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2016 New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend
April 22, 2016 - April 25, 2016
Spring in West Virginia highlights one of the earth’s greatest natural treasures, the biologically diverse southern Appalachian forests. Next weekend’s Thirteen Annual New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend is a celebration of this amazing natural heritage, April 22 – 24, 2016. Each public program highlights the glories of the season and our shared stewardship of these natural treasures in New River Gorge National River, the state parks of Babcock, Carnifex Ferry Battlefield, Pipestem Resort, and Twin Falls Resort, and at Tamarack. This year’s schedule also includes some special pre-event arts workshops. The complete event program schedule is listed below and is available online at http://www.nps.gov/neri/planyourvisit/wildflower-weekend.htm.
So what is so special about this area, the cause for such celebration? The New River Gorge area has the most diverse flora of any river gorge in central Appalachia. New River Gorge National River and area West Virginia State Parks help preserve this unbroken and globally significant section of the Appalachian forest ecosystem. Besides providing essential habitat for endangered mammals, rare birds and amphibians, a dedicated botanist can find over 1400 species of plants in these park sites.
The reason for this diversity of plants stems from the varied topography of the gorge, the northern flow of the New River that provides a pathway for southern plants to migrate and grow along the warmer sheltered riverbanks, and the higher elevations of the gorge that provide habitat for northern species.
In the New River Gorge, spring begins with the first solitary bloom of a skunk cabbage, bloodroot, or trout lily by the riverside in early March. April offers a forest carpeted with wake robin and great trillium, dutchman’s breeches, and Virginia bluebell, and the understory alive with redbud and dogwood. The finale has showy displays of Catawba rhododendron, flame azalea, Fraser magnolia, and tulip poplar into the last days of May. With over 72,000 acres of protected habitat, New River Gorge is a haven for a great diversity of both plants and animals. These public parks are places any of us can explore to discover such wonders, especially during events like New River Gorge Wildflower Weekend.
All programs are FREE are free unless otherwise noted. Bring water and wear sturdy walking shoes for guided walks. Snacks, binoculars, a hand lens, and a favorite field guide are also useful. Advanced reservations are requested for the pre-event arts workshops, Garlic Mustard Pulls and the Hike Into Spring! at Grandview. Phone numbers to make reservations for these programs are listed below.
Here is the program schedule for this year’s event:
Pre-event Arts Workshops and Arts Exhibits:
April 19, 2016
West Virginia Wildflower Painting Party
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm Hosted by 110 Marshall Cost: $35
Location: 110 Marshall Studio, 110 Marshall Ave. in Beckley, West Virginia
Come celebrate West Virginia’s beautiful wildflowers with a guided painting party at studio 110, the pARTy studio at 110 Marshall. Award winning instructor Sandy Shaw will guide you step by step in all the techniques to create a memorable piece of art with acrylic paint on canvas. No experience or supplies needed. Reservation required by April 15. Class is limited to 25 students. Call 304-634-8367
Wildflower Macro-photography Workshop
Hosted by Beckley Camera Club Cost: Free
Learn and practice the art of macro-photography in this two-part, hands-on workshop. Learn the skills, then practice these skills in the field with park wildflowers as your subject. No experience needed.
Supplies needed: camera with macro settings (SLR camera best) and a tripod.
Reservation required by April 19. Class is limited to 20 students. Call 304-253-9226
– April 21, 2016 (workshop part 1 – classroom)
Time: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm Location: Beckley Arts Center, 600 Johnstown Rd. in Beckley, WV
– April 24, 2016 (workshop part 2 – field)
Time: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm Location: Glade Creek trailhead on Glade Creek Access Road in New River Gorge National River near Prince, WV
April 1 through 28, 2016
Youth Arts in the Parks 2016 Appalachian Spring Wildflower Art Contest Exhibit
8:00 am to 8:00 pm daily, art exhibits in the theater lobby of the Hulett C. Smith Theater and the David L. Dickirson Fine Arts Gallery. Students from Fayette, Nicholas, and Raleigh Counties celebrate regional ecology through art in this special exhibit. Each work was inspired by an area wildflower.
