New River Gorge National Park officials warn to expect crowds

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New River Gorge National Park officials warn to expect crowds
New River Gorge Bridge spans the New River downstream of the World Jamboree site. Photo courtesy Ed Rehbein.

Summer operating hours at the newly dedicated New River Gorge National Park and Preserve will go into effect on June 12, and park officials are recommending visitors plan ahead as crowds are expected.

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Park superintendent Lizzie Watts said the park's conversion from a "national river" to a "national park" has dramatically increased visitation, and visitors are being asked to consider using alternate trails and facilities when possible.

“The park is especially busy this year,” Watts said Friday.

“Please plan ahead, and if you’re hiking, make sure you have an alternate trail in mind should your first choice be too busy.

Rhododendron Catawbiense grows wild on the rim of the New River Gorge Photo courtesy Rick Burgess.
Rhododendron Catawbiense grows wild on the rim of the New River Gorge. Photo courtesy Rick Burgess.

"Also, with the higher numbers of visitors we have using the park, helping us protect it by practicing 'Leave No Trace' principles during your visit is extra important.”

Watts also encouraged tourists to visit during less busy times of the week and day and to follow all posted guidance, noting that ‘Responsible Recreation’ is especially important this year.

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Consistent with CDC recommendations, visitors who are not fully vaccinated must wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor spaces.

Ranger-guided walks and talks will also begin soon along with fun guided hikes, bike rides, paddleboard programs, and other outdoor activities offered as part of the popular “Get Active in the Park” series.

Follow “Get Active in the Park” on social media for more information about these free activities. A calendar of park events is online at "Plan Your Visit."

Park visitor centers will also adopt summer hours Saturday—

  • The Canyon Rim Visitor Center will open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The Sandstone Visitor Center will open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • The Grandview Visitor Center will open daily from noon to 5 p.m.
  • The Thurmond Visitor Center will open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All other park facilities are open for the summer including the campgrounds, parking lots, boat launches, and most roads and 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 flooding or storms.

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.

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