By Steve Forsell
Yes there is another new National Park which was designated in December 2020. Having visited all of the other 62 National Parks, my wife, Mary, and I were anxious to keep our list up to date and visit the 63rd Park. So as soon as we felt safe during the pandemic we were off to New River Gorge. We picked up my daughter Tess and her husband Matt and my grandson Nathan in Richmond Virginia and headed to West Virginia for our visit.
We rented a house with a private pond near the park. This gave me the opportunity to take Nathan (2 years old) fishing for the first time. See picture of him fishing with his dad. He seemed to enjoy it. However two year olds can be easily entertained.
New River Gorge is In the Southern Appalachian region and was a National River before being upgraded to a National Park. Although the name is New River, it is one of the oldest rivers in the world. It consists of 70,000 acres and has 53 miles of whitewater and wild beauty. Within the park, New River’s elevation drops 750 feet in 50 miles, creating one of the nation’s premier whitewater stretches. There are two additional sister wild river preserves near New River which are worth visiting. These are Gauley River National Recreation Area and Bluestone National Scenic River.
We spent our time hiking, visiting an old abandoned coal mining structure at Nuttalburg (just a note that the road to get to Nuttalburg is rough and steep but worth the trip), enjoying the scenery and falls and viewing the New River Gorge Bridge which at 876 feet is the third-highest bridge in the US.
Going in March was the right choice as there were limited other visitors and the weather was pleasant. Family trips to National Parks are always great and if you are considering going to a National Park I suggest you choose one of the lesser known of the 63 parks for a unique experience.