National Parks in West Virginia

There are four National Parks in West Virginia, including service sites registered by the U.S. National Parks System. The state does not share these sites with other states—here’s exactly what you need to know when planning to visit the national parks in West Virginia.

Map of West Virginia National Parks

NPS in West Virginia Placeholder
NPS in West Virginia

Bluestone National Scenic River

This unit of the national park service sites in West Virginia spans the counties of Summers and Mercer. It covers a 10.5-mile section of the Bluestone River in West Virginia. The national scenic river was established in 1988 through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Hence, it is now governed by the US National Park Service in order to protect and preserve this section of the river, which is in line with the goals of establishing the Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

Through the initiative of the NPS, the Bluestone National Scenic River is currently preserved in order to maintain the undeveloped and free-flowing river system in this part of West Virginia. Furthermore, it was cited for its remarkable scenic, natural geological, and cultural value.

Gauley River National Recreation Area

This is another unit of the national park service sites in West Virginia that is centered on a river system. This time it refers to the Gauley River that flows through the Nicholas and Fayette counties in West Virginia. This national recreation area was established in 1988 in order to protect the 25-mile portion of the river, along with a 5.5-mile segment of West Virginia’s Meadow River.

The national recreation area is a bit remote; only a few of the parts can be accessed via road. Tourists must travel via the river in order to reach this national recreation area. At the upstream end of this national recreation area is Summersville Dam. This is the only part of the national recreation area that is accessible via land vehicle. The entire property measures at 11,507 acres.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Adding to the list of national park service sites in West Virginia that is linked to a river, the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park was established in 1944. The park is located at the confluence of rivers Potomac and Shenandoah. The site of the confluence is in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. It is currently managed by the US National Park Service under the Department of Interior.

Within the site of the confluence of rivers is the historic town of Harpers Perry. This town thrived during the 19th century as the scene of the abolitionist uprising led by John Brown. The site is also famous as having been referred to by Thomas Jefferson as “one of the most stupendous scenes in nature” when he visited the passage from Potomac to the Blue Ridge.

New River Gorge National River

This unit of the national park service sites in West Virginia was established to maintain and protect the New River Gorge. The NPS-protected area was established in 1978 to cover the 53-mile stretch of the river. However, the entire area covered within this national river is estimated at 72,808 acres. Each year, more than 1.2 million tourists visit this site.

The river and its surrounding areas are part of the Appalachian Mountains. It is also a popular destination for rock climbing enthusiasts with more than 1,400 established rock climbs within the area. The main feature on the site though is the rugged, whitewater river that flows through deep canyons. It is also the oldest river in North America. Along the course of the river are several scenic sights and many recreational opportunities that bring tourists into this area.

View all the National Park Service Sites in neighboring states: National Parks in Kentucky, National Parks in Maryland, National Parks in Ohio, National Parks in Pennsylvania, National Parks in Virginia

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