New River Gorge National Park and Preserve (with Map & Photos)

The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a unit of the National Park Service of the United States (NPS) designed to protect and maintain the New River Gorge in southern West Virginia in the Appalachian Mountains. Established in 1978 as a national river, the NPS protected area stretches 53 miles (85 km) from downstream Hinton to Hawks Nest State Park near Ansted. The park was officially named the 63rd national park in the United States, the highest form of protection of the United States government.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

The New River Gorge will be upgraded to National Park and Preserve status as part of the new stimulus package that Congress recently sent to the president's desk. Once signed, within the next few weeks of Trump's remaining term, the change should take effect shortly thereafter. The New River Gorge National River is one of three units in West Virginia managed by the National Park Service, along with the Gauley National Recreation Area and the Bluestone National Scenic River. Commonly known as the New, the 73,000-acre rugged stretch of canyon in the southeastern part of the state has been a world-class destination for rock climbing and rowing since its designation as a national river in 1978.

This will be a great investment in tourism in West Virginia," Senator Shelley Capito said during a press conference on Dec. 21. Capito originally proposed a bill to update it in 2019 with fellow Senator Joe. Manchin. "Being a national park is a gold seal of approval and excellence.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

Once devastated by logging and coal mining, the gorge has become a premier adventure destination. New River Gorge has 53 miles of free-flowing whitewater, highlighted by the Lower New, a popular 13-mile stretch packed with Class IV to V rapids. The cliffs of the gorge are 300 meters high in parts. with Nuttall sandstone walls that provides climbers with more than 1500 routes. The site even has a popular 12.8-mile system of mountain bike trails built by the Boy Scouts. One could argue that its evolution is a microcosm of what is happening in West Virginia as a whole.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

Coal has traditionally been the driving economic force in the state, but as mining has declined, outdoor recreation has stepped up to fill the void in recent years, bringing $ 9 billion to the state annually, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. Capito told the press on Monday that the new designation will be a boon for state tourism, with an expected 20 percent increase in visits based on a study of previous monuments that have been upgraded to national park status.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

The new designation will create a 7,021-acre park around the heart of the gorge, which is already developed with trails and a visitor center, while the remaining 65,165 acres will be designated as a national reserve to allow hunting in the field. The bill gives the Park Service the opportunity to purchase up to 100 acres from neighboring private owners to increase parking for popular trails, as well as the opportunity to bid for nearly 4,000 acres of adjacent land to add to the reserve. Still, the federal investment should be minimal, considering that the Park Service already manages the land for recreation.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Map