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EVERYTHING You Need To Know About America’s New National Park

It’s official! West Virginia’s New River Gorge marks America’s 63rd National Park. Here’s everything to know.


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new national park new river gorge
courtesy NPS

New River Gorge National Park | West Virgina

The Scoop

Yes! There is in fact a new national park of the congressionally designated variety. Crazy, we know! Just when you thought 2020 had completely run out of *surprises* we get this, and we’ll take it.

It turns out that lumped into that behemoth of a stimulus bill (5,593 pages!) was a little nugget for public lands lovers, a brand spanking new national park! (*drum roll please*) Located in the southeastern corner of the mountain state comes a real stunner of a park, give it up for West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park!

new national park new river gorge
courtesy NPS

New River Gorge National Park | West Virginia

The Background

This area of West Virginia was once favored logging and coal mining country has, in more recent decades, turned into a recreation playground home to prime rock climbing and white-water rafting territory. The gorge’s push toward recreation was cemented in 1978 with The New River Gorge’s (referred to by local’s as “the new”) National River designation. Since then word has slowly gotten out about this east coast gem.

new river gorge
courtesy NPS

New River Gorge National Park | West Virginia

The New National Park

New River Gorge National Park will encompass 73,000 acres in total. The majority of the land (65,000 acres) will be designated as “preserve” to allow backcountry hunting while the other 7,000+ acres which have already been developed with trailheads & visitor centers will be for the park.

The nation’s 63rd national park will be West Virginia’s first. Historically, national park designations increase tourism (and tourism revenue) exponentially attracting national park lovers from all over the world. This new national park will be focused heavily on recreation activities with world class white-water rafting, bike trails, hiking trails, rock climbing, fishing, hunting, and more.

new river gorge national park
courtesy NPS

New River Gorge National Park | West Virginia

What Will Change With the Designation

Not much will change in terms of management with the new national park designation. Limited resource extraction will still be allowed in segments of the park along with hunting. 

Most of the change will likely happen as a result of new tourism dollars coming in. Some of the facilities may eventually see upgrades to accommodate the increase in visitation.

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Will Pattiz

Co-founder of More Than Just Parks. Husband. Conservationist. Currently living in NYC.

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