New River Gorge National Park is located in Fayetteville, West Virginia and is one of the most popular destinations in the entire state. Upon entering the town of Fayetteville, you will see a sign that reads “Coolest Small Town”…and honestly, they’re not wrong. If you’re looking for the perfect West Virginia weekend getaway, New River Gorge in Fayetteville should be at the top of your list.
Fayetteville is home to the New River Gorge Bridge, the longest steel span arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere and one of the most iconic symbols of West Virginia. With a staggering arch that rises 876 feet above the New River, this engineering marvel offers breathtaking views in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.
Built in 1977, the New River Gorge Bridge is not only a structural wonder but also the backdrop for a celebrated annual event known as ‘Bridge Day,’ which you will get to read about below! It is a huge tourist attraction and something we as West Virginians are extremely proud of.
wv Weekend Trip to new river gorge
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Where to Stay Near New River Gorge
The Barn Loft
During my most recent trip to the New River Gorge, I stayed at the most beautiful AirBNB, The Barn Loft. Located near downtown Fayetteville inside of a refurbished barn, it is the perfect place for a girls trip or a romantic weekend getaway.
Some things know about The Barn Loft:
- The Barn Loft is open in the late spring, summer, and early fall
- There is no heat or air conditioning. If you are going in the spring or fall, bring layers. If you are going in the summer, there is a fan that you can turn on. I went in October and found it to be the perfect temperature.
- If you are strongly opposed to insects, this may not be the place for you. It IS a barn, after all! I encountered a few daddy long legs as well as a grasshopper.
- There are rungs on the inside of the barn to climb up to get to the second level, which may impact those with mobility issues.
- The bathroom is inside of the main house, NOT inside of the barn.
Overall, I loved my stay, and would definitely stay again! The location is perfect, there’s a coffee maker and table setup inside, and the bed is SO COMFY. The host also has a drawer of toiletry items in case you forget something!
Other Hotels Near Fayetteville
If some people in your party don’t favor an overly whimsical stay, check out Fayetteville’s local website for a list of resorts, hotels, cabins, bed & breakfasts, and campgrounds.
When is the Best Time to Visit New River Gorge?
IMO, summer and fall are the best times to visit the Gorge. The summer is great because of all the outdoor activities that you will read about below, but I have to say there is NOTHING like West Virginia in the fall. Maybe I’m biased, but I think we have the prettiest fall foliage.
I have visited the New River Gorge in both the summer and the fall, so the photos you will see on this website are from both times of year. My most recent trip to New River Gorge was during the fall, and I have to admit that none of my photos really did the beauty of our state any justice. So, I guess you’ll have to go see it for yourself ;).
What to Pack When Going to New River Gorge
If you plan on doing a lot of hiking or outdoor activities around New River Gorge (and you should, because that’s what this area is known for!), here is a list of things to make sure you pack:
- Sturdy hiking boots or shoes
- Clothing you can layer (for example, a light jacket and pants)
- A backpack to carry essentials such as water, snacks, maps, and extra layers.
- A refillable water bottle or hydration reservoir to stay hydrated during your hike.
- Sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses
- First-aid kit with bandaids, gauze, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers
- A waterproof bag and/or clothing you can get wet, if you plan on doing white water rafting
Things to Do at New River Gorge
New River Gorge Bridge Walk
If you’re terrified of heights, jump to the next section. If you want to walk underneath one of the most notable symbols of West Virginia and a bridge that made history, keep reading!
New River Gorge National Park’s Bridge Walk lets you go on a guided tour underneath of the New River Gorge Bridge where you walk from one end of the bridge to the other.
There is a long, steel isle underneath of the bridge with guardrails on each side. You are also strapped into a harness. For being up 876 feet in the air, I felt pretty safe!
The views of West Virginia that you get from being up this high are incredible. The New River is underneath of you on both sides, along with the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains. Although it is beautiful year-round, I recommend doing this in the fall because fall in WV is like no other!
The tour takes about 2 hours to complete. Your guide will stop multiple times along the way and tell you historical facts and stories about the bridge. My tour guide was Dreama, and she was THE BEST.
IMO, the only thing that was nerve-wracking about this tour was that you could sometimes feel the bridge shake when you weren’t walking!
Check Out the Canyon Rim Visitor’s Center
The Canyon Rim Visitor Center in New River Gorge offers a wealth of information, educational exhibits, and stunning panoramic views of the gorge. You can see the New River Gorge Bridge from up-close here, although you are at somewhat of a side-angle.
The path to see the bridge from here is called the Canyon Rim Boardwalk. There are two overlooks to get a view of the bridge; the view from first spot you come to is pictured below. From here, you can walk down some stairs to get an even closer look.
The visitor center is home to a range of exhibits that delve into the natural and cultural history of New River Gorge. You’ll find displays on the geology of the area, the diverse flora and fauna that call the gorge home, and the human history of the region, including its mining and industrial past. There is also a gift shop inside where you can buy souvenirs!
Outside of the building, there is a display with maps and detailed descriptions of some of the trails. I found this very helpful when I was trying to decide which trails I wanted to hike, because I could read about the views, how to get to the different trailheads, and what to expect while hiking.
Hike One of Fayetteville’s Most Popular Trails
Fayetteville and the New River Gorge area have a plethora of hiking trails. I am going to tell you about the two that I have hiked below.
Both of these trails have incredible views, and isn’t that why we go hiking? I mean, okay, the exercise…but THE VIEWS!!!
