The New River Gorge varies in depth all along its several hundred mile journey through WV, VA, and NC. In places it is over 1,000 feet deep, and in others its banks are merely a few inches above the level of the river. The river itself varies from Class IV whitewater to a meandering stream that seems to barely creep. The most spectacular portions of the Gorge are, of course, in West Virginia. Some of the best climbing, hiking, and rafting on the east coast can be found in and around the New River Gorge in that state. And, as most people know, despite its name, the New River is probably the oldest river in North America, and one of the oldest on Earth.

I posted the location for the Gorge at the New River Gorge Bridge and NPS Canyon Rim Visitors Center.

For a nice animated panorama of the Gorge from the Canyon Rim, go here.

Getting There

To get to the National Park Service Canyon Rim Visitors Center, take Highway 19. The center is just north of the New River Gorge Bridge. 30 minutes north of Beckley, 30 minutes south of Summersville, 70 minutes southeast of Charelston.

There are literally hundreds of routes into the gorge along its length.

For information on Hawks Nest State Park, a good location to enter the gorge, go here.

And for information on Babcock State Park, which offers trails into prongs of the gorge, go here.

Red Tape

None of which I am aware.

When To Climb

The New River Gorge has a vast number of climbing routes, from novice to high expert. I am aware of climbing in all months, but I would assume Spring and Fall are best, with Summer likely being quite hot in the gorge. I have seen photos of ice climbing in the gorge in Winter.


Various camping areas in the gorge, some administered by the NPS, some by the state of WV, some private.

Mountain Conditions

One can generally get a good idea of the weather by checking Beckley, Summersville, or points north or south depending on what part of the gorge one wants to enter.

External Links

  • NPS New River Gorge Site
    The National Park Service's page on the New River.
  • Bubba City
    A page dedicated to a newly developed area at the New.
  • Bridge Day
    The official website of Bridge Day, the single day during the year it's OK to fling yourself off the New River Gorge Bridge.
  • New River Resources
    A page with links to rafting companies, climbing guide services, local amenities, and information.
  • RockClimbing.com: New River Gorge
    Great overview of the climbing at the New River Gorge. Individual pages for routes, walls, etc. Also links to related climbing pages.

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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gato - Aug 19, 2004 11:49 am - Hasn't voted

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The best time of year is Fall and Winter, for crisp, textured sandstone. You can climb in Spring and Summer too, but expect high humidity, bugs, poison ivy, and the "aggro sheen" that coats every climber's body during the southeastern summer.

The best guide book, in my opinion, is the second edition of the "New River Rock" book by Rick Thompson.


gato - Aug 19, 2004 11:54 am - Hasn't voted

Untitled Comment

Every year, on the third Saturday in October, wild and crazy folks gather on the New River Gorge Bridge just outside of Fayetteville, WV for a celebration of the insane. It's called Bridge Day, and you have to see it to believe it. Many people travel from all over the country to BASE jump and bungee jump from the bridge. I posted a link in the "Links" section that will take you to the official Bridge Day site. This is the 25th Anniversary happening this year, so it will be an out-of-control party!!

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Children refers to the set of objects that logically fall under a given object. For example, the Aconcagua mountain page is a child of the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits.' The Aconcagua mountain itself has many routes, photos, and trip reports as children.