New River Gorge National Park celebrates first anniversary of new designation
WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is celebrating its first anniversary for its re-conversion to a national park after passing a bill originally created in 1978 and officially promulgating it on December 27, 2020.
And now, a year later, the newest national park has seen a lot of positive changes, including an increase in visitation of around 30% and much more attention globally.
“We welcome a different type of visitors. Other than the people who stop just to go to other areas of the park like Shenandoah or the Smokies, we get people to come here to see the New River Gorge now as their main destination, ”Park Ranger Eve said. West, Chief Interpretation Officer for New River Gorge National Park.
And while Park Ranger West believes part of the increase in visitors is due to COVID-19 precautions drawing people to the great outdoors, she thinks people are just starting to appreciate being there more. ‘outside. But it remains to be seen whether the number of visitors will continue to increase for 2022.
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens, you know, it’s really hard to say, things can level off, I don’t imagine they’ll go up thirty percent more,” she said.
But even more visitors or not, the National Park Service reserves its share of new opportunities for the 63rd national park, including the reopening of several trails under maintenance. And, many locals have high hopes for the park in the future.
“We’re seeing more press in the park and people come here and see how beautiful and awesome it is,” says Tabitha Stover, executive director of the Fayetteville Visitor Center. “So, it’s just a really exciting time to be a town right next to the national park.”
And with new opportunities, Stover says events that were canceled at the park last year are also expected to make a comeback in 2022.