A National Park is Born
Welcome to the newest national park in our nation! The New River Gorge National Park was officially deemed a national park on the register on December 27, 2020. You’ll find it in the southeastern portion of West Virginia.
RV Rental Locations in West Virginia and near New River Gorge National Park
Managed by the National Park Service as a National River since 1978, the new status that makes this an official park is expected to bring with it plenty more visitors who crave a slice of rugged outdoor experiences for themselves. It’s also been designated as a National Preserve, boasting 7,021 acres of gorgeous riverfront plus 65,165 acres that are prime for hunting and fishing. This dual status is a unique distinction, the first of its kind outside of the state of Alaska.
If you’d love the best of both worlds, it’s time to hop in your RV or rent one to head over to the New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia!
Getting There, Admission, and Best Time to Visit
You’ll find the New River Gorge National Park off Route 19 between Beckley and Hico. If you’re on I-64, you’ll find it between Mossy and Sandstone. It’s open 24/7 and you can visit the headquarters in Glen Jean on weekdays from 8am to 4:30pm. There are two main visitor centers, Canyon Rim and Sandstone, which are open daily from 9am to 5pm but closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
There’s no entrance fee to the New River Gorge National Park, making it even more of a gem to hurry and visit in your RV. Once everyone catches on about what a beautiful place it is and no charge for admission, you can expect it will get extremely busy.
Since it’s in the Appalachian Mountains, the weather can be unpredictable. Rangers say to expect it to change quickly and be prepared for sudden storms. It’s often cooler and wetter here than in the surrounding areas. The warmest month to visit as well as the one with the most precipitation is July so if you’d like to lessen your chances of rain or keep the heat down, visit at another time of year.
What to Do at New River Gorge National Park
If you’re up for adventures of all kinds, the New River Gorge National Park is absolutely the place for you. Before its official national park status, it became revered in the 1990s for rafting which is still one of the most popular things to do here today.
One of the park’s most popular places for whitewater rafting is known as the “Lower New” which is a 13-mile stretch of Class IV to V. There are seasoned companies that can take you out there for advanced adventures as well as more relaxed ones that are easy rapids on up to Class III that are perfect for families. These things will come at an additional fee but are worth the cost for the fun you’ll have.
Perhaps you’d rather get way up there in the sky, and at New River Gorge National Park, you can do exactly that. It’s ideal for rock climbers, especially in the spring and fall. There are over 1,400 routes to be found in the hard sandstone cliffs, each ranging from 30 to 120 feet high. If you’ve never tried it, the New River Climbing School has daily climbing and rappelling courses so you can learn in a safe way.
And if that’s too high for you to handle, why not check out the 12.8 miles of Boy Scout-built biking trails? They’re ideal for beginners and intermediate riders. You can bring your own traditional bike or choose the bike rentals at Arrowhead Bike Farm. After an invigorating ride, refresh with local craft brews sold at the bike farm too!
Or forget the wheels and go on foot through the variety of peaceful forest trails where you’ll discover wildlife and natural fauna in the most beautiful of ways. You’ll find well-marked and maintained trails, some of which can be connected so you can make a longer hike. Some are flat and smooth while others are steep and challenging. You can pick up a map at the visitor centers to choose a trail best suited to your skills.
Fishing, hunting, scenic drives, and guided activities are also available at the New River Gorge National Park. The African American Heritage Auto Tour is a self-guided tour with a free smartphone app that tells the tale of the experiences of African Americans in the gorge. You can contact the park about fees, permits, and other important information to plan your visit.
Where to RV at New River Gorge National Park
Since the New River Gorge National Park only offers primitive camping along the river, it’s best to find a place where you can stay in your RV. You can surely hike in and enjoy a rustic camping experience, though it is available on a first come, first served basis without any reservations. While there are no fees for camping, you may find the lack of facilities a burden, making it ideal to find an RV park nearby.
Beaver Lakes Campground is a beautiful spot to be where you’ll see wildlife in the ponds and trees surrounding you. It’s only 8 miles off of Route 19 and makes a great place to RV. Eagle’s Nest Campground is another choice with loads of activities and a family-friendly atmosphere that will make you feel right at home.
The New River Gorge Campground also offers RV camping. However, it is a bit more rustic. Thayer Campground is another option if you want a free place to park, though the amenities are minimal at best. Still, within your RV, you can make the best of everything wherever you go. You’ll always have your own amenities plus the surrounding beauty of the newly-minted but long-beloved New River Gorge National Park!