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New River Gorge National Park Set Visitor Record In 2021

New River NPP
Curtis Tate
/
WVPB
Highway signs for the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve were dedicated in July.

The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve saw a record number of visitors in 2021.

Nearly 1.7 million people visited the park last year, an increase of more than 600,000 from 2020. According to the National Park Service, 60 million more people visited national parks in 2021 than they did in 2020.

Many national parks saw a decline in visitors in 2020 due to coronavirus-related shutdowns.

“It’s wonderful to see so many Americans continuing to find solace and inspiration in these incredible places during the second year of the pandemic,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams.

The gorge was designated as a national park in December 2020. Before last year, the park’s best year was in 1996, when it saw more than 1.2 million visitors.

The New River Gorge ranks No. 47 on the National Park Service’s list of most-visited sites. There are more than 400 sites under park service management.

The gorge saw more visitors in 2021 than Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Everglades National Park in Florida and Death Valley National Park in California.

The New River Gorge, with 70,000 acres in Fayette, Raleigh and Summers counties, is the newest national park in the system.

Energy & Environment Reporter, ctate@wvpublic.org, 202-679-8470, @tatecurtis

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