Curtis Tate Published

National Park Visitors, Spending Increase, Driven By New River Gorge

A brown highway sign with white lettering on a hazy August day with green mountain ridges in the background.Curtis Tate/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

More people are coming to West Virginia’s national parks and they’re spending more, according to a report from the National Park Service.

Visitors and spending increased after the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve gained national park status.

In late 2020, the New River Gorge became the newest unit of the National Park Service. Last year, and in 2021, national park visitor spending in the state topped $100 million for the first time. 

Park visitation increased to 1.6 million in 2021 and 2022, up from 1 million in 2020 and 1.2 million in 2018 and 2019.

The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park also registered an uptick in the past two years: 400,000 visitors last year, and 300,000 in 2021.

More visitors came to New River last year and in 2021 than went to Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, which charges an entrance fee.