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New River Gorge National Park

A beautiful vista at New River Gorge

Carved from one of the most ancient rivers on the planet, the rocky and beautiful New River Gorge has become a booming tourist attraction. With sandstone cliffs and roaring rapids, the New River Gorge is home to some of the most extraordinary recreational activities in the country. Not only is the New River Gorge unique for its remarkable landscape and flora, it’s also the first national park and preserve on the east coast.

The New River Gorge is home to dozens of outdoor sports, one of the most prominent being hunting. Due to hunting restrictions in national parks, many local hunters were reluctant to give their support for a National Park Designation. As a compromise, the New River Gorge was officially designated a National Park and Preserve. Out of 70,000 acres, 7,021 acres were designated as a national park and the remaining acres were designated as a national preserve. Hunting, as well as other recreational sports, are not restricted in national preserves which made this a satisfactory solution for avid hunters. With this settled, the New River Gorge was officially set to become the 63rd National Park in the United States.

Once dotted with nearly fifty coal towns located mostly deep in the Gorge, the region was once a thriving community booming with the coal industry. Nuttallburg, the second coal town in the New River Gorge and one of the most prominent, is still a popular tourist attraction and a reminder of the significant impact coal mining has had in the Appalachian region.

Growing in numbers with a population of over 300, Nuttallburg was a budding coal town by the late nineteenth century. Carrying on into the twentieth century, Nuttallburg was a promising town with a growing economy. Unfortunately, by 1919 natural resources were depleting and the once thriving town experienced a swift decline. After 1919, Nuttallburg fell into the hands of multiple owners, one of the most prominent being Henry Ford.

Ford bought Nuttallburg with the intention of using vertical integration to supply steam coal for his auto plant. However, due to unfortunate railroad regulations, his plan was not successful and thus resulted in him eventually selling the declining coal town. By 1998, the National Park Services acquired ownership of Nuttallburg and it has since remained a staple in the New River Gorge’s rich history and culture.

Ziplining at New River Gorge

The New River Gorge has gained popularity in the tourism industry for a variety of reasons, one of which being the New River Gorge Bridge. This engineering marvel stretches over the New River, which was officially designated as a national river in 1978. The New River Gorge Bridge was opened to the public in 1977 and at an astounding 3,030 feet long holds the title for the third longest single arch bridge in the world. Reducing travel time across the Gorge from forty minutes to a quick forty seconds, the New River Gorge Bridge improved the economy and changed the lives of thousands.

The New River Gorge Bridge is loved not only by locals but by thousands of tourists each year. Bridge Day, arguably the most loved holiday in West Virginia, has gained widespread attention in the last few decades and aided in bringing attention to the Gorge. An estimated 100,000 people flock to the New River Gorge on the third Saturday of October to participate in the festivities.

On this day only, the New River Gorge Bridge is closed from traffic and allows locals and tourists to walk across and enjoy vendors, local artwork, entertainment, and more. The most popular attraction, however, are the dozens of base jumpers parachuting off of the bridge. Thousands gather to watch experienced base jumpers leap from the 3,030-foot bridge and a lucky few get to raft under the bridge for a view like no other.

Whitewater rafting at New River Gorge

Whitewater rafting has gained immense popularity in recent decades due to the New River Gorge’s diverse and unique rafting options. Unlike other nearby rivers, the New River Gorge rapids range from splashy and mild Class I to adrenaline inducing Class IV+. With such a steep contrast, rafting in the New River Gorge is the perfect option for any skill level and nearly any age.

In addition to whitewater rafting, climbing is another popular recreational activity that is prominent in the New River Gorge National Park. Countless people flock to the Gorge every year to enjoy over two thousand rock climbs. Consisting of extremely hard Nuttall sandstone, the New River Gorge cliffs offer some of the best climbs on the East Coast. Climbs range from beginner friendly to advanced, creating an inclusive environment for climbers at any skill level.

Mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, and more all contribute to the Gorge’s extensive offering of recreational activities. For over a decade the local community as well as tourism leaders have pushed for a national park designation. The designation would bring additional protection to the natural resources of the area, funding to help provide park infrastructure and hopefully the average 20% local economic boost that historically has come with a National Park designation.

The bridge over the New River Gorge is the fourth longest steel single arch bridge in the world.
The bridge over the New River Gorge in West Virgina is the fourth longest steel single arch bridge in the world.

U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito and Joe Manchin began supporting the cause a few years prior. The Senators wrote, “With proximity to major metropolitan areas such as Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Richmond, Charlotte, and other major cities, the New River Gorge has the potential to attract new tourists and thrill seekers to the Gorge and the region as a whole. The potential economic impact for surrounding communities and the entire state are boundless.”

From family-owned rafting companies to local businesses, the Gorge community eagerly awaits the influx of tourists and spike in recreational activities. From a raft to a mountain bike, the New River Gorge is an adventure everyone should experience.

ACE Adventure Resort, a family-owned and operated business, is home to endless adventure activities tucked away on 1,500 acres of lush property. Neighboring the New River Gorge National Park, ACE offers whitewater rafting, gorge side zipline tours, rock climbing, rappelling, and over a dozen more adventures.

Whether you’re rafting massive rapids or climbing one of the 2,000 climbing routes, let ACE be your home away from home. Dozens of cabins dot the remote and peaceful property giving you the perfect mix of excitement and relaxation, all wrapped into one unforgettable trip. ACE Adventure Resort is the perfect vacation spot to experience the beauty of the nation’s newest national park.

New River Gorge National Park

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