15 Incredible Things To Do At New River Gorge West Virginia

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Discover beautiful, wild West Virginia with a trip to New River Gorge National Park. From exploring an abandoned ghost town to scenic hikes, we highlight a few of our favorite Things To Do In New River Gorge.  Endless adventures, thrills, and plenty of jaw-dropping landscapes await!

Where is New River Gorge West Virginia

New River Gorge is located near Fayetteville, in southern West Virginia, United States.  The Appalachian Mountains surround the area making it perfect for a scenic drive. The famous New River Gorge Bridge is located on U. S. Route 19, just north of Fayetteville, WV. It is easily reached from Interstates 64, 77, & 79 and U. S. Route 60.

The National Park Service maintains over 70,000 acres of land along the New River that make up the park. Discover one of the oldest rivers on the continent, explore historic sites, or embark on a thrilling outdoor adventure.

Things To Do At New River Gorge West Virginia

Canyon Rim Visitor Center

Upon arriving at New River Gorge, one of the first things to do is visit the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. Grab park maps, and gather information on hiking trails.  Exhibits and displays tell the story of New River towns and the industries that call the Gorge home.

Check out the special events and programs that happen throughout the year led by park rangers.

The New River Gorge Bridge Walk

New River Gorge Bridge

The most iconic symbol of the New River Gorge is the Bridge.  It is the fourth-longest single-span arch bridge in the world and can be seen in monetary quarters representing West Virginia.

The people of West Virginia celebrate this historic icon with many celebrations and events.  You can do the Bridge Walk, which takes you along the catwalk under the bridge.

Participate In Bridge Day

If walking across a bridge over 3,000 feet in the air strapped in a harness isn’t your idea of a good time, you might want to come for Bridge Day.  Each October, base jumpers gather to propel themselves off the bridge and into the gorge below. Indeed a sight to behold. The weekend celebration includes a music festival, 5 K, food, and more.

New River Gorge Hiking

The astonishing and striking views of the gorge will make you forget you are in West Virginia.  Having a wide variety of trails for all levels and abilities makes seeing the gorge a must on any bucket list.

Hiking in New River Gorge

We opted to hike Long Point Trail for our first hike with a baby. The trail is relatively easy, with the last .2 miles being ROUGH! However, it would be best if you did it to get the most speculator views of the bridge and the New River Gorge. The end is on the edge of a rock hanging over a cliff.

If you feel you will trip over your feet and tumble to your death, you may want to hang back in the trees for safety.  You can plan your hiking adventures and trails by looking at the park’s website. The keys are dead on to what to expect, so plan accordingly.

Endless Wall Trail

One of the best places to take in the scenic views of New River Gorge is by hiking the Endless Wall Trail. The moderate trail takes hikers to the scenic Diamond Point which overs the New River Gorge National River.

Nuttallburg

Deep in New River Gorge, you will find the abandoned coal-mining town of Nuttallburg. Once a booming coal operation started in 1873 by John Nuttall, it came to ruin shortly after 1920.

Nuttall sold the mines to the Fordson Coal Company to help supply coal to the Ford Motor Company.  The railroad regulations made shipping coal extremely difficult, and they ended up selling off the mines. The estate fell to ruin and was only recently acquired by the state park.

Those who want to venture into the heart of West Virginia can wind down the one-lane road to get to this forgotten town.

Visitors to this ghost town can still see the tipple, coke ovens, and the old conveyor used in the 1800s.  You can even hike to the coal mine entrance and see the remains of the coal cars.

The drive to get there is very scenic but can be slightly bumpy and unnerving for those not used to traveling in mountains or on gravel roads. Don’t be scared and take the drive because the reward is one you will remember for a lifetime.

Ghost Town of Thurmond

I can never turn down a good ghost town, and Thurmond did not disappoint. Remarkably, only five residents call the town of Thurmond home. Established in 1903 by Captain William D. Thurmond, this small town had more coal running through it than Cincinnati in the 1920s.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the town is also known to be the spot of the longest poker game ever at 14 years.

The town began to decline once diesel locomotives hit the scene and coal was not the primary fuel source. Today visitors can walk through what’s left of the preserved town, including the Depot, Commissary, and the National Bank of Thurmond.

The National Park owns many of the housing units and other preserved buildings. Amtrak does still service Thurmond; it is the second least used station. However, the train

tracks are very active, so keep alert!   Be sure to check this hidden gem out if you are passing through. Oh, and be cautious if there is construction because you may have to get into town by driving on the train tracks, facing down a cement truck. A terrifying and potentially pants-wetting situation.

We love discovering Ghost Towns around the US. Read about our visit to Nelson Ghost Town near Las Vegas

Go Mountain Biking

The beautiful landscapes and the various bike routes make the New River Gorge among the most popular destinations for mountain biking trips in the eastern U.S. With trails for all levels, bikers will enjoy spectacular views.

Many local outfitters offer bike rentals or guided biking tours.

Tip: E-bikes are ONLY permitted on the Stonecliff Trail.

The Hobbit Hole

Make time to visit one of the cool boutiques throughout the area. Tucked away is the Hobbit Hole which is full of unique treasures.  Saving the planet, one recycled treasure at a time! This is a shop featuring retro, vintage, and antique eclectic items.

Address: 100 S. Court Stree, Fayetteville, WV, 25840

Hawks Nest State Park

If you are still hungry for more views of the scenic gorge, swing into Hawks Nest State Park. The park is a great place to explore, with many outdoor activities. They have an aerial tramway, nature museum, whitewater rafting, and more.

They also have a lodge that offers luxury rooms in the middle of the wilderness. The overlooks provide excellent views of the river and the dam! I would allocate a whole day or more to exploring this fantastic park.

