What's the story?
- In addition to doling out COVID-19 relief and funding the government, the coronavirus omnibus elevated New River Gorge in southern West Virginia from a national preserve to become the country's 63rd national park.
- This is the culmination of a decades-long effort to transform a former industrial area into a national landmark. The gorge and its surrounding areas are prized as one of southern West Virginia's most spectacular natural places and a premier destination for adventure sports in the East.
How big is it and what are its uses?
- The park contains about 72,000 acres of land that are used for white-water rafting, rock climbing, and biking.
- The New River plunges 750 feet over 66 miles, creating long stretches of class five rapids (the most difficult rapids that white-water boaters can navigate)
- The canyon walls, which are as high as 1,600 feet, offer some of the best rock climbing on the East Coast.
- Bike routes throughout the park offer options for both technical mountain biking and casual pedaling among former railroad beds.
What impact will the national park designation have?
- Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), who introduced the New River Gorge legislation in 2019 along with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), expects the national park designation to increase visitor volume by up to 20%. Typically, about 1.3 million visitors come to the park each year.
Sound off in the comments: will you visit the New River Gorge National Park?
(Image Credit: Creative Commons Public Domain)
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