Sunsets and Night Skies

Sun setting over a deep river gorge
Catching the sunsetting over the western rim of the gorge or watching the Milky Way stretch across the sky above the river are great experiences that you can find in the New River Gorge. Explore the sections below for more information.
sunset over a deep river gorge
Sunset over the New River Gorge

Gary Hartley

Sunrises and Sunsets

When the conditions are just right, as the sun peaks beneath the horizon, the river can appear to glow red reflecting the colors of the sky above.

Recommended Locations
Depending on what you want to see during the sunrise/sunset, there are many locations that can give you a glimpse.

For sunrise you want an east facing overlook on the west side of the river.

  • Long Point Trail

  • Grandview Main Overlook

For sunsets, you want a west facing overlook on east side of the river.

  • New River Gorge Bridge Overlook at Canyon Rim Visitor Center

  • Endless Wall

  • Sandstone Falls Overlook

map of summer constellations
Summer constellations

NPS Rendering

Night Skies – Exploring After Dark

People for millennia have looked up at the night sky and admired the countless number of stars that can be observed. Since the invention of constant light sources, we were able to explore the night in ways never dreamed. Imagine trying to drive a car using only a candle! Despite all the benefits it gave us, the light bulb did affect our ability to see the night sky. In 2017, it was estimated that 80% of people in the U.S. could not see the Milky Way at night. National parks and other green spaces have now become refuges for nightscapes.

While proximity to Beckley and Fayetteville prevent our night skies from being the darkest, this is still a great place to explore the night sky and see the Milky Way!

railroad depot at night
Nighttime at Thurmond Depot Visitor Center

NPS photo

Recommended Locations

The best locations for stargazing and astrophotography are going to be dark locations with wide fields of view. Many of our locations have dense tree canopies that can obstruct your views or have safety lights that impact night vision.

The following are a few locations that offer some better opportunities:

  • New River Gorge Bridge Overlook at Canyon Rim Vistor Center
  • Fayette Station Rd lower parking lot
  • Grandview Main Overlook
  • Meadow Creek Campground
  • Sandstone Falls Boardwalk
moon over a deep river gorge
Moon over the gorge at Grandview.

NPS photo/Shannon Welch

Tips and Recommendations

  • The park is open 24 hours a day. Visitors may stargaze anytime of night in the park. Sandstone Visitor Center parking lot and the Glen Jean Headquarters are closed overnight
  • Stargazing is best at least 1.5 hours after sunset and 1.5 hours before sunrise.
  • Plan your visit around the Moon phase. The brighter the Moon, the less stars you see!
  • Temperatures swing wildly from day to night. Plan ahead and bring layers.
  • Use RED instead! Bring a light source to help you navigate safely in the dark. To get the most of out of your stargazing experience, try to use a red light to preserve your night vision. To make your own, use red paper or cellophanes to cover the white light of the flashlight.
  • Let your eyes adjust to the darkness, it takes about 15-30 minutes.

Enjoying the night skies is for everyone, you don’t need expensive equipment! If you don’t have a telescope, grab your binoculars to get a better look the fuzzy spots in the sky overhead.


For further information

Where to Stargaze:

Night Skies: Night Skies (U.S. National Park Service) (

International Dark Sky Parks- West Virginia:

For the closest International Dark Sky Park, check out the links below for Watoga State Park, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park and Calvin Price State Forest.

Watoga State Park:

Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park: Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park - West Virginia State Parks - West Virginia State Parks (

Calvin Price State Forest: Calvin Price State Forest - West Virginia State Parks - West Virginia State Parks (

Last updated: January 19, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 246, 104 Main Street
Glen Jean, WV 25846



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