If you can't join us at our annual spring Festival event, you'll enjoy an adventurous self-guided experience in the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve with opportunities to learn about the rich geographical and cultural histories of WV Appalachia.

Links open the New River Gorge National Park site pages in new windows. Contact the Park if you have questions.

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.

Birding On Your Own 

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 nice bird watching locations. 

A Few Favorite Bird Watching Scenic Drives, Destinations and Trails in the New River Gorge National Park

Open a full list of Places To Go, a printable Fayetteville Area Hiking Trails Map with descriptions, and a map of the entire Park & Preserve.

New River Gorge Bridge:  Easy. Moderate to strenuous when climbing back up the boardwalk steps. Modern facilities available during Visitor Center open hours.
Take in the breadth and depth of the gorge that holds one of the oldest rivers in the world. A short hiking trail descends into the gorge on a wooden boardwalk with two observation decks; a fully accessible ramp provides access to the upper observation deck. A "hacking" program released Peregrine Falcons in the gorge with hope to re-colonize this and other portions of their historic range in central-Appalachia. In recent years, Peregrines have occasionally nested in the bridge structure.

Fayette Station: Drive and walk. Easy. Modern facilities available during Visitor Center open hours; facility located at river level.
Spectacular views and habitat changes, from the rim of the Gorge to river level then up to the rim on the other side!

Nuttallburg: Drive and walk. Easy to strenuous depending on the trail you choose. A vault toilet is located at the trailhead parking area.
Explore the ruins of one of New River Gorge's most prominent mining towns. Starting from the top of the New River Gorge, descend to near river level, taking in different habitats.

Grandview: Easy to strenuous depending on the trail you choose. Modern facilities available during Visitor Center open hours.
Featuring five hiking trails and really grand views.

Sandstone Falls: Drive and walk. Easy yo strenuous depending on the trail you choose. Modern facilities available during Visitor Center open hours.
A scenic riverside drive to the largest waterfall on the New River. Use caution when nature watching by the river.

Click here to open the Fayetteville Area Hiking Trails Map to find these great locations:

Burnwood Trail: Easy. Restroom located at trailhead.
The trail follows the edge of an open field, through the forest and rhododendron thickets, and returns to the field. 
To reach the trailhead, park at the Burnwood Day Use Area across U.S. Route 19 from Canyon Rim Visitor Center; the trailhead is located just past the restroom facility. 

Canyon Rim Boardwalk: Easy and Strenuous (lower overlook). Modern facilities available during Visitor Center open hours.
This boardwalk offers scenic views of the gorge and New River Gorge Bridge. An easy walk on a fully accessible ramp leads to the first viewing point, while 178 steps descend to the lower overlook.
The trail starts at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center parking lot off U.S. Route 19.

Long Point Trail: Moderate. Restroom located at trailhead.
Traverse field and forest on the way to a rock outcrop called Long Point where you'll see panoramic views of the Gorge and Bridge. Most of this trail gently descends through the forest, with one steep section just before you arrive at the point. CSX railroad tracks are visible on both sides of the river; the cliffs of the "Endless Wall" and Wolf Creek draining in to the New River are visible across the Gorge. Caution: unprotected cliff edges.
To get to the trailhead from U.S. Route 19, follow WV16 south through the town of Fayetteville. Turn left on Gatewood Road (sign indicates Kaymoor and Cunard). Follow Gatewood Road for 1.9 miles, then turn left on Newton Road. The trailhead parking area is 50 yards on the left.

Travel Notes

♦ 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.
♦ 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.
♦ 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.
♦ 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, and a nearby WalMart.