Axis Recommends – New River Gorge National Park
Whenever I’m scoping out which location I want to visit next, I always make a point to see if there are any National Parks or Monuments within proximity. We are privileged to live in a country that is chock full of natural beauty and wonders! Recently, I took a weekend trip to the “newest” National Park in the U.S. – the New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia.
Ironically, the body of water is called the New River because it’s one of the oldest rivers on the planet. Over thousands of years, the New River has carved its way into the Earth and the Appalachian Mountains and is now one of the most beautiful and bio-diverse regions in the world.
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New River Gorge National Park was designated in 2021 but has been officially established since 1978. A popular summer vacation spot, it offers many activities for adults and kids alike. Popular activities include hiking, whitewater rafting, tubing, rock climbing, and ziplining.
The iconic focal point of the Park is the New River Gorge Bridge, which is the longest single-span steel arch in the country and the third highest bridge in the U.S. On the 3rd Saturday of every October, the locals commune at the Bridge for “Bridge Day,” which includes BASE jumping, rappelling, and parachuting. For the less insane (I mean, ahem, “adventurous”), there are plenty of vendors, food, crafts, and live music.
Here are a few recommendations from my fun and exciting weekend at New River Gorge!
Where I Stayed
For the weekend, I stayed close to Fayetteville, WV, a neat small town that serves as a good base for all the activities you may want to participate in. I rented a tiny house through New River Cabins. When traveling to outdoorsy areas, I’m someone who prefers more rustic lodging but with air conditioning (I can only handle so much rustic in the middle of summer). These tiny homes fit the bill perfectly! It had just a few essentials for cookware and furniture, but since I spent most of my time outside of the lodging, it worked out just fine for me.
Food and Drink
Fayetteville has a nice selection of restaurants and cafes! Since it’s a small town, everything is centrally located and within walking distance. I enjoyed breakfast at the Wood Iron Eatery and at the Cathedral Café. Both had excellent food options, friendly service, and Insta-worthy furnishings inside. Wood Iron has a fantastic breakfast sandwich you can order to-go if you’re extra motivated to hit the trails!
I enjoyed dinner at the Southside Junction Tap House, with delicious tacos and a reasonably impressive craft beer selection. The staff was also amicable and responsive despite it being a full house on a Saturday night.
One place I wanted to have a meal at was Pies & Pints. As you probably guessed, it’s a pizza joint close to the downtown area. This is a local and tourist favorite, but sadly I went during a busy night, and the wait was over 2 hours. So, I would advise getting there early to beat the crowds!
Trails and Other Hot Spots
Concho Rim Overlook
Just a 20-minute drive from Fayetteville, this overlook offers a gorgeous view of a river bend, and you also get a distant glimpse of the historic town of Thurmond. Even on a weekend during peak tourist season, I was the only person there, so sadly, I think it gets passed up a lot. Worth seeing!
Check out more travel recommendations on our Axis Recommends page!
Fayette Station Bridge
For anyone afraid of rickety bridges, let me warn you that this bridge won’t make you feel warm and fuzzy. If you can get past that uneasiness, it’s a fantastic spot to snap a photo of the New River Gorge Bridge and the rapids of the New River flowing beneath it! You can also see rafters and tubers out enjoying their floats. If you don’t mind a short 5–10-minute walk, there is parking at three different locations near the Fayette Station river access point. You can also bring your swimsuit and take a dip in the river while you’re at it!
Endless Wall Trail
This is a perfect trail for hikers of various skill levels and abilities. It had rained the night before I went hiking, so be aware that it tends to get very muddy after a good rain. Mud aside, this was a beautiful one-hour hike with spectacular views at various points along the way, especially the Diamond Point Overlook. You can catch the blooming rhododendrons if you get here in late spring/early summer. They’re everywhere! (Pro tip: Download the AllTrails app for recommendations of local trails that you can filter based on distance and difficulty!)
If you have kiddos or doggos, this would be a great place to take them! The trail to view the falls is a boardwalk which makes for an easier walk. This is a popular spot to swim in the river and bring a picnic. It didn’t feel too crowded to me, even on a Sunday. If you’re based in Fayetteville, this is about an hour away. It gives you another perspective of the Gorge, and the nearby town of Hinton is adorable!
New River Gorge National Park is within a few hours of towns and cities where travelers often take assignments, including Beckley, Charleston, Morgantown, Roanoke, VA; and Charlottesville, VA. I highly recommend taking a trip here for a few days off and enjoying all the beautiful sights. Happy adventuring!