New River Gorge National Park Gets New Signs
The New River Gorge became a national park in December. On Friday, state and local officials unveiled the new highway signs that will direct visitors to it.
On Monday, the West Virginia Department of Highways began placing 87 signs in three counties.
The old signs said “New River Gorge National River,” a designation it received in 1978. The new signs reflect the change to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.
The 7,000-acre park and 65,000-acre preserve stretches more than 50 miles from Hinton to Hawks Nest State Park.
At the park’s visitors center at Sandstone, Gov. Jim Justice, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Rep. Carol Miller and other dignitaries spoke of the park’s significance to West Virginia.
“This day marks an incredible day,” Justice said. “So many good things are happening in West Virginia, it's off the chart.”
The New River and nearby Bluestone and Gauley rivers, which are part of the same unit, brought more than 1.3 million visitors to the state in 2019, according to the National Park Service. They contributed nearly $70 million to the state’s economy.
State officials expect the national park designation will draw even more visitors. The state welcomed a record 3 million visitors in June, according to the state Office of Tourism.
“It was a dream of this region of West Virginia,” Capito said. “It was a dream of those who love the river and love our beautiful landscapes who came to both me and Senator (Joe) Manchin and said, ‘Can you make this happen?’”
Capito and Manchin introduced the bill that led to the national park designation in October 2019. Miller introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives.
The park made Time Magazine’s 100 of the World’s Greatest Places.
“Because we have the bragging rights here in West Virginia,” Miller said. “This is such a beautiful, beautiful spot.”