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Almost Heaven: “Exploring the Wonders of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve"

Nestled in the heart of West Virginia, the New River Gorge stands as a testament to the raw beauty and untamed wilderness that the United States has to offer. A visit to this natural wonder promises breathtaking landscapes, thrilling outdoor adventures, and a deep dive into the region's rich history.

The New River Gorge, carved by the mighty New River, boasts rugged cliffs, lush greenery, and panoramic views that will leave you in awe. Hikers and nature enthusiasts can embark on trails like the Endless Wall Trail, offering stunning overlooks of the gorge, or the Long Point Trail, leading to a breathtaking vantage point.

When to Visit:

The best time to visit New River Gorge depends on your preferences and the activities you have in mind. Generally, late spring to early fall (May to October) is considered the optimal time for a visit. During this period, you can enjoy pleasant weather, lush greenery, and a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, rafting, and camping.

Late spring (May to June) offers mild temperatures, blooming flora, and vibrant wildlife. Summer (July to August) brings warmer weather, making it ideal for water activities like whitewater rafting. Fall (September to October) showcases stunning foliage, creating a picturesque backdrop for hiking and exploring the gorge.

Keep in mind that Bridge Day, a popular festival in the region, takes place on the third Saturday of October. If you're interested in witnessing BASE jumping and enjoying the festive atmosphere, planning your visit around this time can be a unique experience.

While the warmer months are generally preferred, it's essential to consider personal preferences and the type of activities you enjoy. If you're a fan of milder temperatures and colorful landscapes, fall might be your ideal time to visit. However, if you prefer warm weather and water adventures, the summer months might be more suitable.


White Water Rafting:

The New River, known for its powerful currents and dramatic gorges, creates an ideal canvas for white water rafting. As you embark on this adventure, the river unfolds before you, revealing a landscape that seamlessly blends beauty and excitement.

Whether you're a novice seeking a memorable introduction to white water or a seasoned rafter craving a challenge, the New River Gorge offers an array of rapids catering to different skill levels. From the gentle currents to heart-pounding Class V rapids, there's something for

Seasoned guides, well-versed in the river's nuances, accompany every rafting expedition. Their expertise not only ensures a safe journey but also adds a layer of storytelling, sharing the history and folklore of the gorge as you navigate its tumultuous waters.

The thrill truly begins as you encounter the notorious rapids. Feel the rush of the river as it propels your raft through twists and turns, sending adrenaline coursing through your veins. The New River's rapids, with names like "Double Z" and "Lost Paddle," provide an exhilarating challenge.

Amidst the heart-pounding excitement, don't forget to appreciate the breathtaking scenery. Towering cliffs, lush greenery, and the sheer grandeur of the gorge create a stunning backdrop, making every twist and turn a visual spectacle.

Rock Climbing:

New River Gorge is renowned for its diverse and challenging climbing routes. From beginner-friendly crags to advanced multi-pitch ascents, the gorge offers an array of options that cater to climbers of all skill levels.

The sandstone cliffs that line the New River Gorge provide a unique and textured surface, creating a playground for climbers. The sheer majesty of these cliffs, coupled with the diverse rock formations, adds an extra layer of excitement to every climb.

For those seeking a combination of hiking and climbing, the Endless Wall Trail offers access to various climbing areas along its route. The trail provides stunning views of the gorge and leads to climbing crags such as Diamond Point and Junkyard.

Climbing enthusiasts can't miss the iconic Bridge Buttress, located near the New River Gorge Bridge. This area features a variety of routes, including classics like "Captain Crunch" and "Fantasia," providing a unique blend of challenging climbs and breathtaking views.

For those new to climbing or looking to explore the more advanced routes, local guiding services offer expertise and safety in navigating the challenging terrain. These professional guides not only enhance the climbing experience but also provide insights into the geological wonders and history of the gorge.

The New River Gorge Climbers' Coalition hosts annual climbing festivals, bringing together enthusiasts from around the country. These events offer a unique opportunity to connect with the climbing community, learn new skills, and explore the latest in climbing gear.


Hiking in New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is not just a physical activity; it's an immersive journey through a landscape that tells tales of nature's resilience and human history. As you explore the trails, breathe in the crisp mountain air, listen to the rustle of leaves, and let each step lead you to new discoveries in the heart of West Virginia's wilderness. Grab your backpack, lace up those boots, and let the trails of New River Gorge unfold before you, promising adventure, serenity, and an intimate connection with nature.

Renowned for its panoramic views of the gorge and challenging terrain, the Endless Wall Trail is a must-visit for hikers seeking a thrilling adventure. Follow the rim, and be rewarded with breathtaking overlooks such as Diamond Point and Fern Creek Falls.

For a relatively moderate hike with spectacular payoffs, the Long Point Trail leads to a jaw-dropping viewpoint of the New River Gorge Bridge. Capture the essence of the gorge's grandeur as you stand on the precipice overlooking the mighty river below.

