Sandstone Falls - 1,300'

New River Gorge National Park & Preserve


How old is the New?  That's a question that scientists are still grappling with.  With estimates ranging from 3 million years to 320 million years, however, one thing is certain.  The New River is anything but.  Rising in the high country of North Carolina, the New twists its way north through the Appalachian Mountains for 320 miles crossing through Virginia and into West Virginia along the way.  Just prior to its northernmost reach, where joining the Gauley it forms the Kanawha River, the New reaches the apex of its wild and natural splendor.  Here, over a distance of 53 miles, the New River has chewed over 1,000 feet down into the Appalachian Plateau creating the New River Gorge.  In 1978, President Jimmy Carter established the gorge as a National River with the intention of "conserving and interpreting outstanding natural, scenic, and historic values and objects in and around the New River Gorge and preserving as a free-flowing stream an important segment of the New River in West Virginia for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.”  New River Gorge National River quickly became a favorite recreation destination for outdoorspeople of all types, attracting over a million visitors a year by the early 2000's.  Then, late in 2020, the New River got an even bigger promotion...that of National Park status.  As New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, our 63rd National Park, preservation of the rich natural and cultural history of the gorge is now assured.

This album should serve as an appetizer of delights for New River Gorge.  All of the highlighted areas here are easily accessible by road and most only require short, half-mile or less walks on well-maintained trails.  The tour starts at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center which is located in the northern part of the park, right alongside the now-famous bridge  which also bears the gorge's name.  After that I travel down to the near-ghost town of Thurmond, deep within the gorge, for a glimpse at what life and industry looked like along this section of the New River in the early 20th Century.  A trip to the iconic overlooks at Grandview comes next, where some of the finest natural eye-candy in the whole park can be enjoyed.  Finally, I return back to the shore of the New near the southern end of the gorge.  Here a wonderfully well-constructed series of boardwalks takes me out to an island in the middle of the river from where I was able to enjoy the spectacular, fifteen-hundred-foot wide Sandstone Falls.  Hopefully after perusing these pics you'll gain an appreciation, as I did, of just how varied the highlights of this park are.  With that I invite you along with me on a whirlwind tour of New River Gorge National Park & Preserve...as always, enjoy!!