top of page

Exploring the Wonders of New River Gorge National Park in Winter: A Complete Guide

Dreaming of that perfect winter getaway: snow-capped mountains, frozen waterfalls, and once in a lifetime experiences? Then consider a trip to New River Gorge National Park! In this blog post, I'll talk about my recent winter trip to New River Gorge and everything you need to know before visiting!


This post is sponsored by the West Virginia Tourism Board, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.


Where is New River Gorge National Park?

New River Gorge National Park is nestled in the mountains of West Virginia just outside the town of Fayetteville. Home to more than 70,000 acres of public lands, this park has been a hallowed spot for locals for centuries. Easily accessible by Route 19 and I-64, the New River Gorge is one of West Virginia’s most photographed areas. The iconic steel arch bridge was once the longest in the world and welcomes travelers to this cherished region. Widely known as the second oldest river in the world, the New River cuts through extensive geological formations that make way for diverse flora and fauna. Bald eagles and peregrine falcons call this park home, and you’ll often spot a few along your travels. Hiking trails here take you to spectacular overlooks and through remnants of old coal mining towns. You can read more about the park on the West Virginia Tourism website here


 

Best Time to Visit

New River Gorge has 4 different seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall and each season has its unique activities and charm. I visited during winter and it was so beautiful; truly a winter wonderland with frozen waterfalls, skiing, and snow-capped mountains. Spring brings warmer weather and beautiful flowers around the area. The summer has the most crowds due to the beautiful weather and amazing rafting. But, fall may be one (if not the) best time to visit with the stunning fall foliage, Bridge Day festival, fishing, and excellent time to rock climb. 

photos 1-3 from wvtourism.com

 

How to Get There & Around the Area

To get here from my home base, Washington DC, I drove 4.5 hours to Fayetteville. I strongly recommend renting a car to get around the national park in order to see as much as possible. With a car, you can drive to various destinations within and around the park. New River Gorge is easily reached from interstates 64, 77, and 79, and from U.S. Route 60 (Midland Trail Scenic Highway). By car, it is approximately 30 minutes north of Beckley, 70 minutes south of Interstate 79, and 70 minutes east of Charleston. 


If you live somewhere outside of driving distance, you can fly into the closest airport which is West Virginia International Yeager Airport located in the capital city, Charleston. Some flights are also available at nearby Raleigh County Memorial Airport in Beaver. If flying into either of these airports, a rental car is necessary to get to the park. 

The last option to reach the park is via Amtrak. The closest stations are Thurmond and Prince, and from here you should take a taxi to the New River Gorge area. The New River Transit Authority has developed the New River Gorge shuttle— an easy way to traverse the area without the hassle of parking. Read more on how to get to and around the park here

 

Where to Stay

Wondering what the best area to stay in is? If you want to explore the New River Gorge area, I recommend staying in the town of Fayetteville. Fayetteville is a quaint, small town located just 5-10 minutes outside of the national park. They have excellent shopping and dining options and many boutique hotels to choose from. 


During my trip, I enjoyed a stay at the beautiful bed and breakfast, the Historic Morris Harvey House Bed and Breakfast. The Historic Morris Harvey House was built by R. H. Dickinson and completed in 1902 for Morris and Rosa Harvey. This 3-story, 14-room Queen Anne-style house has five guest areas, seven fireplaces and two antique bathrooms with original clawfoot tubs. We stayed in their Loft Deluxe Suite, located on the third floor and is the largest suite of the hotel. The Loft holds 2 bedrooms, a sitting area and a small dining table and chairs. Each room features a queen bed, plus an additional, second full size bed in the second bedroom. It’s so beautiful, and I love how they have kept the theme and decor true to what it would have looked like in the early 1900’s. The breakfast they served in the mornings were light, healthy, and so delicious. Each morning was something new, and they were very accommodating to my vegetarian dietary restriction.  

 

Best Restaurants

During my trip I went to many different restaurants, and seriously every single one was so delicious! I was so pleasantly surprised by the food in the area!

Breakfast

For breakfast, there’s many different options. If you stay at the Morris Harvey House you will get a delicious breakfast for free. I ate at the B&B both mornings I stayed there and each morning they had something different and so fresh. They also accommodated my vegetarian restriction! A few great coffee shops in Fayetteville include: Range Finder Coffee, and Cathedral Cafe.

Lunch

I ate at 2 amazing restaurants for lunch during my time; Pies and Pints, and Wood Iron Eatery. Pies and Pints is located just outside of downtown Fayetteville and is a West Virginia staple. It’s a pizzeria chain offering an array of craft beers, plus specialty pizzas, salads & sandwiches. I got pizza, a spinach salad, and Nate got some wings. Their speciality is the wings, and if you enjoy those you definitely have to get those! Another great option is Wood Iron Eatery which serves breakfast, lunch, baked goods, full espresso bar, and freshly brewed coffee. This delicious restaurant is located in one of the most historic buildings in town and is definitely a must visit for either breakfast or lunch!

Dinner

Fayetteville has endless amazing restaurants to choose from for dinner. Two places I went during my time were Wanderlust Creativefoods and the Secret Sandwich Society. Each are quite different - Wanderlust Creativefoods’ mission is to serve high quality food at an affordable cost and that they do! During my time eating here, I overheard 2 different people giving compliments to the chef and it seemed like there were many ‘regular’ customers. One thing to note is there weren’t many vegetarian dishes, so I had limited options. But the food they do have is very innovative and we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. For a typical American food spot, be sure to check out the Secret Sandwich Society. This is a rustic-style tavern featuring creative sandwiches, plus soup, salad, beer, cider & live music. Their burgers are to die for - and they also had a Beyond Meat burger (vegetarian) which was so delicious! Be sure to get a side of their parmesan truffle fries! 

