The New River was named a National Wild and Scenic River in 1976 and it wildly winds through some of the best North Carolina mountain scenery. New River State Park is base camp for exploration of this river at two principal spots—Wagoner Road Access and US 221 Access. Both offer walk-in camping a few hundred feet from parking areas and both offer paddling access. Primitive, canoe-in camping is available at downstream access areas. Brief trips or multi-day excursions can be arranged with private outfitters or careful planning if visitors bring kayaks or canoes. It’s easy to combine paddling, camping, fishing, picnicking and wildlife viewing. A visitor center with exhibit hall complements interpretive programs on the river’s history and ecology, and a community building can be rented for family or group gatherings.
Wagoner Access Area – Tent and paddle-in camping
The walk-in/paddle-in campground offers bathroom facilities with hot-water showers. Campers may pack and carry supplies or paddle-in to these campsites.
A group campsite that can accomodate up to 35 campers is also available with reservations.
US 221 Access Area – Tent, trailer, RV and paddle-in camping
US 221 Access offers two camping areas. Both have bathroom facilities with hot-water showers.
The walk-in/paddle-in campground has 14 campsites and a group campsite with potable water. Campers may park and carry supplies or paddle in to these campsites.
At the drive-in campground, 20 campsites can accommodate both tents and RVs. Ten campsites are electric only, and 10 campsites have full (electric, water and sewer) hookups, two of which are ADA accessible. The drive-in campground also offers a dump station and potable water.
Alleghany Access Area – Paddle-in camping ONLY
Alleghany Access offers eight primitive campsites and a group campsite that are accessible only by paddling. The campground has a pit toilet and drinking water. All trash must be carried out.
Campsites are available by reservation only.
Riverbend Access Area – Paddle-in camping ONLY
Riverbend campsites offer the true primitive experience. There are four campsites that are paddle-in only and only available by reservation.
Small campfires are permitted in the rock fire-rings and all trash must be carried out. There is a pit toilet but no drinking water. Campers must check in at the Wagoner Access Area.
The park is a great place for a hike!
Easy paddling and spectacular scenery make the New River a natural canoe trail for inexperienced paddlers. Its shallow, gentle waters and mild rapids are perfect for beginners, families and groups, but even expert paddlers return again and again to experience the river's beauty and tranquility.
Along the course, small tributary streams merge with the river and minor rapids stir the water's surface, adding excitement as canoes are maneuvered downstream. The best months for higher water levels are May and June. August and September are low-flow periods.
Canoeists may leave their vehicles and launch canoes at the Wagoner Road Access Area, located at river mile 26, at the US 221 Access Area, located at river mile 15, or at the Kings Creek Access at river mile 7. All vehicles must register for overnight parking. Canoes may also be launched from several bridges and roadways that cross the river. Parts of the river are suitable for tubing at times. Contact the park office for outfitter tube and canoe rentals.
The Ashe County Chamber of Commerce offers canoe and outfitter information, as well as information about the local area. Visitors desiring to paddle the New River may contact their staff for launch location and take-out instructions.
Cast your line from the river banks and reel in tonight's dinner. The south and north forks of the river provide some of the best smallmouth and redeye bass fishing in the region. The south fork downstream from the US 221 bridge is stocked with muskellunge. Trout fishing is excellent in the smaller, faster tributaries, most of which are designated general trout waters and are stocked regularly with rainbow and brown trout. Rockfish also migrate up the New River in the spring behind the shad. Anglers need a state fishing license and must obey the regulations of the NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
Each of the park's access areas includes a picnic area. Wagoner Road Access Area has a 10-table covered shelter with grills and a fireplace. The shelter is available for group gatherings and may be reserved. A grove of apple trees provides a canopy for 13 tables and two grills. Restrooms and drinking water are located nearby at the park office and the campground shower-house.
The US 221 Access Area, located at river mile 15, has a small picnic area downstream from the campground. Bathrooms are located between the campground and the picnic area. An 8-table shelter with a grill is also available by reservation.
The community building located at the 221 Access features a large meeting room, kitchen facilities and restrooms. Contact the park office for reservations and a fee schedule.
Three picnic tables are provided in an open meadow at the Alleghany County Access Area, located at river mile 1 near the Virginia border. This area can be reached only by canoe. A pit toilet and a pump for drinking water are also provided. The Kings Creek Access Area offers two tables and two grills with restrooms nearby.