GLEN JEAN, WV (WOAY) – New River Gorge National River Superintendent Lizzie Watts has announced a new Love Your Park Challenge to kick off the winter season and give area residents and visitors a fun way to explore the three national parks of southern West Virginia all year long. Originally conceived as a way to celebrate three significant milestones at the parks in 2018, the National Park Service is offering the new challenge as a way to keep the celebration going into 2019 through a variety of recreational activities and stewardship projects at New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area.
“In 2018, we celebrated three anniversaries at the parks, in fact, the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Bluestone National Scenic River and the Gauley River National Recreation Area is coming up soon, on December 26,” said Superintendent Watts. “We also celebrated the 40th anniversary of the New River Gorge National River earlier this fall, as well as the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. And we are not ready to stop celebrating yet! We want the Love Your Park Challenge to be a fun way for folks to get to know our parks and to show their love for them in a multitude of ways.”
The Love Your Park Challenge is co-sponsored by Friends of New River Gorge National River and participants can choose from over 50 activities to earn points by exploring or by helping out in the three national parks of southern West Virginia throughout the year. Prizes will be awarded to every finisher, with additional prizes going to the first 100 finishers, as well as to anyone who shows their “love” for the parks by finishing before Valentine’s Day in 2019. The challenge ends on December 31, 2019, and all finishers will be entered into a drawing to win a grand prize from Friends of New River Gorge National River. A list of challenge activities and log sheet is at www.www.nps.gov/neri/getinvolved/love-your-park-challenge.htm.
To kick off the challenge, the NPS and Active Southern West Virginia will offer a special hike at Grandview on December 26, 2018, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. This hike offers “bonus points” towards the Challenge and is a great way to experience the park in winter. Follow “Get Active in the Park” on social media for more information about this special event and other free guided activities that are part of the popular “Get Active in the Park” series. Winter sports demos such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, and more will be offered as weather permits. A current calendar of events can also be found at www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/programs.htm.
Superintendent Watts has also announced that winter operating hours for park facilities will be in effect from December 14, 2018 – March 31, 2019. During this time, the Canyon Rim Visitor Center in Lansing will remain open seven days a week, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. New this year, the Grandview Visitor Center at Grandview will be open four days a week, Friday through Monday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Both visitor centers will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s days. The Sandstone Visitor Center at Sandstone and the Thurmond Depot Visitor Center will both be closed for the winter.
All other park facilities are open for the winter including the campgrounds, parking lots, boat launches, roads, and most trails. The park is normally open 24 hours a day, although certain access roads or areas may be temporarily closed due to hazardous conditions such as snow or ice. Long-term and most temporary closures are posted on the park’s webpage under “Alerts”, or at www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/conditions.htm, or through social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.