• sun setting over the gorge

    New River Gorge

    National River West Virginia

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  • Portions of Rend Trail closed for Bridge Repairs

    Portions of the Rend Trail, formerly known as the Thurmond Minden Trail, will be closed effective immediately due to safety concerns. More »

  • River Detours and Closures at the Thomas Buford Pugh Memorial Bridge

    The WV Department of Highways and the Federal Highways Administration is replacing the Thomas Buford Pugh Memorial Bridge on Route 41 in the town of Prince. Construction will require temporary full river traffic closures and long term river detours. More »

Snakes & Safety

timber rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake

While there are many different types of snakes found at New River Gorge National River, only two types are poisonous; the Northern Copperhead and the Timber Rattlesnake. Although these snakes are not normally aggressive, they can bite if surprised or threatened. Copperheads and rattlesnakes are an essential part of the natural ecosystem and an important component in the natural food chain. Please remember that snakes are protected at New River Gorge National River; it is illegal to harm them.

Common Traits: The copperhead and the rattlesnake share three characteristics that can quickly distinguish them from other non-venomous snakes.

1. Broad, flattened, arrow shaped heads with narrow necks, while the heads of non venomous snakes are long and slender.

2. The venomous snakes have elliptical shaped eyes similar to a cat's eye, while non venomous snakes eyes are round.

3. Sensory pits located near the nostrils are also unique to venomous snakes.

How to avoid being bitten:

Stick to designated walking and biking trails.

Do not place your hands or feet where you can't see.

Keep all pets on a leash.

If you see a snake, do not provoke it or try to pick it up, just avoid it.


First Aid for a Snake Bite:

Get away from the snake. Rattlesnakes and copperheads can strike at a distance equal to about half their body length and can bite more than once. Do not attempt to kill or capture the snake.

Stay calm; don't panic.

Look for signs of envenomation: severe burning pain at the site of the bite, swelling beginning within about five minutes of getting bit and progressing up the limb, discoloration and blood-filled blisters developing in 6 to 48 hours. In at least 25% of bites, no venom is injected.

If there are immediate symptoms, get help immediately.

Send someone for help; Call 911

Try to keep the affected limb lowered below the victims heart

Keep the victim as quiet and calm as possible; activity can increase venom absorption.

Seek medical help even if there is no immediate reaction. All bites can cause infection and should be treated by a physician.

DO NOT use a tourniquet, which can cause severe damage if wound too tight.

DO NOT use cold or ice; it does not inactivate the venom and can lead to frostbite

DO NOT attempt to cut the bite or suck out the venom; cutting can damage blood vessels and nerves

DO NOT consume alcoholic beverages, which can dilate vessels and compound shock



 
copperhead

Copperhead

Northern Copperhead

Description:

· Bright copper colored head

· Reddish brown with a series of darker hourglass or saddlebag shaped markings down backs.

· Pinkish belly

· 2 to 3 feet in length


Habitat:

· Found in wooded, rocky, mountainous regions.

Characteristics:

· Copperheads will usually freeze and remain motionless when in the presence of danger.

· When agitated a copperhead may vibrate its tail rapidly in an attempt to warn off danger.

 
Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake

Timber Rattlesnake:

Description:

· A rattle at the end of its tail.

· Bright yellow to dull gray in color.

· Brown or black chevron shaped markings along its back.

· Can grow up to 6 ft in length.

Habitat:

· Found in wooded, rocky, mountainous regions.


Characteristics:

· Active from late April to mid October.

· Will seldom bite unless disturbed.

Did You Know?

Whitewater rafting on the New River

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...