New River Gorge in West Virginia Confirmed as United States’ 63rd National Park

by Madison Miller

For those who have visiting every national park on their bucket list, it’s time to add a new soon-to-be destination to the list. Last week it was announced that the New River Gorge is now considered and protected as a national park. The area was established in 1978 as New River National River, which encompasses 70,000 acres of land along 53 miles of the New River.

New National Park in the East

The river earned protection as a national river in the ’70s. Now, under the new guidelines, it will be a national-park-and-preserve combo. There are only five of these currently. The others are in Alaska.

Another difference is that visitors will also now have a visitors fee.

The New River is amongst the oldest rivers on Earth. Along the whitewater river are deep canyons. The new national park is located in southern West Virginia along the Appalachian Mountains.

So, how did the New River Gorge become the nation’s 63rd national park?

The upgrade came from a new stimulus package Congress recently sent to the president’s desk. West Virginia has two other areas that are managed by the National Park Service: the Gauley Nation Recreation Area and the Bluestone National Scenic River.

With the new shift, the state will benefit from huge increases in tourism.

“This is going to be such a major investment in tourism in West Virginia. Being a national park is a gold stamp of approval and excellence,” Senator Shelley Capito said during a press conference on Dec. 21, according to Outside.

What is there to Experience?

The new national park is a major hotspot. Even before, the iconic river area has been a major local and tourist attraction. It is largely popular since it has such a range of activities from whitewater rafting, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, hunting, bird watching, camping, biking, and anything else you can think of.

There is a popular area called the “Lower New,” which is a 13-mile stretch of the river that has Class IV to V rapids.

Besides being in the water, there are also several other experiences to be had in the new national park. The cliffs of the gorge have excellent sandstone for climbers. There are also 12.8 miles of mountain biking trails. New River Gorge offers several paths that make for great hiking destinations.

There will be a 7,021-acre park around the gorge. There are already trailheads and a visitor center. The remainder of the land will allow for backcountry hunting.

According to NPS, there are several fantastic viewpoints in the national park. This includes railroad tracks dating back to 1872 and even Kaymoor, an old coal-mining town.