The watchable wildlife areas listed below highlight the species most commonly observed in the primary visitors use areas of the park.
Sandstone Falls/River Road
-bald eagles, osprey, great blue herons, kingfishers, numerous ducks and migrating waterfowl (loons, cormorants and hooded mergansers) in winter, beaver, mink, muskrat, river otter, northern water snakes, assorted aquatic turtles (river cooters, stinkpots and snapping), aquatic insects (Dobson flies(hellgrammites) dragon files, mayflies and damsel flies), hellbenders (large aquatic salamander), spike mussels, Asiatic clams
Sandstone Falls Overlook/ Route 20
- soaring raptors (red tail hawks, broad wing hawks, turkey vultures), also ravens, pilleated woodpeckers and flickers, plus sightings of southern flying squirrels.
During the spring and summer rangers conduct weekly birdwalks. On summer evenings thousands of big and little brown bats emerge from the park constructed bat condo.
White- tailed deer, red fox, wild turkey and black bears are spotted in the fields and forests. Turkey and black vultures, red-tail and broad wing hawks, and ravens soar on thermals over the gorge. Monarch, tiger and spicebush swallowtail butterflies, ant lion burrows, fencepost lizards and five lined skinks, red, fox, and gray squirrels, and black rat snakes are all reguarlly spotted by walking the park trails.
Black bear and bobcat, great horned owls, timber rattlesnakes, mink, beaver, raccoons, catch and release trout stream
Gwinn Ridge Trail
On the trail watch and listen for ruffed grouse, seasonal early spring tadpole/frog ponds, spring peeper and wood frog songs, spicebush and tiger swallowtail butterflies, white-tail deer ,and coyote.
Big Branch Trail
-ruffed grouse, black bear, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, pilleated woodpeckers, wild turkey, bobcat, garter snakes, early spring seasonal salamander and frog breeding ponds.
Check out the Wildlife Photo Gallery for more photos of animals at New River Gorge National River.
Did You Know?
Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular recreational activities at New River Gorge National River. The rapids range from Class III to Class V. There are a number of commercial outfitters that offer trips to the public. More...