The Bluestone National Scenic River protects a 10.5-mile (16.9 km) section of the Bluestone River in Summers and Mercer counties of southern West Virginia. It was created in 1988 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and is protected by the National Park Service. Our nation’s Wild and Scenic Rivers System was established for the purpose of protecting for the present, and preserving for the future, undeveloped, free-flowing rivers that possess “Outstandingly Remarkable” scenic, natural, cultural, geological and recreational values. Currently one hundred fifty six entire rivers or sections of rivers are protected under this system of publicly owned water resources.
Because Bluestone National Scenic River lies in a deep gorge with no immediate road access, getting to the area can be challenging. The best means of access is at its ends. At the downstream end, guests can enter through Bluestone State Park
. At the upstream end, visitors can ride the seasonal aerial tram at Pipestem
Resort State Park to access the bottom of the gorge. A hiking trail, the Bluestone Turnpike Trail, runs the length of the National Scenic River at the bottom of Bluestone Gorge.
There are limited opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, with the spring paddling season is most likely to provide adequate water levels. The Pipestem Tram will transport canoes and kayaks as well as bicycles for an additional charge. Fishing is a popular activity along the Bluestone, with game fish such as smallmouth bass and bluegill being favored in the area. Hunting is also permitted in Bluestone Gorge; visitors should wear appropriate blaze orange clothing during hunting seasons.