Nationally Significant—New River State Park
Imagine canoeing or kayaking—or even tubing—mile-after-mile of a federally designated National Wild and Scenic River. Then throw in overnight camping along the way and easy commercial shuttles back to your car. That's just part of what New River State Park has to offer.
You have to love a state park with a Web site that says some “state park properties may be reached only by canoe.” Yes!
Of course there are easy ways to drive to portions of this riverside, geographically spread out state park—to put in and take out a canoe or kayak, camp, picnic, hike miles of trails with river views from right beside the water or high above. There’s even great insight to be found in a first-class visitor center. But much of New River State Park is best appreciated, or only appreciated, from the watery solitude and splendor of one of America’s most significant rivers. New River State Park surprises with a scenic 26-mile stretch of the stream.
The New—actually Earth’s second oldest rivers—is one of relatively few rivers that flow north instead of south. It surges from headwaters streams near Blowing Rock, NC and the flanks of Elk Knob, another High Country State Park, and runs north into Virginia, and West Virginia, into the Kanawha River and ultimately to the Gulf of Mexico.
The New is a National Wild and Scenic River and one of only fourteen American Heritage Rivers. The pastoral mountain countryside it flows through speaks loudly of our nation’s natural and cultural heritage.
As one of the Boone Area’s most renowned recreation resources, the New is a place where even beginning paddlers can cruise into adventure with multi-night canoe trips with state park camping available along the way. There are both canoe and car accessible campgrounds (with showers). Tubing is another great way to go. Local outfitters offer all manner of water craft for rent and will shuttle you to or from put-ins, take-outs, outposts and parking areas.
As a mostly slow-flow river, the New is a great place to just float downstream—especially if you have something better to do than just paddle. Bring your fishing gear or binoculars—fishing and birding are two great excuses to let someone else steer.
Birders will see many species found away from rivers in the mountains, including turkeys. Birds of prey include red-tailed hawks, which nest on shoreline cliffs, and a growing incidence of ospreys. Indigo buntings, scarlet tanagers, spotted sandpipers, wood ducks, American goldfinches, and belted kingfishers. The park touts “black-billed cuckoo, willow and least flycatchers, warbling vireo, golden-winged warbler, and northern oriole” as uncommon species of interest to serious birders.
Fishing in the New is world-class, with small-mouthed bass, red-eye bass, and muskellunge are among the resident species. A variety of trout species populate the rivers tributaries.
The ongoing effort to keep the New River pristine and free-flowing started in the 1970s when a proposal was made to dam the river. Citizen action defeated the plan and preservation and recreation have been the focus ever since. The 26.5 mile stretch of the New in the state park was declared a State Scenic River in 1975 and a National Wild and Scenic River in 1976.
Download the park's canoe map.
Dive into our Interactive Map!
Zoom in close on the map below (use the plus/minus signs and directional arrows at upper left), or repeatedly double click near, but not on, the map symbols. You can literally dive down to see the parking lots and landmarks for High Country State Parks (choose the symbols at upper right for New River State Park). Click any map symbol and information balloons pop up. In the map balloons, click "Directions," add your address or location, and step-by-step directions will guide you to the location from wherever you are! This map permits "Terrain view" so click that to see a topographical map.
View State Parks of the High Country in a larger map