 

Best Hikes

A 3.2 mile loop trail near Lansing, WV. It is generally considered to be an easy route and takes an average of 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete. During wintertime, it turns into a snowy paradise, as you can see from the pictures below! The trail passes through rich forest, crosses Fern Creek, and zig-zags along the cliff edge with many beautiful viewpoints along the way. The Diamond Point Overlook is a good turn-around spot which puts you at 2 miles out and back. 

Ansted Rail Trail 

Located within Hawks Nest State Park, this is a great place to see some stunning waterfalls! (And if you visit during wintertime, they will be beautifully frozen and snow covered) This trail is about 1.8 miles roundtrip and runs along the south side of Mill Creek. The gravel and dirt surface of the path makes it suitable for mountain biking and walking. 

Back in New River Gorge, this easy 3.0 mile out and back trail takes about 1 hour and 13 minutes to complete. According to AllTrails, This trail ends at Long Point view, where you can see beautiful views of the gorge, the river, and the infamous New Gorge River Bridge. Mountain bikes are allowed on most but not the last 0.2 miles to the overlook. The trail is mostly shaded and travels through a lush forest with many other trail connections.

photo from the US National Park Service

The Canyon Rim Boardwalk is a short trail near the Canyon Rim Visitor Center that provides stunning views of the New River Gorge bridge and surrounding area. This was honestly my favorite view I saw in the park and it’s only a 0.5 mile trail! You can simply park in the parking lot at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and walk to the trial.

NOTE: There are 150 steps to the vantage point.

 

Best Activities

The Bridge Walks takes you up close and personal to the New River Gorge bridge. Unfortunately, it got canceled on the day I was supposed to do it due to bad weather, but I strongly recommend checking it out while you are at the park! The Bridge Walk offers guided tours of the New River Gorge Bridge from the catwalk 25’ beneath the Bridge. The tours are 2-3 hours in length. After checking in, Bridge Walk guests are shuttled to the Canyon Rim Visitor’s Center on the north side of the Bridge. A short path leads to the Bridge where guests enter the catwalk in the midst of the massive iron structure. NOTE: Pricing starts at $60/person. 

photos from bridewalk.com

The TreeTops Canopy Tour gives you a taste of multiple adventures in two to three hours. After checking in with your guides, you’ll get outfitted with a harness, gloves, and helmet. A short walk will lead you to the entrance to our course, where you trip leader will conduct “Ground School” with a safety speech and demonstration of proper zip-lining technique. The tour starts on a ridge top, which gradually descends through a forest of oak, maple, and birch trees before settling at a beautiful stand of hemlock trees along Mill Creek. You’ll fly through the hemlocks on 10 different zip-lines, make your way over five swinging sky bridges, admire Mother Nature during a couple of short hikes on the forest floor, and conclude the tour with a free-hanging, 35-foot rappel! You’ll even zip-line over Mill Creek, where you can admire this free flowing stream from above. 

During the weekend I went, this tour unfortunately got canceled for me as well due to poor weather and unsafe conditions, but it looks like so much fun and something I definitely recommend doing if you love adventure! 

During my trip, I did an escape room for the first time and I think it got me hooked on them! They are seriously so fun! Escape-A-Torium is located in downtown Fayetteville, and is a great indoor activity to do if you want to do something a little different or are experiencing some bad weather and want to warm up! What’s unique about this escape room, is each of their rooms are West Virginia themed. For example, the one I did was set at the Greenbrier Resort! It was sooo much fun, I highly recommend it as a fun family, friends, or couple activity. 

Looking for fun winter activities? Then Winterplace is where you should go. About 45 minutes outside of Fayetteville and New River Gorge, Winterplace Ski Resort has skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. They have some really great hills; ranging from green to black diamond level slopes there is something for both beginners and experts! I hadn’t been skiing for years, and getting out there reminded me why I loved it so much, I definitely will be back! But if you aren’t into skiing or snowboarding, they also have snow tubing which is also so much fun! You can buy tickets ahead of time on their website, or on the spot. 

PRO TIP: After your winter sports, drive 15 minutes down the road for a meal you won’t forget. Just a quick drive from Winterplace, the Dish Cafe is an amazing, innovative, local restaurant that’s passionate about creating food that’s good for you! All of their food is organic, made with no preservatives, and sourced locally. *I highly recommend trying their mac n cheese!

 

In Conclusion...

New River Gorge National Park is the newest National Park in the United States, and is located just a short drive away from major US cities such as Charleston, WV, Washington, DC, Richmond, VA, and others. There are a wide range of things to do, so many stunning hikes, quaint hotels to stay at such as the Morris Harvey House, and delicious restaurants in the area! If you’re looking to visit New River Gorge and want even more help to plan the perfect trip, be sure to check out https://wvtourism.com/!

3 opmerkingen


Gast
09 feb.

using this guide on my upcoming trip!! thank youuuu!

Like

Gast
09 feb.


Like

Gast
09 feb.

I've been wanting to visit New River Gorge, using this guide to get my trip started! Thank you!!

Like
bottom of page