In the South Appalachians flows the New River, foaming its way northwards through gorges and canyons. Although the river itself is ancient, it is quite new to what we often call civilization. The river remained inaccessible until 1873, when West Virginia was connected to the rest of the country by railroad.

In 1977 a bridge was set up across the New River Gorge to become the longest steel span bridge in the world. The next year, following local initiative, parts of the New River were found worthy of preservation. In 1978 the New River Gorge National River was established. 53 miles of the river are protected in this manner. The banks are included as well, making the park cover over 70,000 acres between Hinton and Fayetteville.

At the time of establishment, most of the land was privately owned and thus not open to the public. Now two thirds of the land is owned by the park and open to the over one million yearly visitors. There are five visitor centres and several areas for camping.

What to do in and around a river

Whitewater rafting comes naturally to mind. The upper part of the river within the park is generally easy, with long pools and rapids up to class III. The Lower Gorge has several bigger falls with difficulties as high as class V, complete with big boulders.

Hiking through the forest, or climbing up and down hills is a distinct possibility for the curious visitor. If you need help from friends with four legs, treks are arranged with horses or llamas. Two-legged rangers also do guided tours, and two-wheeled bicycles are allowed on some trails.

Look. There exist over 1,300 species of plants in the reserve and probably the same amount of animals, at least if you include both big, small and tourists in your count.

Hunting as well as fishing is allowed in this park, unlike many other national parks. This was specifically allowed in the act that created the park. Several species of bass and trout are common here.

Made especially for the U.S. National Parks and Monuments quest.

czeano tells me noders canoed here during Revenge of Nature Trail to Hell - uh, some gathering.

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