New River Gorge: What to Know About the Newest National Park

by Kayla Zadel

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia is now a National Park thanks to a stimulus bill signed in Dec. 2020. The area, which’s often referred to as the New, is hoping that the new legislation will help expand its new tourism efforts.

New River Gorge spans more than 70,000 acres across the rugged canyon with a river running through it, NPS reports. There are many things to do at the “New” destination.

As a matter of fact, here’s a list of great activities that you can do at the new National Park.

Hunting and Fishing at the New River Gorge

This new act shines a light on all the National Park and Preserve has to offer and that includes hunting and fishing. With the new allocations, the New River Gorge and National Park are designated as a National Preserve.

That means there are around seven-thousand acres of scenic riverfront that’s reserved for ultra-protected national park status. However, more than 65-thousand acres are available for hunting and fishing access as a national preserve explains Condé Nast Traveler.

Whitewater Rafting

The New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. Adventurists will have the opportunity to get out on the 53-miles of rivers.

One of the most popular areas for experienced whitewater rafting is called the “Lower New.” However, there are more novice and kid-friendly areas of the river for those looking to ride the waves.

Additionally, if living life in the slow lane is more your speed, then paddle boarding is also offered via Active Southern West Virginia.

Rock Climbing at the Gorge

The river isn’t the only thing for outdoorsmen to check out at the New. Just look up at the thousand-foot tall cliffs, at some parts.

Over 1400 established rock climbing routes on hard sandstone cliffs are perfect for rock climbing. Some range from 30-feet tall to 120 feet high. New River Climbing School hosts daily climbing and rappelling courses for novice climbers. Furthermore, there are 12.8 miles of mountain-biking trails that the Boy Scouts built in the New’s Arrowhead section.

Hiking at the New River Gorge

Hiking will still be a staple at the new National Park. However, the biggest change for hikers might be the addition of an entry fee. In addition to federal funding, the fee will go towards creating new opportunities for the park that could help attract and grow visitation.

“The New River Gorge is such an important part of West Virginia and…will shine a brighter light on West Virginia and all that it has to offer,” said West Virginia Senator Shelley Moore Capito.

Furthermore, not much in the park will change. This is West Virginia’s initiative to move away from its prominence as a coal mining state and towards one of increasing conservation and recreation.