I look forward to coming back to and experiencing more of this state treasure.

Go Rock Climbing

Within New River Gorge National Park and Preserve are over 1,400 established rock climbs. Rock climbing in the New River Gorge region is located in three river gorges – New, Gauley, and Meadow. Nuttall Sandstone is some of the world’s oldest and most bullet-hard sedimentary rocks.

While many climbs are for experienced climbers, those starting out may want to book this excursion with a trained professional or tour group.

Visit the Mystery Hole!

What is the mystery hole? Well, I guess it will remain a mystery until you go and find out for yourself. I am not in the business of ruining the surprises that this place has in store for its patrons.

If you really must know, google it.  Just know that it is a classic Americana roadside attraction. Even if you don’t want to know what is inside, the outside is such an eclectic hot mess you wouldn’t want to miss it.

Where To Eat In New River Gorge West Virginia

Secret Sandwich Society

Any place called the Secret Sandwich Society is definitely going to get a visit from me.  The unique sandwiches that they offer will satisfy even the pickiest eaters.

In a little town with not much other than fast food, this place is much needed. They have a nice bar above the restaurant and a great outdoor dining space. Come here when you have finished being active for the day because you won’t want to do much afterward.

Cathedral Cafe and Book Shop

Swing into this little church-turned-cafe to grab a cup of coffee, a cocktail, or some lunch. The light filtering in through the old stained glass is very inviting and will have you getting cozy with a good book in no time.

We loved the hippie vibe that this place gives off and left feeling full and with good mojo. Take your time, grab a book or a game, and enjoy the company of the folks you are with. Heads up, their desserts are to die for. Check out their menu and decide what you will be ordering when you stop in.

Where To Stay In New River Gorge

Vacation rentals are abundant in New River Gorge, with various vacation rentals and cabins. Many feature amenities such as a hot tub, trail access, and scenic views.

We opted to book a whole house through Airbnb, which was a fantastic experience.  It was right on the hiking/ bike trails and was incredibly affordable.  Our host Colleen had thought of everything.

Other cabin rentals through various companies throughout New River Gorge seemed nice, but I felt we hit gold with our rental.

Consider the following for accommodation ideas: 

Booking.com

Daytrips From New River Gorge

No road trip is complete without some classic roadside attractions. On our way to the gorge from Cincinnati, we hit a few captivating places that might grab your attention.  Here are a few stops to add to your bucket list!

Mothman Museum

As many of you know, it is our mission to seek out the weirdest and most bizarre attractions, and this, my friends will not disappoint.  The urban legend of the Mothman is worth looking up if curiosity hasn’t already gotten the best of you.

A shortened version is that it is a mysterious winged creature that terrorized the small town of Point Pleasant. It is believed to be an omen for disasters such as the collapse of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River that killed 46 people.

Sightings of the creature are reported to this day, with claims of it being an alien.  Anything that freakishly fantastic is something I have to see with my own eyes!

Admission to the museum is dirt cheap, and they even offer a virtual tour online.  It is astonishing the number of newspaper articles and clippings they have related to eyewitness encounters.

The notorious recordings of police being chased by the Mothman are under lock and key, along with various other artifacts.  The folks at the museum were incredibly lovely and so friendly.  My daughter got to leave with her own Mothman sticker and plenty of photo ops. 

The town has embraced the legend of the Mothman, making it a must-see destination for many. Join them for their annual Mothman festival, visit the museum, and get that a selfie with the Mothman statue; there is even a Mothman 5K!!

Hillbilly Hotdogs

Fer a bit of good ole West Virginia grub git yerselves to Hillbilly Hot dogs!!  This hillbilly Hollar is truly a sight to behold.   Don’t worry. They aren’t serving up possum at this joint, but rather some out-of-this-world hot dogs and chicken!

So put on the feedbag and belly up to your table in the bus for the best hot dogs you will ever snarf.

If you bring your receipt from the Mothman Museum, you get 10% off your entire order or a free Mothman dog!! We opted for the free dog since we wanted to try as many as we could without making having to make a mad dash for the nearest outhouse!

You can’t go wrong with the Ala cheesy beefy weenie which is covered in Nacho cheese sauce, macaroni and cheese, and chili. Others claim that the weenie topped with fried spam reigned supreme.

You can up your weenie game and opt to do the Homewrecker challenge. It’s a mountain of weenie goodness you must consume in 12 minutes to receive your free shirt and hillbilly glory.

Fair warning: you will be miserable the entire day and need someone to drive you to your final destination.  You will also want to also get that shirt in the next size up.

The State Capitol Building in Charleston, West Virginia

Capital Building in Charleston, WV

If you ever have to drive through Charleston, WV you can’t help but notice the massive golden-domed capitol building.  Anything that commands attention like that is surely worth a stop.

A visit to any state capitol building is free and will often provide guided tours at no additional costs.  The public can often go on their own self-guided tours, just prepare to go through security and a scanner to enter. Even though the capitol building’s massive dome was under construction, the building and the grounds were gorgeous and worth the stop.

It was an added bonus for us that the capital was in bloom! If you are looking for a great lunch spot, head over to Black Sheep Burritos and Brews!  The tacos and beers won’t disappoint.

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Things To Do In New River Gorge West Virginia

staleghani48

We are an inquisitive family seeking to discover, create and inspire unique adventures and experiences. Our mission is to motivate families to collect moments and not things. Our family travel blog explores places off the beaten path that will spark your curiosity and provide inspiration for families traveling with children. We are not full-time travelers, just the everyday family that makes the most of each day off. When we are not traveling we enjoy being a tourist in our hometown of Cincinnati.

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