New River State Park | Jefferson, NC
Wild and Scenic
On land or by water, make sure this family-friendly park and river are on your radar for a visit. Believed to be one of the oldest rivers in North America, the New River travels north toward its ultimate destination – the Gulf of Mexico, via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
It’s been that way for thousands of years, and because 26.5 miles of this water is protected as a Wild and Scenic, and the New River State Park accompanies the water with land as old as the hills, you’ve got a beautiful opportunity to enjoy the whole package.
The park offers camping and special events, including ecology hikes, guided tours, a traditional New Year’s Day hike, and lots of nature excursions, both on and off the water. Ten marked trails within the park (some wheelchair accessible) allow families to follow markers and spend an hour or so enjoying nature at its finest (most are a mile or less, with round-trip and one-way options).
Trees include oaks, hickories, maples, pines and, in higher elevations, hemlocks. You’ll see dogwood, sourwood and sassafras, as well as gum, yellow poplar, birch and black locust. Wildflowers are rampant. Look for huckleberries, mountain laurel and hydrangeas. (Ask the ranger about the 14+ species of rare, threatened, or endangered plants in the valley.)
Be prepared to see red-tailed hawks, wild turkeys and dozens of birds. White-tailed deer are often visible but you probably won’t spot a black bear. River otters, mink and muskrat may be encountered.
Canoes and kayaks can be rented from local outfitters, and when it’s warm enough, the review sites come alive with happy tales of tubing with family and friends.
WOW Factor: Archeologists suggest humans have been here at least 10,000 years. Daniel Boone settled near here. The New River was named by Peter Jefferson, the father of Thomas Jefferson. Native Americans hunted in the area and used the river for navigation. It’s beautiful and relaxing and the flora and fauna are nothing short of spectacular.
Hint: From personal experience, wear long sleeves to tube. Your arms will thank you later. Take extra dry clothes and shoes. State parks are alcohol-free.
Learn more: www.ncparks.cov/new-river-state-park
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