RV Camping At America’s New National Park
National Park Passport holders have a new stamp to add to their collection. West Virginia’s New River Gorge National River, located in the Appalachian Mountains in the southern part of the state, has officially become a U.S. national park, thanks to the December 2020 COVID-19 stimulus package.
Now referred to as the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, the destination has been a long time outdoor activities hub for hiking, fishing, rock climbing, whitewater rafting, biking, and RV camping.
“Being a national park is a gold stamp of approval and excellence,” U.S. Senator Shelley Capito said in a press conference.×
WOWK-TV, virtual channel 13, a CBS-affiliated television station, recently reported on the 63rd national park in the clip below.
What can visitors do at the park?
Whitewater rafting and climbing are the two most sought-after outdoor sports at the park. One of the world’s oldest rivers in the world, the New River Gorge is a paradise for rafters with its 53 miles of free-flowing whitewater. One section features Class IV and V rapids. With over 1,500 routes, rock climbers can scale sandstone trails 30 to 120 feet high with difficulty levels ranging from 5.10 to 5.12.
In addition to extreme sports, the New River Gorge has a 12.8-mile system of mountain bike trails built by the Boy Scouts. There are over 100 miles of hiking trails and about 65,000 acres designated for backcountry hunting. This area is home to wildlife like white-tailed deer, river otters, and bald eagles. Avid fishermen might snag smallmouth and rock bass or walleye and trout, depending on the time of year.
The Appalachian Mountains’ largest gorge is also home to the nation’s longest arch bridge. The New River Gorge Bridge is 3,000 feet long and towers almost 900 feet above the river. It is recorded as the largest steel span in the Western hemisphere and is the third highest bridge in the country. Every third Saturday in October, BASE jumpers leap from the bridge as part of an annual festival. This is the only place in the park system that allows this activity.
The New River Gorge and neighboring towns have a rich history with Native American, pioneer, railroad, and coal-mining communities. Visitors can glimpse this cross-cultural tapestry by touring rural farming, railroad, and mining towns and/or going on scenic drives that showcase both the natural beauty and historical references of West Virginia’s upbringing.
How does the “national park” status affect New River Gorge?
A handful of changes will come to fruition with the new “National Park” title. Environmental protection measures like river cleanup and mountain-face preservation will be enacted. Additional federal funding could also mean more educational outreach opportunities.
The new title should also bring more tourism dollars to the state. Senator Capito expects to see a 20% increase in visitors’ number to the new park after its upgrade is made official.
“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, and provide another catalyst for our tourism industry and local businesses,” said Senator Capito.
Does the park offer RV camping?
All camping within the park is primitive, and most RV and tent camping is located near the river. Currently, according to the National Park Service website, all campgrounds are closed. However, campgrounds at Glade Creek, Grandview Sandbar, and Stone Cliff are scheduled to open on August 8, 2021.