better acquainted with New River Gorge National Park.
New River Gorge Hiking Trails
Endless Wall Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
Terrain: Perhaps one of the most beloved trails in this area, the Endless Wall Trail offers stunning views with relatively little elevation gain — just under 300 feet. Keep in mind that the 2.3-mile distance is one-way; the trail can be made into a loop by walking along the road, resulting in a total distance of closer to 3 miles, or you can turn around and come back the way you came for a total hiking distance of about 5 miles.
Canyon Rim Overlook Boardwalk
Distance: 0.6 miles
Terrain: Short and accessible to those in wheelchairs or using strollers, Canyon Rim Overlook Boardwalk includes sweeping views of the New River Gorge Bridge, which sits suspended almost 900 feet above the New River below. Although the first section of this trail is easy and fully accessible, a lengthy 178-step staircase leads down to the observation deck.
Grandview Rim Trail to Turkey Spur Rock
Distance: 3.3 miles
Terrain: Seeing a little more than 300 feet in elevation gain, this trail is still in the easy-to-moderately-challenging category and offers beautiful vistas of both the forest and the river. Keep in mind that this trail descends before it ascends, so make sure you conserve your energy on the way out.
Long Point Trail
Distance: 3 miles
Terrain: A hike that travels down into the gorge from the outside, this trail includes about 400 feet of elevation gain, most of which occurs in a steep descent (which you’ll have to climb back up) right before you reach your destination. Once you arrive, you’ll enjoy a comprehensive view of the New River Gorge Bridge and the endless Appalachian sky above. This trail is considered moderate to challenging.
Kaymoor Miner’s Trail
Distance: 1.6 miles
Terrain: Short but sweet, the Kaymoor Miner’s Trail follows a swift, 900-foot descent down to the remains of an old mine; from there, the hike continues to display waterfalls, cliffs, and remarkable gorge views. Just keep in mind you’ll have to retrace all your steps down right back up again. This trail is on the challenging end of moderate.
What to Do at
New River Gorge National Park
Although it would be easy to spend an entire lifetime simply exploring the National Park itself, there are a great many other attractions to add to your itinerary in the area. From down-home southern cooking to shopping, museums, and more, here are our best suggestions for what to do while you’re in town.
No matter what you’re craving, you can find satisfaction in wild and wonderful West Virginia.
The local branch of a small but well-known chain in this part of the country, Cook Out offers a delicious menu of comforting favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers, and southern-style BBQ plates that will give the best local pit a run for its money.
Type: Burgers and BBQ
Offering single-serving and family-sized dinner specials along with pizza, salads, and an array of other comforting and classic American dining, The Market on Courthouse Square is located close to the park proper and is a great place to grab some delicious take-out to enjoy in the comfort of your own home (or RV!).
From classics like steak street tacos to more inventive (but delicious) delights like chorizo cheese fries, El Mariachi is the local go-to for all things Mexicano. Along with your meal, enjoy a flight of four expertly-mixed margaritas to wash it all down with. Just make sure you’ve brought along a designated driver!
Offering freshly-made Tuscan delights in a beautiful atmosphere that feels like you’re in a dear friend’s living room, it’s easy to see why Pasquale’s is considered one of the best restaurants in the whole state, let alone the Beckley area. Be sure to save room for some tiramisu or spumoni for dessert!
If the only thing you find more refreshing than a great meal is a delicious, carefully crafted beer to wash it down with, Weathered Ground Brewery is a must-visit for you. Along with their homemade suds, this spot also serves up casual favorites like chips and salsa, buffalo wings, salads, and brick oven pizzas.
Type: Pub Food
Location: Cool Ridge
Left something important behind… or just feel like doing some window (and not-so-window) shopping? Here are some of the best spots to peruse in the area.
Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia
A combination art gallery, gift shop, and fast-serve dining counter, Tamarack really does offer the best of West Virginia, particularly in the way of locally-created goods and craftsmanship. Stop by for a gift to take home to your friends and family… or for a treat for yourself.
Maybe you need a new pair of shoes or a jacket, or maybe you simply fancy a trip around the shops. Either way, if you’re in need of it, you can likely find it at Beckley’s Raleigh Mall, which offers popular and useful shopping and dining options such as Cheddar’s, Big Lots, and Tractor Supply.
New River Gorge National Park Store
Offering not only memorabilia and souvenirs to remember your time by, but also books and educational products to help you better enjoy the park, it’s definitely worthwhile to stop by one of the on-site National Park bookstores — and there are several to choose from!
Location: Several throughout park
Whether a rainy afternoon has you craving some indoor time or you’re just anxious to learn more about this area (and the world in general), here are some of the best museums to check out near New River Gorge National Park.
Hinton City Railroad Museum
What kid — or adult, for that matter — isn’t at least slightly obsessed with trains? The Hinton City Railroad Museum gives visitors a unique look into the history of this ever-so-important transportation style.
Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia
If you’ve got kids along for the journey, you know it can be difficult to keep them occupied and engaged — particularly during the learning process. The Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia offers the kiddos the chance to get up close and personal and have hands-on experiences of the world around them, which is so much more inviting than most any classroom can be!
Wildwood House Museum
Otherwise known as the General Alfred Beckley Home, the Wildwood House Museum is a beautiful and fascinating historic home that dates back to the 1930s. Come take a tour to learn a little bit more about what life was like in those days — you’ll marvel at both the similarities and the differences.
So much to see and do, so little time! Here are some not-to-be-missed sightseeing opportunities near the National Park — some of which, you’ll soon see, are actually underground!
Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine
Also known as the Phillips-Sprague Mine, the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine dates all the way back to 1889, and first shipped coal in 1904. Today, more than 1,500 feet of its passageways have been restored and are open to the public at affordable prices, giving you a unique glimpse into the life of coal miners past.
Twin Falls Resort State Park
If you’re looking for even more natural splendor to enjoy, Twin Falls Resort State Park is just a short drive from the New River Gorge area, and features both wild and developed recreation opportunities. Hike the short trail to the falls or some of the rest of the park’s 25-mile network, or relax in the on-site swimming pool after hitting some golf balls around the 18-hole course. The park also features a fully-functional Pioneer Farm, to give you more historical context about life in these parts of the world.
How to Get to
New River Gorge National Park
Now that you’re eager to explore New River Gorge National Park… how do you get there?
The closest major airport to the park is located in Charleston, West Virginia, which is about an hour away — you’d need to arrange ground transportation once you’ve arrived. Amtrak and Greyhound routes make stops in local areas, and taxis are also available.
For full directional information, including GPS coordinates for various park hot spots, check out this page.
Entering New River Gorge National Park
Although there are many ways to make your way to New River Gorge National Park, an RV really does offer some of the best bang for your buck as far as privacy, safety, and comfort are concerned. Once you rent an RV, you’ll have your very own getaway bungalow on wheels, which means using your own bathroom throughout the trip and also being able to prepare your own meals, which can help you save money! (Psst: you can save even more cash on your adventure by opting for a peer-to-peer RV rental through RVshare, where you rent directly from owners and save both money and hassle in the meantime.)
No matter how you make your way to New River Gorge National Park, we can’t wait to see and hear all about your adventure! Tag us in your photos and stories on social media @rvshare, or send details of your trip to us directly at [email protected]. Who knows? We might just feature you in an upcoming blog post or social media post of our own!