Park designation delivers on promised increase in visitors at New River Gorge

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The National Park and Preserve designation of West Virginia’s New River Gorge turned one year old Tuesday.

Becky Sullivan

The designation was made in the 2020 federal omnibus spending legislation last December. A year later and the promise of improved visitation has come to fruition according to local officials.

“The National Park designation brought a huge increase in awareness for West Virginia. We’re seeing a big increase in the number of travelers and type of travelers in the New River Gorge Region,” said Becky Sullivan, president of the New River Gorge CVB in Oak Hill.

Sullivan said all year there was a noticeable difference in the level of activity surrounding the park, even after the area had seen a huge influx of people during the Covid year of 2020.

Sullivan said the designation has created a new level of clientele.

“We’re seeing a lot of RV’s and I think we’ve been added to a lot of bucket lists for National Park designation,” she said. “The CVBs have been contacted a lot more by publications wanting quotes and information and a lot of travel writers are interested in writing about the National Park.”

Officials promised there would be at least a 20 percent increase in traffic and visitation in the year the park designation is added. Sullivan said the visitor numbers have jumped well over 20 percent for 2021.

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