Corbitt's National Parks
    New River Gorge
                 National River



1978: National River

1998: American Heritage River

Size: 51,953 acres

2008 visitors: 1,212,854

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

New River Gorge National River protects 53 miles of whitewater river and 70,000 acres of land rich in cultural heritage and natural history. The area spans land between the towns of Hinton and Fayetteville in West Virginia, offering an abundance of recreational and scenic opportunities. These 53 miles are a free-flowing waterway and as such preserve a way of life that is quickly disappearing.

A National River is a special classification used by the National Park Service to designate riverways that contain significant cultural and natural resources. It's protected and preserved by the National Park Service just like other National Parks and Monuments.

What You're Going to See

The New River is a rugged, wild river, winding through deep canyons, and is among the oldest rivers on the continent. As always with a National Park site, you should start with the visitors center, and New River Gorge has four: Canyon Rim, Thurmond Historic District, Grandview, and Sandstone Visitors Centers. Exhibits, displays, and audio visual presentations offer information about the site. Rangers are available to answer more questions, of course.

Apart from just watching the river and learning about it in the visitors centers, you can also enjoy climbing, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, primitive camping and whitewater rafting.

The New River Gorge Bridge, so beautifully displayed on the West Virginia quarter, is visible from the River. It's located on U.S. 19, about 30 minutes south of Summersville and 30 minutes north of Buckley. The Canyon Rim Visitors Center is closest, and offers a good view from the gorge edge. At the time of its completion in 1977, the bridge was the longest steel-arch bridge in the world, at 3,030 feet. Now only the Lupu Bridge in Shanghai bests it by 105 feet. Every year the bridge is closed for a day to celebrate and to allow pedestrian traffic.

Personal Observations

The bridge sounds interesting. But, it's a river, right?

Getting There

To get to the downstream part of the River, and the Gorge Bridge, from Charleston take U.S. 60 east for 43 miles to the junction with Highway 16. Take that south for 9 miles to the junction with U.S. 19. The Visitor Center is one mile to the east.

To get to the upstream part of the River from Charleston, take I-64/I-77 southeast for 57 miles to the junction with I-64. Take that east for 22 miles and get off at Exit 139, a junction with Highway 20. The new Sandstone Visitor Center is just to the north of the highway.

Nearby Attractions

Ten miles to the north of the Bridge is Gauley River National Recreation Area. About 15 miles south of the Sandstone Visitors Center is Bluestone National Scenic River. The Appalachian National Scenic Trail runs about 30 miles southeast of the Sandstone Visitors Center.