About 160 miles of the New River flows through Southwest Virginia, drawing outdoor and water sports enthusiasts year-round to experience the scenic river journey over the Blue Ridge Mountains. The New River enters Virginia from North Carolina near Mouth of Wilson, then makes its way northward, leaving the Commonwealth around Pearisburg to finally end in West Virginia. This flowing gem is unique in several ways; it is one of only a few rivers in the world that primarily flows south to north, and the river is also considered to be the second oldest river in the entire world (the Nile in Egypt is the first, and also one of the rare north-flowing rivers!). Whether you’re interested in an adrenaline-fueled whitewater kayak trip or looking for a quiet peaceful retreat on the water, plan a trip to the New River to venture into some of Virginia’s most stunningly wild waterfront acreage.

Southern New River: North Carolina Border to Pulaski


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos

Communities to Visit Along the River: Mouth of Wilson, Independence, Fries, Galax, Austinville, Draper, Pulaski

River Outfitters & Guides:

New River Camping


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While much of the New River runs through beautifully undeveloped land, there are still many places to visit along the river’s shores. If you’re a music lover, you need to visit Galax, part of the iconic Crooked Road music trail and home of the historic Rex Theater, which hosts a live radio show every Friday night featuring Bluegrass and Oldtime bands. The town also holds several notable music festivals, including the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention. The town of Fries, just a few miles northwest of Galax along the river, is another stop on the Crooked Road worth visiting if you’re interested in learning more about the musical heritage that comes from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.


Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos

Outdoor activities abound along the New River, from fly fishing and kayaking to cycling nature trails along the shores. The New River Trail State Park parallels the river for more than 50 miles through Grayson, Carroll, Wythe, and Pulaski, and the converted “rails to trails” pathways through the park invite hikers, horseback riders, and cyclists to discover the beauty of the New River in the untouched landscapes of the park.

Access Points of the New River:                                                                                  

  • Baywood
  • Bridle Creek
  • Independence
  • Mouth of Wilson
  • Oldtown
  • Riverside
  • Byllesby Pool
  • Ivanhoe
  • Austinville

Northern New River: Pulaski to West Virginia Border

New River Stand Up Paddleboard

Photo Credit: Sam Dean, @sdeanphotos

Communities to Visit Along the River: Hiwassee, Radford, Eggleston, Pembroke, Pearisburg, Narrows

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Northern New River Area Highlights:

New River Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

A popular spot for water sports, the 4,500-acre Claytor Lake was formed in 1939 by a hydroelectric dam built on the New River. Along the waterfront, Claytor Lake State Park provides campgrounds, cottages, and hiking trails for those water enthusiasts that want to explore and stay on the lands along the New River. In addition to the pristine state park grounds, Claytor Lake offers a large, calm waterway that lends to motor boating and sports like water skiing, wakeboarding, and stand up paddleboarding. For those looking for accommodations a little more upscale than camping, there are various rental properties and inns along the lake that have a wide range of amenities.

Access Points of the New River’s Northern Section:                                          

  • Little River Road Public Boat Launch
  • Peppers Ferry Road Public Boat Launch
  • Whitethorne Public Boat Launch
  • New River Junction/Big Falls Park
  • Snidow Park Landing
  • Glen Lyn
  • Narrows
  • Rich Creek


Photo Credit: Cameron Davidson

Get out on the New River this summer and you'll find adventure, endless fun for the whole family, and some of the Commonwealth’s most gorgeous scenery are just around the bend! Share your tips for visiting the New River and communities along the river with us below.