Exploring New River Gorge National Park with Dogs


Exploring West Virginia's New River Gorge National Park and Preserve with your Dogs

West Virginia is home to America’s newest National Park, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. The New River was designated as a national river in 1978 and officially became a national park on December 27, 2020. 

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is steeped in rich history and outdoor recreation. The 53-mile-long national park covers 70,000 acres of public lands, which has so much to offer, including rock climbing, biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, and camping. Fortunately for us outdoor lovers with dogs, the New River Gorge continues to allow dogs on all trails within the park and preserve with its new national park title. 

Please be prepared to follow the regulations if you choose to bring your dogs to the New River Gorge. Read the Park Pet Policies.

We were so excited to be invited back to this beautiful state by the West Virginia Department of Tourism. We got to go on an adventurous road trip, and this time Sancho joined us.

Whether you’re visiting for a day, a weekend, or longer, I’ve created an itinerary and shared my suggestions to help you on how to explore West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park and Preserve with your Dogs. After reading this post, I hope you feel inspired to move this state and national park to the top of your bucket list!

Getting There: 

Driving is the best and most convenient way to get to West Virginia’s New River Gorge when traveling with dogs. You can travel by car from many different directions, and lots of major cities are within an afternoon’s driving distance. 

West Virginia’s New River Gorge is about 5 hours by car from Washington D.C. and about 4 hours from Richmond, Virginia.

If you’re coming from further away and need to fly in, West Virginia International Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia, is the closest major airport, and it is an hour-long drive away from West Virginia’s New River Gorge. 

Where to Stay:

Looking for perfect accommodation can be challenging, especially when traveling with dogs. Thankfully, there are many options close to West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

ACE Adventure Resort is nestled into 1,500 wooded acres beside the stunning New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. The resort offers cozy log homes, cabins, chalets, and camping. Onsite you’ll also find three different dining options, making a stay with ACE a breeze. 

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve offers primitive camping if you feel adventurous. Camping areas are located along the river. All sites are managed on a first-come, first-served, and no reservations are accepted.

Fayetteville Area Trails

Canyon Rim Boardwalk (Canyon Rim Visitor Center)
Exploring West Virginia's New River Gorge National Park and Preserve with your Dogs
  • Length: .6 miles (out & back)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 88 ft

This trail is a short, 5-minute walk that offers up-close scenic views of the gorge and New River Gorge Bridge. It is wheelchair/mobility equipment friendly, and a stroller-friendly ramp leads to a viewing point with the option to descend 178 steps to a lower overlook. This trail can be heavily-trafficked but worth the wait to get a great photo in front of the bridge.

Long Point Trail
Exploring West Virginia's New River Gorge National Park and Preserve with your Dogs
  • Length: 3.2 miles (out & back)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 321 ft

This trail provides the best view of the New River Gorge Bridge. It is relatively easy, with slight ascent and descent through the forest. There is a steep section before you reach the point, with some narrow paths, and you’ll be walking on some roots. You’ll then get to the rock outcrop with panoramic views of the gorge and New River Gorge Bridge. 

Endless Wall Trail
  • Length: 2.3 miles (out & back)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 288 ft

The trail takes you on a lovely journey through the rich forest, crosses Fern Creek, and along a cliff edge. You’ll see many picturesque views, including the overlook at Diamond Point.

Kaymoor Miner Trail
  • Length: 1.6 miles (out & back)
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation Gain: 869 ft

This trail passes through historical coal mine sites named “Kaymoor.” This forest trail is a steep descent from the top of the gorge with stairs and switchbacks to the Kaymoor coal mine site.

Grandview Area Trails

Grandview Rim Trail
New River Gorge National Park
  • Length: 3.2 mile (loop)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 255 ft
Grandview is perched on the gorge’s edge 1400 feet above the river. Here you can enjoy exceptional views of the gorge and river throughout the trail.
Castle Rock Trail
New River Gorge National Park
  • Length: 1.2 mile (loop)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 150 ft

This trail starts near the Main Overlook and ends where it intersects the Grandview Rim Trail. It Features stunning close-up views of unique rock formations and exposed coal seams. Combined with the Grandview Rim Trail, it can make a great one-mile loop.

Tunnel Trail
New River Gorge National Park
  • Length: .5 mile (loop)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 108 ft

This excellent short hike features incredible rock formations, passes several tunnels in the rock, and passes beneath a large rock overhang.

Sandstone-Brooks Area Trail 

Sandstone Falls Boardwalk
New River Gorge National Park
  • Length: .4 mile (out & back)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 9 ft

Sandstone Falls is a spot you don’t want to miss. This handicapped-accessible boardwalk takes you directly to scenic overlooks, offering incredible views of the Sandstone Falls. It is the largest waterfall on the New River, spanning 1500 feet.

Other Recommended nearby places to visit outside the Park:

  • Cathedral Falls 
  • Hawks Nest State Park 
  • Babcock State Park

Dog-friendly Restaurants and Breweries:

  • Wood Iron Eatery serves breakfast, lunch, baked goods, and coffee. The restaurant has outdoor seating on its patio and picnic table areas.
  • Freefolk Brewery, grab a craft beer after a full day of exploring. The brewery allows dogs inside and outside and has outdoor seating and sectioned seating areas surrounding fire pits.
  • The Handle Bar + Kitchen is a restaurant and taproom serving local West Virginia brews. Their Biergarten has a ton of space for large groups, outdoor seating on its back patio, and picnic tables.
  • The Burrito Bar At Breeze Hill serves lunch and dinner, craft beers, and breathtaking sunset views over the New River Gorge. Indoor and outdoor dining available and bar.

Meet Sunshine
and Sancho

I’m so glad you’re here (and so is Sancho). I’m Sunshine! A Virginia-based travel enthusiast on the hunt for cozy stays, great views, unique experiences, and dog-friendly adventures. Sancho and I have spent the past 3 years exploring Virginia (and beyond) in order to share our favorite places and uncover hidden gems.

Join us on a journey to get out of our comfort zone, take the road less traveled, and explore alongside our furry family members.

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