West Virginia Wildlife – Wild and Wonderful

If you happen to be rafting, biking, hiking or just hanging out in the New River Gorge, one thing you can't help but notice is that it is comprised mostly of forest. At any point in the Gorge there may be thousands of acres in any direction with no civilization present. This makes it a great place for wildlife to reside. Peregrine Falcon

Many people visit the Gorge and never see a single animal. After all, many adventure activities don't really allow for a lot of scenery-watching. But there is plenty of wildlife here in the Gorge, and if you take the time to look for it, it can be found.

The Critters

Here's a small list of some of the animals that make their home in the Gorge.

  • Squirrels
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Opossums
  • Hawks (many varieties)
  • Falcons
  • Bald Eagles
  • Turkey
  • Deer
  • Bear
  • Coyotes
  • Bobcats
  • Mink
  • Otters


There is also a large variety of bird species, small rodents, amphibians, reptiles and fish that call this area home. The Gorge is a very healthy ecosystem and its protected status is a major reason why.

Wildlife Viewing

If it's wildlife viewing you're after, then there are a few ways you can make it more likely that you'll have a successful outing.

  • When hiking, cover ground slowly and fairly quietly. Remember, the farther away you get from roads or well-used areas, the more likely you are to encounter wildlife.
  • Stop, look and listen.  Take your time to look around and don't get in a hurry to move. Scan the area very carefully before moving again.
  • Timing is key.  Very early mornings and late evenings are the optimal time to see animals, as they are either coming out of their hiding spots or getting ready to disappear into the foliage.
  • Come to the Gorge for one of our animal-related events.  The New River Birding and Nature Festival takes place every May and is a great way to learn from some expert birdwatchers.


Just remember that no matter how cute, cuddly or friendly an animal looks, keep a respectful distance. There's a reason why they call it wildlife.

What wildlife have you seen in the Gorge?