The Ultimate New River Gorge Spring Bucket List 

The end of every season brings new beginnings with new experiences on the horizon. Since brighter days and warmer temperatures are ahead this spring, hit the ground running in America’s newest national park – the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve – with the help of our New River Gorge Spring Bucket List! 

Experience a Unique Rafting Adventure 

It wouldn’t be a New River Gorge bucket list without mentioning whitewater rafting! Every spring, the New River gets a free adventurous upgrade from nature, known as high waters. These seasonal water levels give the river a completely different disposition than what rafters usually experience in the summer months. 

The New River is sectioned into two parts: the Upper and Lower. If you are looking for a relaxing introduction to rafting or a fun day drifting down the river with your family, then the mild Upper New is for you! With rapids ranging from Class I-III, it’s the perfect trip for floating and swimming. The Upper New is suitable for ages 6 and up, making it great for families with children. For those looking for more of a rush, discover in-your-face excitement (and lots of paddling!) on the Lower New. The fast-moving water on the Lower section includes rapids ranging from Class II-IV+. Although the Lower is more intense than the Upper New, beginners are still welcome! The Lower New is suitable for rafters ages 12 and up. Sound like fun? Cross “Whitewater Rafting in America’s Newest National Park” off your bucket list this year! Book a trip with Adventures on the Gorge (WV Living’s Best of West Virginia 2021 – Best Adventure Outfitter Winner) or browse a list of our other reputable outfitters

Head Out on a Waterfall Tour

As the winter snow melts and the spring rain begins, this is the perfect time to check out our local waterfalls! The New River Gorge is home to many mesmerizing cascades, either hidden away in the woods or streaming down just off the side of our winding mountain roads. 

Make a pit stop on the scenic Midland Trail (Route 60) for a closer look at one of the highest waterfalls in West Virginia, Cathedral Falls. Rushing more than 60 feet over a sandstone cliff, Cathedral Falls is a great spot to spend a relaxing day listening to the sounds of nature and enjoying the spectacular spring views. Located just down the road is Kanawha Falls. This 15-foot fall spans the width of the Kanawha River. Many people enjoy a better view of the falls by paddleboarding or canoeing from the boat launch downstream to the coves hidden behind the falls. 

Hike along the Hawk’s Nest Rail Trail to uncover the majestic Mill Creek Falls. Located in Ansted, Mill Creek is a New River tributary that stretches over two miles. Lastly, visit the historic town of Thurmond for a look at the beautiful Dunloup Creek Falls. The wide, 20-foot-tall cascade is a strong, heavy flow of water.  

Discover West Virginia Wildflowers
The New River Gorge is known for its scenic hikes, and with each season of the year, nature offers something new for your hiking experience. The heavily forested New River Gorge is home to a wide range of plants, and spring reveals the gleaming floral diversity of the region. Take to the trails and discover petals like Dutchman’s breeches, flame azalea, fairy bells, catawba rhododendrons and more! 

To learn more about the flora and fauna of the Gorge, attend the 2022 Spring Nature Fling. This National Park Service festival includes fun activities like guided hikes, art demonstrations and botany exhibits. 

Savor the Best Flavors 

Get a taste of the Best of West Virginia while in the New River Gorge this spring! Grab dinner at Pies & Pints (WV Living’s Best of West Virginia 2021 – Best Pizza). Now celebrated across the East Coast, Pies & Pints got its start right here in the New River Gorge! Whether you are looking for a tasty take on a familiar favorite or a unique blend of flavors, you’ll find it on a pizza at Pies & Pints. And don’t forget about dessert! Visiting the Gorge is almost as sweet as a treat from The Frozen Barn (WV Living’s Best of West Virginia 2021 – Best Ice Cream Shop). From classic scoops to ice cream nachos, The Frozen Barn has a delicious variety of options. Can’t decide on a flavor? Try the Barn Sampler, a sample size of five flavors. 

Spend an Evening by the Campfire

Enjoy the pleasant weather and sleep under the stars at a scenic campsite in the New River Gorge. From full RV hookups with great amenities to primitive camping areas with wonderful views, there is a site for every traveler. Plus, many of our local campgrounds are located close to all your favorite adventure activities! For a unique camping experience, book a Tentrr campsite at Hawks Nest State Park! These sites provide comfortable camping and come equipped with a pre-set canvas tent on a wooden deck platform. If you prefer to stay indoors but still want to be surrounded by nature, sleep in the sky in a wooded treehouse cabin! Experience a one-of-a-kind evening at the Holly Rock Tree House at Country Roads Cabins (WV Living’s Best of West Virginia 2021 – Best Vacation Rental). 

Make the most out of your moments in America’s newest national park and cross off all of these spring activities. Request a copy of our travel guide to get started planning your next getaway.