This is the audio only described version of the park’s official print brochure. The brochure has two sides and contains color photos, illustrations, text and a map. Side one includes general information about the New River Gorge National River as well as two other national park units located nearby, the Bluestone National Scenic River and Gauley River National Recreation Area. There is also information about boating, fishing, hiking, and climbing. Side two includes information about the park’s four visitor centers, Canyon Rim, Sandstone, Thurmond, and Grandview. There is also information about Sandstone Falls, trails, river recreation, state parks in the area, accessibility, and safety. Most of this side of the brochure is the map of New River Gorge National River, Gauley River National Recreation Area, and Bluestone National Scenic River.
Photo caption: Sunrise over New River at Diamond Point.
Photo description: An orange sun sets behind blue grey clouds over a plateau as a river cuts into a steep, yellow and green, tree covered, “V” shaped gorge. White rapids hint at the furious nature of the river below. Railroad tracks can be seen cutting through the trees along both sides of the river. Red and grey rock cliffs overlook the gorge in the foreground and extend along the edge of the plateau.
Text: For most of its course, and much of its recent history, the New River has served the human needs of the southern Appalachian region. Within the 70,000 acres of New River Gorge National River, it creates a world of its own, 53 miles of whitewater and wild beauty.
Photo credit: National Park Service, Gary Hartley
Text: The river is not new. It is one of the oldest rivers in the world, older than the Appalachian Mountains themselves. Here at the gorge, the river cuts through the Appalachian Plateau. Some exposed rocks are as old as 330 million years.
Human history, wild habitat, and spectacular natural beauty converge in this protected stretch of the New River and its extended family, the Bluestone and Gauley rivers. Famous for sport fishing and whitewater rafting, the rivers and their surrounding landscape offer hidden delights for those who venture off the beaten path such as coal mines that fueled the age of steam, rails and roads that opened this remote country to industry, trails that lead you to a blanket of spring wildflowers or a limitless horizon.
Illustration description: An illustration next to the text depicts the river valley and Appalachian Plateau. It is an artistic depiction of the river cutting through tilted rock layers. From the bottom of the diagram, the river begins in a wide valley with gradual slopes on either side. It flows towards a deep, narrow V shaped gorge. Different colors depict the layers of rock underneath.
Illustration caption: National Park Service
Description: Text about the New, Gauley and Bluestone rivers follows. Under a separate heading are descriptions of the photo highlights, including flora, fauna and historic buildings.
New River Gorge National River. For centuries this part of the New was inaccessible to most people. In 1873 the railroad opened up this isolated part of West Virginia, making it possible to ship coal to the outside world. Mining boomed, and towns like Thurmond sprang up overnight near the coalfields and along the railroad.
In 1978 Congress established New River Gorge National River to preserve this free-flowing waterway. Every year, millions of visitors come here for recreation and natural scenery. Within the park the New’s elevation drops 750 feet in 50 miles, creating one of the nation’s premier whitewater stretches.
Less known, but no less important, is the amazing diversity of plants and animals, including some 1,400 plant species. Endangered species like the Virginia big eared and Indiana bats live in forests and even old buildings. In a world of ever-dwindling natural habitat, migrating neotropical birds depend on this protected place for breeding.
Gauley River National Recreation Area, established in 1988, includes 25 miles of the Gauley River and 5 miles of the Meadow River. The Gauley is ranked among the best whitewater rivers in the world by expert boaters. Dropping more than 668 feet through rugged terrain, the river’s complex stretch of whitewater has over 100 rapids with a steep gradient, technical runs, high volume of water, and huge waves. The Gauley offers whitewater boating, fishing, camping, hunting, and picnicking. Immediately adjacent to the recreation area is Summersville Dam, which regulates the flow of the Gauley River, the source of its outstanding fall whitewater season.
Bluestone National Scenic River. The Bluestone River, named for the deep blue limestone riverbed of its upper reaches, has carved a gorge 1,000 feet deep near where it meets the New River. Hundreds of species thrive in several diverse Appalachian habitats. The Bluestone Turnpike, a riverbank road for those who farmed and timbered the area, is now a trail used by hikers, bikers, and horseback riders to reach this remote, undeveloped park. The national scenic river was established in 1988.
Description: Eight photos on side one of the brochure are described in this section.
Description: The text of four activities follows. Under its own heading, are descriptions of associated photos and their captions.
Description: Four photos depicting activities and outdoor areas are described.
Text: Spanning the New River near Fayetteville is the New River Gorge Bridge. At 876 feet, it is the third-highest in the country.
Photo description: A long, rust-colored, steel, single arch bridge spans a wide, deep gorge, connecting the flat topped ridges on either side. Several barely discernible trucks, level with the ridgetops in the distance are driving along the horizon, emphasizing the enormous size and height of the bridge. A wide, “S” shaped river with rapids flows below the bridge. At the bottom of the gorge, a second, small bridge can be seen in the distance. Railroad tracks run alongside both sides of the river. The gorge is covered in dense green forest speckled with early autumn shades of red, orange, and yellow. Above, pink sunlight is reflected in blue grey clouds against a light blue sky. A single whitish-grey rock cliff peaks out of the forest on the side of the gorge.
Photo credit: National Park Service, Gary Hartley
Description: At the top of side two of the brochure is more information about things to do within and outside of the park. Please also see the information under the “Map” heading to get a sense of the area.
Map description: Most of side two of the brochure is a map of New River Gorge National River. It shows the entire park including paved and unpaved roads, trails, ranger stations, picnic areas, parking, campgrounds, overlooks, and boat launches. The map is oriented with North at the top and includes New River Gorge National River, Gauley River National Recreation Area, and Bluestone National Scenic River.
New River Gorge National River is an elongated area approximately 70,000 acres and bordered by state parks and private land areas. The boundaries of the park follow the course of the New River for 53 miles from south to north. The town of Hinton is the southern gateway to the park. Traveling north are Akers, Brooks Falls and Tug Creek, which have public access to the river, then two overlooks and then Sandstone Falls where there is picnicking and public access to the river. The Sandstone Visitor Center is close by. The town of Beckley is about 20 miles due west. Also north of Sandstone Falls is Meadow Creek, where there is public access to the river.
Continuing is a northwesterly direction and following the shape of the river, are a number of campgrounds, primitive camping, picnicking and public access points to the river. The seasonal visitor centers at Grandview and Thurmond are located in this center section of the map and the park. Also in this area are the Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, (Boy Scouts of America), and the Babcock State Park. This state park has lodging, picnicking and campground options.
The river begins to travel in a more north-south direction in this center portion of the park. Still heading north and in the northern portion of the park are the Kaymoor and Nuttalburg mine sites and the close by town of Fayetteville. North of these sites is the Canyon Rim Visitor Center where there is an overlook and picnicking. The New River Gorge Bridge is close by.
Gauley River National Recreation Area is north of the park and at the top of the map. It stretches from east to west and follows 25 miles of the Gauley River. River rapids are identified all along the New and Gauley rivers.
South of park and the town of Hinton is Bluestone National Scenic River, which follows the Bluestone River northeasterly for ten and a half miles. Also in the area are Bluestone State Park and Pipestem Resort State Park, both of which have lodging, picnicking, public access to the river and campgrounds.
Major highways bisecting the park include I-64 from east to west and Route 19 from north to south.
Map credit: National Park Service
We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all. For more information, ask a ranger, call us, or visit the park website.
Note: See the heading "Exploring New River Gorge," where Sandstone Falls is noted as a physically accessible boardwalk experience.