The New River Gorge National River is a part of the United States National Park Service (NPS) which came into existence to maintain and protect the New River Gorge in southern West Virginia. This area was established in 1978 and spans 85 km right from Hinton downstream to Hawks Nest State Park near Ansted.
The river here forges the longest and deepest of all river gorges in the Appalachian Mountains. In the gorge, one can see over 300 meters of shale and sandstone, large boulders scattered in the river, fossils of plants and invertebrates. The river has also exposed the best reserves of bituminous coal in the world.
The waters here support a large and varied ecosystem comprising rare animals, and plants. The reptiles, mammals, amphibians and birds are a treat to see. The vegetation of this area is home to many kinds of birds and amphibians. The park supports several kinds of forests, wetlands, cliffs and rim rocks that are home to a large variety of rare species, such as bats and the Allegheny wood rat, besides 63 mammal species. The river is home to 48 amphibian species such as the salamander and the eastern hellbender. Bird life here comprises thrushes, wood warblers, hawks, vireos and peregrine falcons.
The people who live here comprise those working in the railroad depots and allied services, the lumber industry, coal mining. There are also farmers here who, history tells us, have worked on subsistence farms and homesteads.