Escape To Nature In The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

With over 70,000 acres of diverse wildlife, an array of local flora and fauna and an abundance of scenic areas, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is a haven for nature enthusiasts. As April plays host to numerous popular environmental events, the Gorge is the ultimate destination to participate in the celebrations. Whether you’re a seasoned nature lover or just looking for a way to connect with the great outdoors, here are some ways to honor our environment this month. 

Earth Day

Home to rushing rivers, lush forests, towering sandstone walls and awe-inspiring vistas, the New River Gorge is a natural wonderland. This beloved destination is celebrated not just for its incredible beauty, but also for the endless recreational opportunities it provides. 

Here in the Gorge, we take our commitment to the environment seriously and strive to honor and preserve this precious resource. This month we invite you to join us for a county-wide Earth Day celebration. Participate in the Earth Day Photo Scavenger Hunt with photo-op stops in different communities in the New River Gorge. Post your photos on social media and use #EarthFayette23 for a chance to win awesome prizes! Additionally, help out at the community clean-up on April 21 in Ansted. 

We fully believe that Earth Day should be celebrated year-round, whether it’s hiking uncrowded trails, picking up litter on your own or trying to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle. Every little bit counts!

Arbor Day

As we celebrate Earth Day and reflect on the significance of our surroundings, it’s important to remember the vital role that trees play in our environment. That’s why, just a few days after Earth Day, Arbor Day is acknowledged on April 28. This special day is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of trees and the critical role they play in sustaining our planet. From providing vital oxygen and clean air to supporting wildlife habitats and preventing erosion, trees are essential to the health and well-being of our ecosystem.

The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is home to a wide group of tree species, thanks to its location in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. Some of the most common tree species found in the park include eastern hemlock, red spruce, white pine, red oak, sugar maple, yellow poplar and more. These trees, along with many others, provide essential habitats for wildlife, help to purify the air we breathe and contribute to the beauty and biodiversity of our park.

Whether it’s Arbor Day or any other time of the year, make a meaningful contribution to your community by cleaning up a public park, tending to the trees around you or planting new saplings in your neighborhood.

National Park Week 

In addition, this month also marks the arrival of National Park Week, running from April 22 to April 30. National Park Week is an annual event celebrated throughout the United States to promote and showcase the beauty and importance of our country’s national parks. Celebrate the week at America’s newest national park – the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is to explore its many scenic trails. Take a hike on a popular route that leads to stunning views like Endless Wall Trail or Long Point Trail. Or explore historic sites on the Kaymoor Miners Trail or Tipple Trail

You can even participate in a ranger-led program. The park offers a variety of ranger-led programs throughout the week, such as guided hikes, wildlife spotting and educational programs. Check the park’s schedule to see what programs are available during your visit. Stop by the Canyon Rim Visitor Center to learn more about the park’s history, geology and wildlife. The visitor center also has interactive exhibits and a bookstore. And don’t forget to follow along on social media every day of the week. We will be posting prompts on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Local Flora and Fauna

Springtime in the New River Gorge brings with it an extraordinary opportunity to witness the park’s rich biodiversity, as a vast range of plant and animal species come to life in their full glory. Head out on a hike to find some of our favorite wildflowers, including Virginia bluebells (delicate blue and pink flowers that bloom in early spring and can be found along the banks of the New River), trout lily (small, yellow flowers named for their resemblance to a trout’s scales), Dutchman’s breeches (white flowers that resemble tiny pantaloons and bloom in early spring in moist, shaded areas) and redbud trees (small trees that produce vibrant, pinkish-purple blossoms). 

There’s also a world-class ecosystem right in our backyard! In addition to the beautiful wildflowers that grace our parks, there is an abundance of diverse trees and plant species tucked away in our forests. With a 1,000-foot elevation difference between the river bottom and the adjacent plateau in the Gorge, there is a wide range of habitats to explore. Take some time to forage and discover flavorful favorites growing in the wild. Throughout the area, you can find Appalachian delicacies like ramps and morels, as well as sweet fruits like wineberries and persimmons. 

New River Birding & Nature Festival 

Mark your calendars for the New River Birding & Nature Festival taking place from May 1 to May 6. This annual event is ideal for both experienced birdwatchers and beginners who are curious about the world of birds. For over two decades, the festival has been held in and around the New River Gorge, featuring over 100 bird species on various birding tours. Make sure to plan ahead to attend this unique birding festival. If you can’t attend, the New River Birding & Nature Festival will be live-streamed on Facebook so you can enjoy it from anywhere! 

There is no better time to explore the beauty of the New River Gorge. Browse our lodging options to start planning your upcoming trip.