Due to the December COVID-19 stimulus bundle, at the moment the National Park Service gives gold normal monetary assist to a portion of West Virginia’s New River Gorge, providing world-class rock climbing, rafting, hiking, and mountain biking. The New River Gorge is the America’s 63rd National Park.

In late 2020, Congress accredited changing 7,021 acres in the midst of the 73,000-acre New River Gorge Preserve right into a National Park, with the stimulus bundle enhancing amenities to assist an estimated 20 % improve in tourism. The funding additionally helps the acquisition of 100 acres from native landowners for path entry and improved parking. The remaining 65,000 acres within the Preserve are designated for backcountry looking.

Located within the southeastern nook of West Virginia within the Appalachian Mountains, the park is inside a five-hour drive to main cities: Charlotte, NC; Louisville, KY; Columbus, Ohio; and Washington, D.C.

“In 2020, we had an explosion of visitation here,” says Kenny Parker, proprietor and operator of the specialty climbing store and information service Waterstone Outdoors in Fayetteville, West Virginia. “Getting National Park status will add more fuel to the fire.”

Today’s annual visitation to the “New” consists of 1 million folks, many coming for outside adventures and scenic drives. The Gorge comprises greater than 50 miles of whitewater as much as Class V. It additionally consists of 1,400 climbing routes (each sport and historically protected) on bullet-hard sandstone. The New York Times reviews routes right here “rank among the best in the East Coast for rock climbing.” New River Gorge additionally comprises 13 miles of newly constructed mountain bike trails.

Matt Childers

Climbing at New River Gorge

In 1978, the Department of the Interior designated the New River Gorge a nationwide river. Quickly, whitewater rafting put the New on the map. Climbing quickly adopted within the Nineteen Eighties. Climbing is what introduced Parker to the world the place he’s authored a whole lot of first ascents. Due to the huge measurement of the park and unending cliffsides, he compares it to Yosemite Valley in grandeur. “In the early days, no one knew climbing was going on here,” he says. “Today, climbing is the largest user group.”

Parker credit the recognition of the climbing at the New with a spillover of the various climbing gyms popping up in surrounding states. Though, with few newbie routes within the Gorge, he says the New is finest suited to average to professional climbers. “The rock is consistently good and it’s as hard as granite. And it’s as diverse as it gets: steep faces, slabs, super overhanging, roofs, cracks of every width.”

“I think it’s the best cragging (single-pitch routes) in the country that I’ve been to,” says native climber Matt Childers. “I love Fayetteville and it’s near and dear to my heart. I think these changes are a great thing that will be good for the economy.”

April by June, and October by December is finest for mountain climbing. Winter months and early spring carry heavy rain, and summers are too sizzling, however then it’s excellent for whitewater rafting and mountain biking.

Rafting, BASE leaping, and mountain biking

Rafting in New River Gorge National Park
Courtesy of Jay Young/Adventures on the Gorge

Seven rafting outfitters function within the New, together with the most important, Adventures on the Gorge, which additionally provides a restaurant, cabins, zip traces, guided whitewater rafting, climbing/rappelling, and fishing.

Boating within the New consists of 53 miles of free-flowing water. The higher half (southern geographically) provides primarily calm water and open swimming pools with rapids as much as Class III. The decrease (northern), referred to as Lower Gorge, has Class III-V whitewater with “colossal rapids,” says NPS. Rafting season extends from April to October.

Rafting in New River Gorge National Park
Courtesy of Jay Young/Adventures on the Gorge

West Virginia’s largest competition is the annual BASE-jumping occasion Bridge Day, which takes place on the third Saturday in October. In 2019 (pre-COVID), it attracted 100,000 guests. That 12 months, 300 jumpers leaped 876 ft from the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville. That is along with the 900 adventurers who rappelled to the bottom. Others selected zip-lining from the metal span, using the road 700 ft down from the bridge catwalk to Fayette Station Road.

Mountain biking within the New consists of the 12.8-mile Arrowhead Trails, a stacked looped system constructed by 1,000 Boy Scouts in 2011. Their effort included 78,544 volunteer hours. According to NPS.gov, the trouble was “one of the largest youth service projects in National Park Service history.”

 


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