LANSING, WV (WOAY) – The trails and lookout spots are already packed.
The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is beginning its summer season this week, with all four tourist locations open daily.
“It’s great to get things back to a sense of normalcy after this past year,” said New River Gorge National Park and Preserve District Supervisor Dave Bieri. “Dealing with COVID and having things closed.”
In the first week of its summer operating hours, the park is attracting more than just locals. Jordan Haines drove two hours for a family day trip and is visiting for the first time since 2004.
“We’re just kind of looking at the overlook,” Haines said. “Doing some of the hiking trails and just some different things in the area to do.”
This is the first summer for the New River Gorge since being redesignated as a national park. Bieri expects that new designation to increase traffic at all four park locations.
“Everything’s open,,” Bieri said. “We are seeing an increase in visitation. The one thing that I would let people know is to spread out. The park’s a big place.”
In addition to the trails and lookouts, the opportunity to camp out in the park has already been a huge draw.
“Our campgrounds have been a lot busier than they have been previously,” Bieri said. “Especially since we’ve been seeing more out of state visitation.”
With people like Haines already driving multiple hours to see the park, the New River Gorge should anticipate no shortage of new visitors this summer.
“West Virginia’s a beautiful place to come visit,” Haines said. “There’s lots of great things to do. Come visit West Virginia.”