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The New River Gorge National Park

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WV State Parks

West Virginia State Parks

This National Park, one of three National Rivers in the National Park system, was established in 1978 to preserve and protect 53 miles of New River, one of the oldest rivers on earth, as free flowing waterway. The park encompasses 70,000 acres along the northerly flowing river between the towns of Hinton and Fayetteville. The surrounding area is rich in cultural and natural history. Canyon Rim Visitor Center, five minutes from Opossum Creek Retreat, features a variety of exhibits, displays and photos, as well as two videos: one on the building of the Bridge and the other on how the gorge was formed. You’ll also have an opportunity to chat with friendly rangers who have loads of information to share and browse in the terrific bookstore. Some of the best reasons to stop in at the visitor center are the great views of the gorge and the bridge offered from several overlooks. Other visitor centers are found in Thurmond, Grandview and Hinton.

Gauley River National Recreation Area

In 1988 This recreation area was designated to protect 25 miles of free flowing Gauley River and six miles of Meadow River. The rugged Gauley drops 668 feet over 28 miles, forming over 100 rapids which attract 60,000 rafters a year. This area encompasses 11,000 acres between the towns of Summersville and Fayetteville. The US Army Corps of Engineers operates an office and information center at the Summersville Dam, the largest earthen dam east of the Mississippi. Take some time to have a look at this dramatic dam and check out the put-in for one of the most exciting whitewater runs in the country. 872-3412

Babcock State Park

Babcock State Park is an easy 20 minute drive from OCR. It offers great hiking trails, beautiful vistas and a number of recreational features. One of the most photographed scenes in the state is the Glade Creek Grist Mill, a fully operable mill that was constructed from parts of other mills from across the state. The park also has a swimming pool, riding stable, a seasonal interpretive program and Boley Lake, a 19 acre impoundment for boating and fishing. Next to the park is Camp Washington Carver which offers a wide range of theater programs, concerts and dances. The first week in August it hosts the Appalachian String Band Festival, one of the most popular festivals of its type in the country. 304-438-3004 or 800-CALLWVA

Hawks Nest State Park

Ten minutes from OCR you’ll find another great state park. Hawks Nest encompasses 276 acres bordering a rugged section of the New River Gorge National River. The park offers stunning views of the gorge, a golf course, interpretive programming, hiking trails and a restaurant. An aerial tramway takes visitors down to the river where New River Jetboats is located. 658-5212 or 800-CALLWVA

Carnifex Ferry State Park

A major civil war battle took place here and it is the mission of this park to preserve this part of West Virginia’s historic heritage. A reenactment of the battle takes place every other year in the fall. Bring your earplugs; the cannons are deafening! This park features a museum with civil war relics and a film about the battle, hiking trails, playground and game courts. It is possible to walk down a steep trail and watch the rafts as they make their way through Pillow Rock rapid on the Gauley River, one of the fable big five rapids that strike fear in the hearts of rafters during the fall gauley season. 872-0825 or 800-CALLWVA

Monongahela National Forest

A beautiful hour and a half drive north will take you to this gorgeous part of the state. The Mon forest was established in 1920 and now comprises 919,000 acres in 10 counties, making it the fourth largest National Forest in 20 northeastern states. It sees around three million visitors a year, who use the 23 campgrounds, 17 picnic areas and 500 plus miles of trails. There are five designated Wilderness Areas within its boundaries: Otter Creek, Dolly Sods, Laurel Fork North, Laurel Fork South and Cranberry. The closest visitor center is located at the Cranberry Wilderness Area. There is also one national Recreation Area, Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks. The forest provides habitat for 230 species of birds and nine other endangered or threatened species. The Mon also has 129 miles of warm water fishing and 576 miles of trout streams. 90% of the trout waters of West Virginia are within the boundaries. 304-636-1875