The New River, part of the Ohio River watershed, is a tributary of the Kanawha River about 320 mi (515 km) long. The river flows through the U.S. states of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. Much of the river's course through West Virginia is designated as the New River Gorge National River, and the New River is one of the nation's American Heritage Rivers.
It was named the New River because it was not known to early Atlantic Coast explorers.Despite its name, the New River is the third-oldest river in the world geologically,and the only nontidal river that crosses the Appalachian Mountains.The New River Gorge is not only quite scenic, but also offers numerous opportunities for white-water recreation such as rafting and kayaking.
The New River is formed by the confluence of the South Fork New River and the North Fork New River in Ashe County, North Carolina. It then flows north into southwestern Virginia, passing near Galax, Virginia and through a gorge in the Iron Mountains. Continuing north, the river enters Pulaski County, Virginia, where it is impounded by Claytor Dam, creating Claytor Lake. North of the dam the New River accepts the Little River and passes the city of Radford, Virginia before passing through Walker Mountain via a narrow water gap. After flowing north through Giles County, Virginia and the town of Narrows, the river crosses into West Virginia.
The New River is impounded by Bluestone Dam, creating Bluestone Lake in Summers County, West Virginia. The Bluestone River tributary joins the New River in Bluestone Lake. Just below the dam the Greenbrier River joins the New River, which continues its northward course into the New River Gorge. Near the end of the gorge the river flows by the town of Fayetteville, West Virginia. A few miles northwest of Fayetteville, much of the New River's flow is diverted through the 3-mile (4.8 km) Hawks Nest Tunnel for use in power generation. The water re-enters the river just upstream of Gauley Bridge, where the New merges with the Gauley River to form the Kanawha River. The Kanawha is a tributary of the Ohio River, which in turn is a tributary of the Mississippi River.
Natural history :
The New River is home to many species of freshwater game fish including bass, trout, walleye, muskellunge, crappie, bluegill, carp, flathead and channel catfish.
The New River basin also has seven endemic species of fish, which are the: Appalachia darter, Bigmouth chub, Bluestone sculpin, Candy darter, Kanawha darter, Kanawha minnow, and New River shiner.
The New River is spanned by the New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia, which is open for BASE jumping on Bridge Day. It is also a very popular river for white water rafting (class II-IV in season, IV-V during the spring run-off), and several commercial outfitters offer a variety of guided trips. Those willing to brave the colder water of spring will be rewarded with a more challenging big-water experience. Near the bridge there are over 1400 single pitch sport climbs.