The New River within New River Gorge National River flows from below Bluestone Dam, near Hinton, West Virginia, to just north of the U.S. Highway 19 bridge near Fayetteville, West Virginia. On its journey through the gorge, the New River passes through an extensive geological formation. Emergent rocks, rock outcrops, trails and coal mines are found to provide diverse habitat producing rich and abundant flora and fauna species. In the gorge, there is typically a 1000 feet difference in elevation between the river bottom and the adjacent plateau. The New River dissects all physiographic provinces of the Appalachian Mountains, and therefore is believed to be a corridor facilitating the movement of southern plant and animal species into West Virginia. In addition to serving as a refuge for some species, New River Gorge provides a geographical barrier that limits the east-west distribution of other species. This portion of southern WV falls within the Mixed Mesophytic Forest Region. Recognized forest types in the three park areas include oak-hickory, mixed oak, oak-maple, oak-yellow pine, hemlock-hardwoods, northern hardwoods, cove hardwoods, and bottomland and floodplain hardwoods.
Natural Features and Ecosystems