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RV Camping At America’s New National Park

Published on January 29th, 2021 by Natalie Henley

national park
Rafting at New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

RV Camping At America’s New National Park

National Park Passport holders have a new stamp to add to their collection. West Virginia’s New River Gorge National River, located in the Appalachian Mountains in the southern part of the state, has officially become a U.S. national park, thanks to the December 2020 COVID-19 stimulus package.

Now referred to as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, the destination has been a long time outdoor activities hub for hiking, fishing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, biking, and RV camping.

“Being a national park is a gold stamp of approval and excellence,” U.S. Senator Shelley Capito said in a press conference. 

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WOWK-TV, virtual channel 13, a CBS-affiliated television station, recently reported on the 63rd national park in the clip below.

What can visitors do at the park?


Whitewater rafting and climbing are the two most sought-after outdoor sports at the park. One of the world’s oldest rivers in the world, the New River Gorge is a paradise for rafters with its 53 miles of free-flowing whitewater. One section features Class IV and V rapids. With over 1,500 routes, rock climbers can scale sandstone trails 30 to 120 feet high with difficulty levels ranging from 5.10 to 5.12. 

In addition to extreme sports, the New River Gorge has a 12.8-mile system of mountain bike trails built by the Boy Scouts. There are over 100 miles of hiking trails and about 65,000 acres designated for backcountry hunting. This area is home to wildlife like white-tailed deer, river otters, and bald eagles. Avid fishermen might snag smallmouth and rock bass or walleye and trout, depending on the time of year.

Noteworthy landmark

The Appalachian Mountains’ largest gorge is also home to the nation’s longest arch bridge. The New River Gorge Bridge is 3,000 feet long and towers almost 900 feet above the river. It is recorded as the largest steel span in the Western hemisphere and is the third highest bridge in the country. Every third Saturday in October, BASE jumpers leap from the bridge as part of an annual festival. This is the only place in the park system that allows this activity.

The New River Gorge Bridge
The New River Gorge Bridge

Historical towns

The New River Gorge and neighboring towns have a rich history with Native American, pioneer, railroad, and coal-mining communities. Visitors can glimpse this cross-cultural tapestry by touring rural farming, railroad, and mining towns and/or going on scenic drives that showcase both the natural beauty and historical references of West Virginia’s upbringing.

Historical Thurmond, West Virginia
Historical Thurmond, West Virginia

How does the “national park” status affect New River Gorge?

A handful of changes will come to fruition with the new “National Park” title. Environmental protection measures like river cleanup and mountain-face preservation will be enacted. Additional federal funding could also mean more educational outreach opportunities.

The new title should also bring more tourism dollars to the state. Senator Capito expects to see a 20% increase in visitors’ number to the new park after its upgrade is made official.

“The New River Gorge is such an important part of West Virginia and…will shine a brighter light on West Virginia and all that it has to offer, and provide another catalyst for our tourism industry and local businesses,” said Senator Capito.

Does the park offer RV camping?

All camping within the park is primitive, and most RV and tent camping is located near the river. Currently, according to the National Park Service website, all campgrounds are closed. However, campgrounds at Glade Creek, Grandview Sandbar, and Stone Cliff are scheduled to open on August 8, 2021. 

Developed campgrounds are available in nearby towns and can be found using online trip planning resources like RV LIFE Trip Wizard and RV LIFE Campgrounds.

See also: Visit National Parks For Free On These Days In 2021

About the Author:

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8 thoughts on “RV Camping At America’s New National Park”

  1. My family and I have spent our free time in the beautiful state of West by God, smile when you say it, Virginia. It’s our “go to place”. Well worth the trip. And the history is fastinating ,

  2. I love. Amping in west Virginia I live in va and have toured wv from north to south east and west.looking forward to the camping in the gorge. I have visited the bridge 6 the past .

  3. Thank you! I wish I could camp in our newest National Psrk, but I’m no longer physically able to go camping. At 84 years old, I live in an Assisted Living Facility, still vicariously enjoying the travels of my children and grandchildren!

    My late husband and I spent two summers out West with our campers touring the National Parks with our three children. We collected many wonderful memories and experiences during the mid 60’s.
    The evening Campfire Programs led by Rangers were particularly interesting, educational, and entertaining! Our daughters and I came away from those nights, singing the new songs in rounds, entertaining all of us for miles. Those were fabulous trips with beautiful memories! God Bless all who work in our National Parks!

  4. I’m glad to see this beautiful area has been designated a new National Park! Congratulations are in order for the New River Gorge!

    I suggest y’all read a book by NPR’s Noah ADAMS for detailed information about THE NEW RIVER GORGE. He was born and raised in Kentucky, and has a personal interest in this beautiful area.
    Thank you!

  5. This has been a stimulating and interesting read. Thank you. I would love to go to West Virginia on an RV TRIP. WOW!!! Thank you Natalie for all you put into this. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you!! If you and your husband could do this maybe we can too. It is just a little adventurous for us because I broke my left femur four years ago. My dr said five years of recovery. And I probably would not walk again. Well I am walking with my walker. He is proud of me. He told me I have a great attitude.!!! He said he should have paid attention four years ago. I told him hen I would walk again because I have a lot to do with grandchildren. And he says I proved him wrong about which he is very happy. He is a good surgeon and he is famous here in California. Well I like him, anyway.

  6. To me, this valley is the most beautiful place I have been. I have done the rafting several times. I think this area is why they say West Virginia is “Wild and Wonderful”. I am looking forward to being able to camp there.


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