Heading South to the New River Gorge for some bouldering? Be sure to get the beta before you go.
The New River Gorge is most known for its varied and aesthetic sport and trad climbs. However, below those vast and seemingly endless cliff lines lay miles of high-quality sandstone boulders. The boulders are scattered about, leaving some to sit above our most scenic vistas, others hidden in lush rhododendron forests, and even more, lay along beautiful river beds.
“The climbing in the New River Gorge is THE BEST of the best in the U.S. It’s technical, challenging, and arguably “reachy” if you’re any shorter than 6ft. The climbing here requires a great deal of tenacity and ruthlessness in order for you to see some of your most proud ascents! Needless to say, the climbing here is badass”– Kristi Buckley @kristi.buckley
The boulders, just like the routes, are thought-provoking while featuring different styles such as; steep jugs, perfect crimp lines, and gritty sloper problems. If you really want the “Wild and Wonderful” West Virginia experience, head out to the boulders and don’t be surprised if you find yourself a bit off the beaten path.
Unlike that desert southwest’s Navajo sandstone, the Nuttall sandstone in the New River Gorge is bullet hard. Although it is sandstone, the rock here is composed of up to 98% quartz, making it resistant to weathering and about as hard as Yosemite granite. In other words, no need to wait a few days or even hours after a rainstorm to get climbing!
Trip Beta: Travel Tips for New River Gorge Bouldering and Surrounding Areas
Arguably you can boulder year-round in the New River Gorge. However, the “better” bouldering season ranges from November to April.
A bouldering guidebook is available for purchase at the local climbing shop, Waterstone Outdoors, and includes an exhaustive list of things to keep in mind when accessing the different bouldering areas.
For accommodations, there are plenty of lodging options available. From campgrounds, local Airbnb’s, to hotels, & resorts you have plenty of options. Most climbers looking for community and a good laugh around the campfire, enjoy staying at The American Alpine Club Campground. They have tent camping and accommodate van campers as well.
For those looking for a “free” spot to crash—there is camping available at the Summersville Dam, roughly 20 minutes north of the New River Gorge. If you’re looking to climb at Summersville Lake or the Meadow River Gorge—this is a great camping option that is a bit closer in proximity to those climbing areas.
Access: Climbing Etiquette for New River Gorge Bouldering
Bouldering in and around the New River Gorge is seemingly just now gaining in popularity. However, access can be affected by the impact of climbers. One important thing to note about this area is that most of the boulders are located on National Park Property, and thereby you must be sure to follow all park rules.
For example: dogs must be on a leash at all times, do not trespass on private property, park mindfully in designated parking spots only, and only use the existing trails.
As always, be sure to educate yourself on the Leave No Trace Principles as those apply to all climbing access areas. Read more about the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT) in our article: What is the Leave No Trace Philosophy?
Girl Beta: Bouldering Videos for Joshua Tree National Park
Sometimes it helps to get another woman’s perspective on which boulder problems to get on. Below you’ll find a selection of female favorites, and a great roadmap on which routes to add to your tick list when visiting the New River Gorge.
Warning: If you’re climbing onsight, scroll no further. Spoilers ahead!
Powered by Bacon – V4
Egyptian Root Canal – V5
Uncle Ben’s Porno Bin – V5
Mechanical Sensei – V5
Sepia – V6
Big Daddy – V6
There’s No I in Illiterate – V6
Big shout out to the climbers who provided these videos! You can follow their sends on the following links: