One Tank Trip: Canyon Rim Visitor Center

FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY)- “It’s really a great way to kind of welcome people here to the national park. This visitor center is kind of a jumping-off place to people that are coming in to visit the park”

The Canyon Rim Visitor Center is the main visitor center for the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. While the outside of the Canyon Rim Visitor Center may look like how it did over 30 years ago, the inside, however, got a bit of an update.

The update? A much-needed facelift.

“So this building, the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, was built in 1991, and all the exhibits that were in here were original buildings. This might have been over 30 years old. So a lot of time to get a little refresh,” said Dave Bieri, the district supervisor at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center for the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

This refresh includes various displays about the history, wildlife, and activities people can go enjoy in the gorge, all of this for one purpose.

“This will be their first impressions of the park. They come in here, they see the view and then branch out to the different places in the park. So our idea behind these exhibits was really to kinda show a little bit of what makes this park so unique and special that some of the significant things and then show them where to go in the park to experience that,” explained Bieri. “As you go around the exhibit, you’ll see these little round explorer panels, we call them, they look like a little compass. And those are the places in the park where you can go to get more of the stories that you start here.”

It was only a few short years ago that the New River Gorge National River was redesignated to the national park we all know and love today. With that, their tourism rates went from 300,000 to almost 500,000 visitors a year.

“I didn’t expect as much, it’s just a totally different kind of visitor. In the past, many people were stopping here on their way somewhere else; they were heading down to the beach and they stopped here on their way,” said Bieri. “But now we’re seeing, being the newest national park, people are here to visit this park. That’s why they came here. They’re coming from out of state and they’re staying here for multiple days and getting out of the park and doing everything there is to do here.”

Don’t worry if you were a fan of the former exhibits they aren’t exactly gone.

“Most of them have been recycled. We gave a lot of the history exhibits to the National Coal Heritage area. They’re working on a new heritage center for the public,” said Bieri. “At some point you’ll see some of the exhibits there and some of the other natural history exhibits went to the state parks. So you may see some of those in places like Babcock or Hawk’s Nest State Park.”

So whether you’re new and haven’t seen the new visitor center or have been here since it open, there are new sights and sounds fitting the newest national park and it only takes one tank of gas to get there.

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