The Red River Gorge (aka the Red) has some of the best rock climbing in the US. For more details, look at The Red: South Park and The Red: Drive-By Crag. As if the Red wasn’t amazing enough, a newer crag in West Virginia has developed: New River Gorge (aka The New). We’ll have a comparison review out sometime for you folks soon; don’t worry.
That being said, it’s important to note one key difference: the New is much harder than the Red. There’s really no crags at the New that are meant for beginners. The closest you can get to a beginner crag is Bubba City.
Bubba City itself is a huge crag with a bunch of walls. With a wide range of grades, it’s a great place for your first time at the New. The only caveat to that is the access to one part of Bubba City. The parking is easy to find thanks to Mountain Project, but there’s no trailheads coming from the parking lot. After some sleuthing, you’ll find that the trailhead is actually across the street, and from there it’s pretty clear where to go.
Even if you get a little confused like I did, it will be worth it for the climbing. Bubba City has a large variety of wall geometries and holds to try…it’s a route setter’s dream. Even more, there is a cave-like feature at one of the walls that has AC! Well, maybe not actual AC, but on a hot summer’s day, the cool air rushing out of there certainly felt like it. The rock is pretty great, too. Although I myself prefer sharper rock, even I have to admit the rock at Bubba City is quite the compromise between razor sharp rock and worn out, glassy rock. You won’t slip off, but you won’t cut your hands, either.
There are some scary parts to even the easier routes at Bubba City, both because of the moves themselves and because of the somewhat run out parts. Still, Bubba City is a great place to visit if it’s your first time at the New, and there’s something there for everyone. It’s worth the approach, but just remember to get the details on the approach before you go. Enjoy the variety and the nice rock!