New River Gorge
The new river gorge bridge is the newest, highest, largest, and most exciting bridge of its kind in the world. It’s made from steel and concrete, but it looks a lot more like a giant balancing act than a giant construction project. Designed by renowned structural engineer Santiago Calatrava, it’s got enough support beams to feel weighty and heavy even though it doesn’t have any actual weight to move or support. When you cross over the new river gorge bridge on foot or by bike, you’re really getting a bird’s-eye view of the whole thing. You’ll see what looks like nothing but an endless strata of grayish concrete with no visible end… until you look down at the water running underneath. It’s all there—the ombre patterned rocks below, the glorious canyon surrounding your feet…
Gauley Season is a festival held to celebrate the release of water from the Summersville Dam that makes the river run higher and faster. This makes for a very different experience than the New River itself, which tends to be easy-going. If you haven’t been kayaking before, Gauley Season probably isn’t for you. If you have some experience, this will be an intense trip! You’ll find yourself paddling hard through big rapids with big waves and technical maneuvers.
The colder temperatures mean warmer clothing (no shorts in September!)—but nothing too bulky as it could get caught on your equipment. Pack for a cold swim (a shorty wetsuit is ideal), but hopefully, you won’t need it!
Everyone knows that West Virginia is a hot spot for outdoor adventure, but what’s not as well-known is that New River Gorge isn’t just a place—it’s an enormous area. With more than 1 million acres of land and water, it covers much of southern West Virginia. The region boasts some of the state’s best outdoor adventures, from hiking to whitewater rafting to rock climbing.
If you’re looking for the perfect destination, whether you’re planning a day trip or an extended stay, here are three areas to get your search started: Summersville, Fayetteville and Oak Hill. Each offers its own brand of adventure within easy driving distance of Interstate 64, U.S. Highway 19 or the Midland Trail scenic highway (U.S. Highway 60).
More to Explore
There’s plenty more to do in the Gorge.
- The National Park has an excellent visitor center with maps and information on the area.
- There are many hiking opportunities in the gorge. Check out Endless Wall Trail for breathtaking views of the gorge itself, Long Point Trail for a hike through one of the only old-growth forests left in West Virginia, or Bridge Buttress trail for a challenging climb to a great overlook point.
- History buffs will love exploring Thurmond, a former coal town that was nearly abandoned after new rail lines shut down local industry. Now it’s full of antiques shops and galleries made from old miners’ houses with their unique architecture intact.
For even more ideas, check out https://www.newrivergorgecvb.com/things-to-do/.
Outdoor Adventure Capital of the East
The New River Gorge region isn’t quite the Wild West, but it is a highly appealing place for outdoor adventurers. An easily accessible wonderland of natural beauty, the New River Gorge area is also rich in history, with attractions like Civil War battlefields and old mining towns. With a variety of things to do ranging from whitewater rafting to rock climbing to mountain biking, this part of West Virginia has something for everyone.
Because it’s only about a five-hour drive from Washington D.C., the New River Gorge region makes for an ideal weekend trip for those looking for some adventure within driving distance of the nation’s capital.
Outdoor Adventurer’s Paradise
It’s no secret there’s plenty of outdoor adventure to be found in the New River Gorge. If you love the outdoors, you’ll find your happy place here.
Whether you’re into mountain biking or kayaking, hiking or fishing, rock climbing or zip lining (or all of them!), come explore the wild and wonderful outdoors with us.
We have hundreds of miles of trails for activity enthusiasts who like to roam on foot; we boast some of the best whitewater rafting around; and if you prefer a more leisurely ride, pack up a picnic lunch and take a boat out on New River. Whatever your pleasure when it comes to getting outside, we’ve got it for you!
Taste of the New River Gorge Region
- Food Tours
- Farmer’s Markets
- Food Events & Festivals
The Mighty New River Gorge Bridge
Standing at 876 feet tall, the New River Gorge Bridge is the highest bridge in the United States east of the Mississippi River. Completed in 1977 and designed by Charles Kremmer, it is also the third longest steel arch bridge in the world and holds records for being the only bridge in America that hosts BASE jumpers. With over 1,700 feet of uninterrupted steel, this engineering marvel offers breathtaking views from all angles.
In 2005, West Virginia legislators voted to make October 15th New River Gorge Bridge Day to commemorate its importance not only to Fayette County but also to travelers from around the world. While some may argue that it is one of many bridges crossing a river (in fact there are three others), I think we can all agree that this architectural marvel is an iconic symbol of adventure. That’s why every fall hundreds of whitewater enthusiasts gather together to celebrate West Virginia’s most famous steel arch bridge—and watch daredevils jump off it!
There is plenty to do in New River Gorge and it is only a few hours away from Pittsburgh, PA, Washington, DC, Columbus, OH, Richmond, VA, and so many more towns and cities.
There is plenty to do in New River Gorge and it is only a few hours away from several Mid-Atlantic population centers. You’ll want to visit even if you don’t want adventure activities. The New River Gorge Bridge has the highest arch bridge in the United States, which makes for a great view. There are also many historic sites such as Fayetteville’s historic district, Babcock State Park with its grist mill and much more. In addition to hiking and biking, there are plenty of adventure activities such as climbing, kayaking, rafting and zip lining to satisfy your adrenaline fix. However, you should plan accordingly because this area can get very crowded during peak season!
New River is known for its whitewater rafting on the Gauley River and New Rivers; however it’s not just about rapids! There are several other things available like fishing or boating at Summersville Lake State Park (located less than 10 miles north), hiking down into one of many waterfalls near Fayetteville (check out Kaymoor Trail), exploring an abandoned mining town at Thurmond Depot via train tour offered through NRGRR (New River Gorge Railroad) among many others worth discovering yourself! Be sure not to miss the great attractions the area has to offer!!
Ray’s Campground is here if you are looking for camping or cabins near the New River Gorge, Fayetteville, or Summersville.