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The Gateway to Sandstonia Protected Forever

Story by Steve Keenan at Register-Herald.

The West Virginia Land Trust (WVLT) recently secured permanent access to a popular rock climbing area in the New River Gorge region.

A local climbing representative says the access acquisition is a major benefit for locals and visitors alike who pursue their passion for climbing.

According to a WVLT press release, the climbing area known as “Bubba City” or “Sandstonia” borders the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve near Fayetteville.

A 40-acre WVLT-owned preserve now called “Gateway to Sandstonia” is within a few miles of the National Park Service Visitor Center and provides recreational access to a nearly 2-mile rock wall that offers dozens of climbing routes, as well as hiking opportunities and scenic views, the release noted. The rock wall known as Sandstonia is located on New River Gorge National Park and Preserve property.

“WVLT has put the ‘public’ in public lands,” Gene Kistler, founder of the New River Alliance of Climbers and a former owner of Water Stone Outdoors, said via the release. “This strategic acquisition that connects a public road to the national park secures recreational access to miles of awesome Nuttall sandstone cliff.

“The climbing community is psyched to help create a trailhead and maintain this gift.”

“New River has over 1,400 named rock climbs and has become one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the country,” Charles Sellars, superintendent of New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, said in the release. “Providing safe and environmentally conscious access points is vital to our visitors and our resource.”

“This project is important because it secures land that ensures permanent access to a climbing area in the New River National Park and Preserve,” Adam Webster, conservation project manager for the West Virginia Land Trust, said in an email. “We will be working with local partners like the New River Alliance of Climbers to develop the parking area and new climbing access trail in upcoming months.

“This project will not only provide a permanent access solution for a popular climbing area within the New River National Park and Preserve, it will also open our property up for other visitors to go hiking, birding or to explore a new recreation space along the rim of the New River Gorge,” Webster continued. “This project is important because it allows the Land Trust to help local partners, like New River Alliance of Climbers, to secure access to a climbing area that has been important to the recreation community for many years.

“It also gives us a chance to work with them to develop the trails on the property and expand opportunities for other users like hikers, birders and people just wanting to get outdoors.”

According to the press release, climbers have known about the rock formations to the north of the New River Gorge Bridge for many years, but gaining access across private land has been an ongoing challenge. Gateway to Sandstonia will temper that scenario and serve as the permanent access that locals and visitors have envisioned for years, officials said.

Future plans for the property include parking, signage and hiking opportunities. The preserve will be developed with support from donations and local volunteers, the release noted. For those who want to get involved in development of the area, email

Webster stressed that the area is not immediately open to the public and that the WVLT plans to work with local partners to develop the parking area, signs and trails. Climbers can use the existing accesses to “Sandstonia/Bubba City” climbing areas, he said, but officials will encourage people to transition away from the existing roadside accesses that are on private property to the Land Trust property once construction of access features (parking, etc.) is completed.

Story by Steve Keenan at Register-Herald:

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