The Old New River: North America's Oldest River.

As travelers, we often seek destinations that capture our imaginations, provide meaningful insights to new places, and ultimately scratch that familiar and insatiable itch for adventure. In North Carolina, that's exactly what the New River does. In this article, we'll unravel the mysteries of the New River, from its age-old origins to its unique northward flow. You'll discover the story behind its name and its remarkable status as North America's oldest river. We'll also share our favorite ways to explore and play on the New River. 

How Old is the New River? 


This remarkable river is over 300 million years old, pre-dating the Appalachian Mountains themselves. That's right; not only is the New River older than the surrounding mountains, it's older than the dinosaurs, flowers, and mammals. As tectonic plates gradually created the Appalachian Mountains hundreds of millions of years ago, the New River was already waiting to shape them.

As you stand on the river's banks, you're gazing into a distant and ancient past, a testament to the earth's transformation through millennia. Understanding the New River's age adds a profound layer to the experience of exploring this natural wonder in North Carolina.

Image may be subject to copyright
Image may be subject to copyright

Why is it Called The New River? 

If this really is the oldest river in North America, why on earth is it called "The New River?" Ironically enough, the stories behind how the river got its name are so old, it's hard to verify which of them, if any, are true.

One story claims the name came from a translation from an Indian dialect that meant "new waters." Other stories credit different European explorers stumbling upon the river unexpectedly and, using all the creativity they could muster, called it the New River.

Despite how it got its name, the New River became a moniker that captured the excitement of exploration in the New World. As you explore its banks today, it's easy to connect with the same sense of discovery and wonder that early settlers must have felt hundreds of years ago. 

Northward Flow: The New River's Unique Path

Most rivers follow a southward course to the sea, but the New River defies this convention with its northward flow. This geological oddity is part of what makes the New River so distinct and unique.

The New River's northward flow isn't just a quirk of nature; it's a testament to the ancient Appalachian Mountains' formation. As the colossal tectonic plates shifted and the mountains rose, the river adapted, carving its path northward. This remarkable adaptation created a river with character unlike any other in North America, offering not only breathtaking vistas but also a captivating story for those who venture to explore its shores.

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Plan Your Visit to the New River 

Now that you've been sufficiently intrigued by the New River's rich history and unique features, it's time to plan your adventure. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, history buff, or just looking for a serene Appalachian landscape, the New River has something for everyone.

New River State Park

The New River State Park, located just west of Scottville, North Carolina, offers a pristine natural escape with tons of recreational opportunities. Hiking enthusiasts can explore a network of scenic trails, including the Wagoner Access Trail and Elk Shoals Trail, each offering stuffing views and access to the ancient New River. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, picnicking, and wildlife watching in this tranquil and beautiful park.

Float the New River

The river's gentle, meandering flow in North Carolina is ideal for floating and paddle sports, catering to all skill levels. Surrounded by lush landscapes and scenic beauty, visitors can leisurely drift along, taking in the tranquil and ancient ambiance while kayaking, tubing, or canoeing. It's a perfect way to unwind and connect with nature.

The party on the river isn't BYOB (bring your own boat); there are plenty of local outfitters that provide canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and tubes to rent. Our favorite, New River Outfitters, even provides shuttle services and fishing excursions.

Fishing the New River in North Carolina

The New River in North Carolina offers a diverse range of fish species that can be targeted by anglers of all experience levels. It's common to catch species such as:

  • Smallmouth bass
  • Muskie
  • Catfish
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye
  • Carp

With dozens of access points along the river, especially around New River State Park, it's easy to find the perfect place to set up and cast your line. Just make sure you've got your North Carolina Fishing License first. 

Your Adventure Starts at Blue Bear Mountain Camp

Now that you've taken a virtual journey through the New River's wonders, why not make this adventure a reality? Plan your stay at Blue Bear Mountain Camp, your gateway to the beauty and history of the Appalachian landscape.

Nestled in the heart of the region, Blue Bear Mountain Camp offers a serene and comfortable base for your New River adventure. With various accommodations to choose from, including camping, glamping, and cabin options, you can tailor your stay to suit your preferences.

Don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the timeless charm of the New River. Book your stay today and experience the unique magic of this ancient river in North Carolina. The Appalachian wilderness is calling, and Blue Bear Mountain Camp is your answer.