Natural Features and Ecosystems

a deep, forested gorge and distant mountains
The Bluestone Gorge

NPS photo/Dave Bieri


The headwaters of the Bluestone River begin at an elevation of 3500 feet on East River Mountain near Bluefield, Virginia and flow for 77 miles to Bluestone Lake near Hinton, West Virginia at 1409 feet. The Bluestone is a tributary of the New River, draining parts of southwestern Virginia and southern West Virginia.

Bluestone National Scenic River is a 10.5 mile section of the Bluestone River in southern West Virginia created in 1988 under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Our nation's Wild and Scenic Rivers System was established for the purpose of protecting for the present, and preserving for the future, undeveloped, free-flowing rivers that possess "outstandingly remarkable" scenic, natural, cultural, geological and recreational values.

The 10.5 mile section of the Bluestone River contained within the park runs through a deep, scenic gorge cut through the surrounding mountains. The rugged gorge offers many inspiring views. A diverse mix of Southern Appalachian forest types, from oaks and hickories on the ridgetops to birch and sycamores along the riverbanks, can be found along the Bluestone.

forest of mixed harwood trees
Mixed Mesophytic Forest

Learn more about the forest communities of the Bluestone Gorge.

Last updated: February 9, 2021

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 246
Glen Jean, WV 25846



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