Nestled along the banks of the second oldest river in the world, the New River State Park system is a premier destination for kayakers, canoers and fishermen across the state.
It was named a National Wild and Scenic River in 1976, according to ncparks.gov. The river gained national attention when it was visited by President Bill Clinton in 1998 when it received a special designation.
It has multiple access points. Motorists can enter the park from either the Wagoner Road Access on N.C. 88 in Laurel Springs or by the way of Old U.S. 221 in Crumpler near the general store before crossing into Alleghany County. There are also access points in Alleghany County and at the Riverbend Campsites.
In addition to the typical water sports that make the river a lure for tourists and locals alike, the park also offers a variety of camping styles. Well-maintained walking trails create a leisurely evening stroll for locals. Guided canoe trips, hikes and aquatic insect sampling are just a few of the programs offered at the park.
For most people though, the tranquil waters and the temporary escape from a hectic lifestyle is more than enough reason to visit the park.
“I enjoy NRSP because it has been a place that I have been able to make memories at throughout my entire life,” said Mandi Shumate, of Deep Gap. “Living close to the park has enabled us to take a short drive for a picnic or a place to go camping that if we needed an easy out at midnight we were close enough. It has helped us have a spot for family outings, but also a safe place that you can run solo at.”
The park also has reservable facilities, such as picnic shelters, a community building and classrooms.
For those who fancy wildlife, the park is regularly visited by deer, beavers and a chance encounter with a bear is not out of the question when stopping by at the park.
According to N.C. State Parks, there are at least 14 species of rare, threatened or endangered plants that grow in the valley that complements the densely populated forest in the immediate vicinity.
The park’s hours vary depending on the access point.
Wagoner Access & US 221 Access
December – February: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
March, April, October: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m.
May – September: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
November: 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Closed Christmas Day
Visitor Center & Office
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. week days
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. weekends
Closed Christmas Day
Kings Creek Access
Closed Nov. 1 through March 31. Re-opens April 1.
Hours of operation are:
April, October: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
May – September: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
For more information or to make a reservation, call 336-982-2587. From Jefferson, turn onto U.S. 221/16 N. Travel north about 4.7 miles to Tom Fowler Road. Turn right and go to the stop sign (1.3 miles). Turn left onto U.S. 221, go 2.7 miles, park entrance is on the right.
Nathan Ham may be reached at 336-489-3062.