Have you ever wanted to visit a National Park but didn’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve been to a few but don’t feel you have enough time to see everything? New River Gorge National Park is perfect for you if that’s the case! You can easily explore the park in just two days with plenty of things to do and see. Here are some of our favorite tips on making the most of your visit. One of the great things about this park is that the hikes with great views are relatively short, which allows you to fit a couple of hikes in one day.
We stayed at a nearby West Virginia State Park, Babcock State Park. The sites are electric only but have a freshwater fill station and a dump station. We honestly were only home for meal prep, showers and sleep during our quick time there. We arrived nearly empty (to save on weight) and filled our water tanks to prepare for the few days we stayed. Did you know we installed an extra thirty-gallon fresh water tank in the RV?
Our site at Babcock State Park Campground was super spacious for our fifth wheel and truck. We often try to reach out and see if there is any drama with low trees and tight sites, but we couldn’t get a direct line to the park to answer, so we went in a little nervous. Not only was it plenty big for us, but it was also stunning in the fall when the leaves changed, which was when we were there.
Day 1 was hiking day. We used our Alltrails app, downloaded the hiking trail maps to our devices, and preloaded the National Park Service app and its corresponding New River Gorge content.
We started the morning off with the Long Point Trail Hike. It’s 3 miles out and back and seemed pretty straightforward, and it peaks halfway with a stunning view of the river gorge and the iconic Bridge.
We returned from that hike and headed to the Ranger Station to get our official Junior Range booklets, eat lunch and regroup for the next outing.
We took the scenic drive down Fayette Station Road from the visitor’s center. It did say no large vehicles, and we can see why as we needed to do a few K turns to make it around some of the hairpin corners of the road. We downloaded the guided audio tour from the National Park Services app and listened to it while we drove. It was entertaining to listen to how they used to get around the gorge before the Bridge was built and where they would dig for coal, the coal industry, the labor union wars, and so much more.
At the bottom, we walked out to the river’s edge and caught the view from the base of the Bridge.
Later in the afternoon, we hiked another short hike called the Endless Wall Trail, which is 2.5 miles long! The Endless Wall Trail is generally flat, so it’s easy to do this hike quickly! The views are spectacular! You’ll see the New River, the gorge, and all the surrounding cliffs. With about 7 miles under our belt, we went home to reset and prepare for Day Two.
Day 2: We drove to the Grandview Visitor Center, about a 50-minute drive from the Babcock campground. From the visitor center parking lot, it is a short walk to the viewpoint overlook. The Grandview is known as the Horseshoe Bend of the east! The view is stunning, but I don’t think it compares to Horseshoe Bend!!! We had planned on making the Grandview Rim Trail out to Turkey Spur Rock hike, but Shayla forgot her hiking shoes, and honestly, the view from the lookout was about as good as the walk was going to provide anyway. This visitor center is the least visited one in the park, and that 3-mile out-and-back hike would have been peaceful and free of crowds! We were sad to have missed it, but hiking shoes are probably good when hiking.
We decided to head back to our campground and explore the state park for a little bit! We walked around the grist mill and got to see the beautiful waterfalls. It was a perfect day to explore and take in nature right in the backyard of the campground!
That afternoon we had a huge surprise planned for the girls. A while back, I saw that someone did the Bridge walk over the gorge (on a catwalk underneath the New River Gorge Bridge), and from that post, I was obsessed. I knew we were going to this park, and that was on my bucket list for sure! The New River Gorge Bridge Walk offers guided tours on the catwalk 25 feet beneath the Bridge. The tour is about 2-3 hours long along the catwalk, only 24 inches wide!! As harrowing as it is to be up there, you are attached to a safety harness, and the steel deck you walk on does help calm the fears. (Well, the concern that Jerome had).
We walked the entire 3,030 feet length of the Bridge, 850 feet above the gorge, and took it all in. It was a fantastic experience, and I highly recommend it if you visit the park! A steep fee is paid to the company that runs the tours, but it is in conjunction with the NPS, and we think it is worth it.
Even though we only had two days, we could see and do a lot! If you have more time, there is plenty more to do and see. Several people told us that it was a Whitewater rafting mecca and a world-class rock climbing destination.
Have you been to this park yet?