National Parks of Southern West Virginia

With three areas managed by the National Park Service, Southern West Virginia is the only place in the country with National Parks so close in proximity! From epic whitewater to amazing vistas and beautiful waterfalls – the three National Parks are some of the most beautiful areas in the state.

Bluestone National Scenic River

The Bluestone National Scenic River is one of the most stunning, remote areas of the country—you can only reach it through the wilderness of 2 bordering state parks. The Bluestone National Scenic River protects a 10.5-mile section of the Bluestone River and was created in 1988 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Enjoy its peacefulness. Just you, the forest, the river calm and the rustling of wildlife. The best way to access the Bluestone National Scenic River is through Pipestem State Park. Be sure to take the aerial tram for a birds’ eye view of the park - and look out for the historic moonshine still located under a large boulder on the way down! Looking for a place to stay or something to eat while exploring the Bluestone area? Then you don't want to miss the quaint town of Hinton. This historic railroad town is filled with charming lodging options and delicious food. Visit the Market at Courthouse Square and fill up on pizza, gelato and much more!

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

Set out into the adventure center of the East Coast - the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve! Rolling rapids, miles of trail and jagged mountain cliffs call you out to play. From mild to wild, the Gorge is a haven for any outdoor pursuit. Every bend opens into wild, wonderful exploration and history. The New River is the oldest river on the continent and the park encompasses over 70,000 acres of land and 53 miles of river. Along the river, there are a number of prominent locations that are worth a pitstop. Sandstone Falls At Sandstone Falls, you can see the power of the famous river. This 25-foot waterfall is breathtakingly beautiful. Start out at the National Park Visitor Center just off the interstate, then take a pleasant drive along the river to the smaller Brooks Falls and the grand Sandstone Falls. Grandview As you travel along the New River, you’ll also want to stop at Grandview Overlook. This section of the National Park has spectacular views overlooking the river along with hiking trails and a seasonal visitor’s center.  New River Gorge Bridge Along with the roaring river and sandstone cliffs, the national river is also known for the New River Gorge Bridge, the longest steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere. You can stroll the catwalk under the bridge for a perfect vantage point of the river 876 feet below.                                                  Thurmond Thurmond was at its heyday in the 1920s with more coal running through it than Cincinnati, Ohio. The entire town of Thurmond is a designated Historic District on the National Register of  Historic Places.  

Gauley River National Recreation Area

You must be bold to go deep into the Gauley! Beyond the serene Summersville Lake and dam, a roaring river descends into the valley. Known as "The Beast of the East,” the Gauley River is considered to be one of the world’s top 10 whitewater rivers. Every fall, dam releases pump the river with even more water, creating some of the best whitewater on the East Coast. The Gauley attracts whitewater enthusiasts who travel from around the world to take on the rapids. The river is divided into two distinct sections: Upper Gauley and Lower Gauley. The whitewater section of the river stretches more than 27 miles dropping more than 800 feet. There are over 100 Gauley River rapids; more than 50 of them are rated Class III and higher, including 5 which are considered Class V+. If whitewater rapids are a little too daunting for you but you still want to experience the beauty of the Gauley River - then grab your fishing pole! The Gauley is a river to catch smallmouth bass, trout, walleye and much more. The Spring and Fall are the most popular seasons for fishing this area. Want to go fishing but not sure where to start? Book a fishing trip with one of the local outfitters! Overall, the Gauley River National Recreation Area protects 25 miles of the Gauley River and six miles of its tributary, the Meadow River.