Unearth the historical roots of the region on the Kaymoor Miners Trail, which descends into the gorge and leads to the remnants of an old coal mining site. Interpretive signs along the trail provide insights into the area's industrial past.

Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Beauty Mountain Trail, a serene hike through hardwood forests and rhododendron thickets. The trail rewards hikers with stunning views of the New River and the surrounding wilderness.

A short drive from the main gorge area, the Sandstone Falls Boardwalk provides easy access to one of the park's natural wonders. The broad cascades of Sandstone Falls, along with the informative boardwalk, create a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll.

Traverse the Grandview Rim Trail to witness breathtaking vistas from the Grandview area. Overlooks like Turkey Spur and North and South Overlooks showcase the New River weaving through the gorge against the backdrop of lush landscapes.

With trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging ascents, hikers of all skill levels can find a suitable path. Choose trails based on your preferences and fitness level, and explore the unique features that each trail has to offer.

While hiking is possible throughout the year, consider the seasons when planning your visit. Spring and fall provide milder temperatures and vibrant foliage, while summer offers lush greenery. Winter, though colder, unveils a different kind of serenity.

Mountain Biking:

Nestled within the heart of the gorge, the Arrowhead Trails offer an array of interconnected loops that cater to riders of all skill levels. From smooth flowing sections to technical descents, these trails provide a dynamic and diverse mountain biking experience.

Aptly named for its proximity to popular climbing areas, the Rock Climber's Loop takes riders on a thrilling journey through the forests, combining the challenge of technical features with glimpses of the New River Gorge's towering cliffs.

Explore the Southside Trail System for an immersive ride through dense woodlands and open meadows. This system features a variety of trails, offering riders the opportunity to tailor their experience based on skill level and preferred challenges.

For riders seeking an adrenaline rush and a bit of history, the Kaymoor Trail descends into the gorge, providing access to the remnants of a historic coal mining site. The technical descent is a thrilling adventure against the backdrop of the gorge's rugged terrain.

Connect with the region's history on the Thurmond-Minden Trail, which winds along the river and passes through the ghost town of Thurmond. As you pedal, you'll witness the remnants of the town's coal mining past and the scenic beauty of the New River.

For breathtaking views and challenging climbs, the Grandview Rim Loop offers riders an opportunity to ascend to panoramic overlooks. Sweeping vistas of the New River against the backdrop of lush landscapes make this trail a memorable mountain biking experience.

Local outfitters offer bike rentals and services for those traveling without their own equipment. Ensure your bike is trail-ready, and consider exploring the trails with the expertise and guidance provided by these services.

Trails within the park vary in difficulty, from beginner-friendly to advanced. Plan your route based on your skill level, and be prepared for the unique challenges presented by the diverse terrain of the New River Gorge.

Where to stay:

From cozy cabins to riverside retreats, this guide unveils the best places to stay in New River Gorge, ensuring that your visit to this West Virginia wonder is as memorable off the trails as it is on.

Cabins and Lodges:

  • The Resort at Glade Springs: Indulge in luxury amid nature at The Resort at Glade Springs. This upscale option provides a range of accommodation, from cozy lodge rooms to spacious vacation homes. Enjoy amenities like golf courses, spa services, and fine dining after a day of exploring the gorge.

  • ACE Adventure Resort Cabins: Embrace the adventure spirit by staying in one of ACE Adventure Resort's cozy cabins. Surrounded by the lush wilderness, these cabins offer a perfect blend of comfort and proximity to outdoor activities, making it an ideal choice for those seeking an immersive experience.

  • Country Road Cabins: Tucked away in the tranquility of the Appalachian Mountains, Country Road Cabins provide a rustic retreat with modern comforts. Choose from a variety of cabin styles, each equipped with private hot tubs, ensuring a relaxing evening under the stars after a day of exploration.


New River Gorge National Park and Preserve offers several campgrounds within its boundaries. These campgrounds provide both developed and primitive sites, allowing you to choose the level of amenities that suit your camping style. Popular campgrounds include Grandview Sandbar Campground and Glade Creek Campground.

If you're seeking a more primitive and secluded experience, backcountry camping is available within the national park. Obtain the necessary permits and venture into the wilderness, setting up camp in a peaceful spot away from the developed areas.

Elevate your camping experience by opting for riverside camping along the New River. Several outfitters offer overnight trips, allowing you to fall asleep to the soothing sounds of the river and wake up to the beauty of the gorge.


From the adrenaline-fueled rush of white water rapids to the serene tranquility of hiking trails, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve has woven an intricate tapestry of experiences. Each bend in the river, each trail through the forest, and each cliffside vista has narrated a story of resilience, natural splendor, and the enduring spirit of exploration.

Whether you've stood atop the iconic New River Gorge Bridge, felt the thrill of conquering challenging climbing routes, or simply reveled in the quiet solitude of a riverside campsite, the gorge has left an indelible mark on the hearts of those who venture into its embrace.

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