Long Point Trail – for Bridge Views
If you want a hike with an epic view of the New River Gorge Bridge, you want to hike Long Point Trail.
Long Point Trail is roughly 3 miles long and ends at an overlook where you get unparalleled views of the New River Gorge Bridge. It is a relatively easy hike until you get towards the end, and then there are some steep areas with roots, bushes, and trees that you have to maneuver around.
I should also point out that there are no markers or cairns along the way to guide you through the trail, but I did feel like it was easy to stay on the path!
Once you get close to the end, there is an overlook towards the right that gives you great views of the Appalachian Mountains. Keep going past this, and you will get to where you can see the bridge.
Getting to Long Point Trail
The Long Point Trailhead is relatively easy to find! It is located just off of Gatewood Road to your left. I found it by typing “Long Point Trailhead” into Google maps.
It’s important to note that this trail does NOT loop around. Once you reach the end, you have to turn around and come back the same way.
Endless Wall Trail/Diamond Point – for Gorge Views
Endless Wall Trail has incredible panoramic views of the New River Gorge but does NOT have good views of the bridge. The hike is relatively easy, and is roughly 3.2 miles long. It took me about an hour and a half to hike it, including time for photos.
Diamond Point is the most popular lookout spot located towards the middle of trail. Here, you will get the most epic views of The Gorge.
I should also point out that most of the lookout spots are towards the middle of the trail. When you start or end at either trailhead, you have to walk for a bit before you come to any scenic overlooks.
Similar to Long Point, Endless Wall doesn’t have any trail markers or cairns along the path, but I still found it easy to navigate because the trail is very well laid out. Normally I will use the AllTrails app to make sure I know where I’m going, but I didn’t have to for this hike!
Getting to Endless Wall Trail
Endless Wall Trail is located on Lansing-Edmond Road. There are two parking lots you can park in for Endless Wall:
- Fern Creek Trailhead is the first parking lot you will come to after turning down Lansing-Edmond Road. I would recommend parking in this one if you can.
- Nuttall Trailhead is another parking lot located 0.5 miles up the road from Fern Creek
The nice thing about Endless Wall Trail is that it’s essentially one big loop. You essentially start at one trailhead that I mentioned above and end at the other.
The reason I advise parking at Fern Creek is because once you end at Nuttall, it will be a downhill walk to your car. This way, you won’t have to walk uphill after hiking 3.2 miles (and yes, I learned this the hard way).
Go White Water Rafting
DISCLAIMER: I have never gone white water rafting at New River Gorge, but I know it’s a VERY popular activity. A lot of my friends and colleagues have gone, and they all had great things to say about their experience.
New River Gorge offers rafting experiences suitable for all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rafter, you’ll find a trip that suits your abilities.
The most popular rafting experience is Lower New River White Water Rafting. This area is great because you get to experience the intensity of the rapids while also paddling through some calmer areas that lets you relax, swim, check out wildlife, and more.
If you’re looking to book, Adventures on the Gorge provides a full-day white water rafting trip complete with lunch!
You will have a guide with you during your time on the New River. Your guide will be readily available throughout your trip to ensure your safety and make the experience unforgettable. They provide all necessary equipment, including helmets, life jackets, and rafts.
Explore the (Adorable) Downtown Area
Court Street in downtown Fayetteville is home to numerous boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and more. You will also find a lot of neat places along the side streets that run perpendicular to Court St.
There is a lot of street parking through here in addition to parking along the side streets. I really liked how I didn’t have to struggle to find a place to park!
Bridge Day at New River Gorge
Ask any native West Virginian, and they will tell you Bridge Day is essentially a national holiday here in West Virginia. Every year on the 3rd Saturday in October, thousands of people gather on the New River Gorge Bridge to celebrate the bridge’s unique history.
But it’s not just about history. We have also turned Bridge Day into an extreme sport. What makes Bridge Day truly special is the opportunity for extreme sports enthusiasts to leap off the bridge into the water 876 feel below!
Every year, B.A.S.E. jumpers (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) and rappellers descend from the bridge, creating a thrilling spectacle for onlookers. They don’t call us “wild and wonderful” for nothing ;).
- At present time, you must have made 50 prior parachute jumps, skydives and/or BASE jumps to participate.
BUT – please know that Bridge Day isn’t just about adrenaline rushes; it’s also a celebration of Appalachian culture! Visitors can enjoy local food, traditional music, and craft vendors selling handmade products.
Restaurants Near New River Gorge
Fayetteville has a plethora of adorable restaurants to choose from, but I will highlight the few places that I have been (and loved):
Secret Sandwich Society
Newly re-opened after a fire back in 2020, Secret Sandwich Society is very much a local favorite. I got their Truman sandwich with sweet potato fries and have zero regrets.
Freefolk Brewery and Taproom
The Freefolk Brewery is a cute, rustic brewery with outside seating and cornhole. Dogs are also welcome! My favorite thing to get here is their traditional gyro, and my favorite beer is a wheat beer called Berry the Hatchet. Freefolk also has a lot of gose beers and IPAs on tap.
Located in what used to be an old church, Cathedral Cafe is the perfect place to stop and carb load before a day of hiking. They have a variety of breakfast items that are served all day, along with a lunch menu available after 11am.
Range Finder Coffee
I stopped in here for a maple latte on my way home from Fayetteville last time and loved it. Their food menu consists mostly of baked goods, and they have some bench tables where you can sit and bring your laptop. Range Finder is located on the downtown strip and is very popular with the locals!