New River Gorge

New River Gorge

New River Gorge Region

New River Gorge Bridge

View of the New River Gorge Bridge

The New River Gorge and the valley of the lower New River serve as the dual focus for this highland of farm, forest, and town. The region is one of the chief outdoor-recreation destinations in West Virginia and home to several of the nation’s largest outdoor-adventure resorts. Thousands of acres of forest are protected by the New River Gorge National River, the Bechtel Summit National Scouting Reserve, and many other parks and preserves.

The term “New River Gorge Region” was only applied in the last decades of the 20th century after the New River Gorge, in Fayette County, was recognized as a cultural and economic resource. Until then, and before construction of the famed New River Gorge Bridge, the area was defined as part of southern West Virginia. Concurrent with the construction of the bridge, the National Park Service established and began to develop the New River Gorge National River, which included part of the gorge, in its north extent, and the narrow valley of the river to the south. The national river designation further popularized the gorge and extended its reach conceptually (and somewhat erroneously) far to the south along the valley.  As a result, the region expanded to include the highland regions around the New River far to the south; thereby including much of Fayette County as well as Raleigh County and part of Summers County. It also came to include Nicholas County, located north of the gorge, which shares an area of similar terrain (including gorge and tableland) and national parkland around the Gauley River National Recreation Area.

The information on this page is used by permission of David Sibray and West Virginia Explorer.  For more information, please visit