This page is under construction to be filled with information to help you have an adventurous experience bird and nature watching on your own in the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve!
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Since 2002, our annual Festival takes place during spring bird migration, in and around the picturesque mountains and valleys of the New River Gorge National River in West Virginia. The same area was named one of the "Top 13 Landscapes of 2013" by Smithsonian's Aerial America. On the evening of December 21, 2020, the New River Gorge National River in Fayette and Raleigh counties was officially designated the New River National Park & Preserve, becoming the 63rd National Park and the 20th National Preserve in the United States.
Our beloved deciduous forests provide stopover habitat for migrating birds that Cornell Lab of Ornithology identified as crucial for the continued survival of species such as Golden-winged Warbler, Blue-winged Warbler, Swainson's Warbler, and the Scarlet Tanager. And, it's among the very best places to see Kentucky Warblers, Cerulean Warblers, and Swainson’s Warblers.
It's been called the Grand Canyon of the East, and the Costa Rica of the North. We call it home.
Rachel Davis, Geoff Heeter, Keith Richardson, and Paul Shaw are coordinators of the Festival and outdoor environmental education Nature Center events as a team of hosts, guides, naturalists, and volunteers. We each operate our own small businesses, are otherwise employed, and we enjoy spending time observing the birds, wildlife, and plants with whom we share our wild and wonderful home in almost heaven WV. We love to share it with bird watchers from everywhere during Festival week and we're happy to offer this advice to birding on your own in the National Park.
Read "Our Newest National Park - and West Virginia's First - Is Fantastic for Birding" by Joe Trezza for Audobon Magazine, published February 2021.
This page is under construction, to help you have adventurous self-guided bird and nature watching experiences in the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, and opportunities to learn about the rich geographical and cultural histories of WV Appalachia.
Please be patient and check back for updates.
Links open the New River Gorge National Park site pages in new windows. Contact the Park if you have questions.
National Park & Preserve Visitor Centers
Canyon Rim Visitor Center is located on US Rt 19, north of Fayetteville, at the north end of the New River Gorge Bridge: 162 Visitor Center Road, Lansing, WV 25862.
Thurmond Depot, Grandview Visitor Center, and Sandstone Visitor Center are all bird watching locations.
A Few of Our Favorite Bird Watching Scenic Drives, Destinations, and Trails in the New River Gorge National Park
♦ Plan your routes ahead of time; paper maps are important because gps systems are not all equal and some will lead you astray.
♦ AT&T seems to have the best coverage in the area, however it is spotty and difficult to find a signal when exploring mountains and valleys.
♦ Yeager Airport (CRW) in Charleston, WV is approximately 61 mi (<1.25 hrs) from Canyon Rim Visitors Center at the New River Gorge National Park; 63 miles (~1.25 hours) from Festival headquarters at Opossum Creek Retreat.
♦ Raleigh County Memorial Airport (BKW) in Beckley, WV is approximately 30 mi (39 min) from Canyon Rim Visitors Center at the New River Gorge National Park; 38 miles (44 minutes) from Festival headquarters at Opossum Creek Retreat headquarters.
♦ Car rentals are available at both airports, Beckley and Summersville; make arrangements in advance as they are not always open.
♦ Train travel on Amtrak's Cardinal Route to the Thurmond Depot (THN), approximately 18 mi (31 min) from Canyon Rim Visitors Center at the New River Gorge National Park; 21 miles (34 minutes) from Festival headquarters at Opossum Creek Retreat.
♦ Shuttle/Driving service may be available with prior arrangements through Hills to Hills Tours & Shuttle, Uber or Lyft.
♦ We recommend our Lodging Partners. For other options in the area, go to New River Gorge Visitors Bureau list or AirBnB.
♦ Local dining options are plentiful: New River Gorge Visitors Bureau list of restaurants. Check your Door Dash app for availability.
♦ Shopping local and souvenirs: New River Gorge Visitors Bureau shopping guide.
♦ Local outdoor gear shops: ACE Adventure Gear and Water Stone Outdoors, as well as a nearby WalMart.