Laws & Policies

kayaker running the rapids

To Protect Visitors and Resources: Policies and Regulations

There are a variety of documents that guide the management of Bluestone National Scenic River, Gauley River National Recreation Area,and New River Gorge National River. Many documents, like the National Environmental Policy Act, articulate legal requirements to which federal entities must adhere. Other documents, like the park's General Management Plan and Superintendent's Compendium, are formal documents that create a "contract" between New River Gorge National River and the public. Still others, like Director's and Superintendent Orders, direct how New River Gorge and other national park units will operate.

The information available in this section will allow you to become more aware of park implementation plans and of how park operations are structured toward success in achieving the NPS mission of preserving unimpaired park resources for the enjoyment of future generations.These pages also include specific regulations on a variety of activities within the park.

Federal Laws
Laws are created by Congress and establish the highest order of legal authority over national parks. More...

Many laws, including the 1916 Organic Act that created the National Park Service, affect all areas managed by the National Park Service.

Firearms in National Parks

The law governing possession of firearms inside a national park changed on February 22, 2010.

Visitors may possess firearms within a national park unit provided they comply with federal, state, and local laws.

The role of the responsible gun owner is to know and obey the federal, state, and local laws appropriate to the park they are visiting. For more information about West Virginia gun laws please visit their website.

Please remember that federal law prohibits firearms in certain park facilities and buildings. These places are marked with signs at public entrances.

NPS Policies
Service-wide policy for the National Park Service is developed by the Office of Policy with public input and in accordance with applicable laws. Policies dictate many of the overall directions and procedures used by all parks.

Park Regulations
The Code of Federal Regulations and theSuperintendent's Compendium provide a complete listing of park rules and regulations. These most specific rules are developed with public input to implement applicable law.

Please be aware of the following regulations:

Hunting and fishing are allowed throughout Gauley River National Recreation Area on federally-owned lands in accordance with regulations established by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources or in accordance with posted National Park Service safety zone signs. Please note, with the exception of legal hunting and fishing, all resources are protected including most plants and animals.

For visitor safety, fishing is prohibited within 100 feet of boatlaunch/take-out areas while watercraft are using the launch/take-out area.

Camping is allowed throughout the park on federally-owned lands unless otherwise posted. The National Park Service does not own most of the land within the boundaries of the Gauley River National Recreation Area. Be aware of private property and respect the rights of land owners. Unless developed sites are offered, camp sites must be at least 100 feet away from any river access area, developed trail head area, top edge or bottom of any cliff, park structure or historic ruin. The maximum stay is 14 days at the same campgound. There is no camping fee.

Open Fires
Open fires are allowed where campfire receptacles are provided and must be contained in these designated containers. Campfires are prohibited within 100 feet of any river access area, developed trail head area, top edge or bottom of any cliff, park structure or historic ruin. Use only dead and down wood. Be sure your fire is out and cold before leaving. Do not burn tires or drive nails into trees. The use of chain saws is prohibited.

The following activities are not permitted:
  • The use of firearms is prohibited when not legally hunting.
  • Public intoxication or disorderly conduct is not permitted.
  • Driving while drinking and open alcoholic beverages in motor vehicles are prohibited.
  • The use of, sale to or gift of alcohol to anyone under 21 is not permitted.
  • Vehicles that obstruct traffic or fail to comply with traffic control signs will be towed at the owners expense.
  • Tampering, damaging or defacing government property is prohibited and will be strictly enforced. Respect the rights of private property owners.
  • Littering is prohibited and will be strictly enforced.
  • Pets must be restrained at all times, leashes are not to exceed 6 feet.
  • Bicycles, horses and pack animals are prohibited on all park trails unless the trail is signed as open to their use.
  • Park roads are open to motorized vehicles which are in compliance with state laws.
  • All park roads are closed to all vehicles that are designed for off-road use, such as an ATV.
  • The possession or use of fireworks is prohibited.
  • Quiet hours are between 10:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M.

For information concerning the park compendium, or to request supporting documents and maps, contact -

Permits Office: 304-465-6517

Park Headquarters: 304-465-0508


Last updated: January 6, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Gauley River National Recreation Area
P.O. Box 246

Glen Jean, WV 25846-0246


(304) 465-0508

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