April 22, 23, and 24, 2016
Afternoon with the Artists
10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily, artist studios and on site at Tamarack. Come and go as you please to see how nature inspires artists. Tamarack artists Steve Lilly, Gayle Rancer, and David Bragg demonstrate their skills.
Main event programs:
Friday, April 22, 2016
Handy Work for Earth Day: Garlic Mustard Pull
Celebrate Earth Day and lend a helping hand to the natural forest. Team up with park staff to help remove a troublesome invasive plant species, garlic mustard. Wear long sleeves, long pants, sturdy walking shoes, work gloves, and bring water. Reservations requested by April 20
– 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Glade Creek trailhead on Glade Creek Access Road in New River Gorge National River near Prince, WV. Call 304-465-6534 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
– 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Pipestem Resort State Park in Pipestem, WV. Meet at the Canyon Rim Center (top of the tram). Call 304-466-1800 ex. 344
Twin Falls Spring Nature Explosion
12:00 pm to 3:00 pm, lobby of Twin Falls Lodge at Twin Falls Resort State Park in Mullens, WV. Enjoy an afternoon of Earth Day crafts, nature games, and activities for the entire family.
Wildflower ID 101: Basic Field Guide Skills
5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, Stone Cliff Trail near Thurmond, WV. Learn and practice the basics of wildflower identification. Bring your favorite wildflower field guide for a close-up look at spring blossoms on this leisurely 2 mile forest walk along the New River. Some field guides will be available.
Youth Arts in the Parks Performance Celebration
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm, auditorium at Tamarack in Beckley, WV. See how nature has inspired performance arts in this celebration of ecology through art. Featured southern West Virginia youth artists include Dance It! Dance Studio, Nicholas County High School Choir, School of Harmony, and Summers Middle School Kids in Dramatic Studies.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Early Birding at Grandview
7:30 am to 8:30 am, Grandview – Shelter #4 at New River Gorge National River in Grandview, WV. Bring your binoculars and get an early start with the avian neighbors. Binoculars will be available.
Hike Into Spring!
9:00 am to 1:30 pm, Grandview – Shelter #4 at New River Gorge National River in Grandview, WV. Join naturalists on a leisurely 2.5 mile hike from Grandview down to the New River, finding wildflowers and other natural wonders along the way. Be prepared for some steep terrain as we travel down an old dirt road. A free return shuttle will be provided. Reservations requested by April 20; call 304-466-0417
Explore Nature’s Bouquet Hike
3:30 pm to 5:00 pm, lobby of Twin Falls Lodge at Twin Falls Resort State Park in Mullens, WV. Explore a variety of habitats on this ¾ mile hike on the Buck Run Trail. Be prepared for some steep terrain.
Old Growth Ecology Hike
3:30 pm to 5:30 pm, Patterson House at Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park in Summersville, WV. Explore the old growth forest ecology of Pierson Hollow in the Gauley River Gorge, a rare thing to find these days. Be prepared for a leisurely 1 mile hike with some moderate terrain.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Spring Birding at Babcock
8:00 am to 9:30 am, Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park in Clifftop, WV. Stroll the diverse habitats of Babcock in search of region beauties—birds. Binoculars will be available.
Falls & Flowers: the Nature of Brush Creek
+ Bluestone Bonus
1:00 pm to 4:30 pm, nature center at Pipestem Resort State Park in Pipestem, WV. Enjoy beautiful waterfalls and blooms along Brush Creek on this moderate 3 mile round trip walk. Meet at Pipestem’s Nature Center to car caravan to the trailhead. Add an extra mile on a hike to the mouth of Brush Creek to the Bluestone River, a nice hike addition for the New River Gorge 100 Mile Challenge.
Basic Wildflower Photography
2:30 pm to 4:30 pm, Canyon Rim Visitor Center in Lansing, WV. Come and go as you please for this informal mini-photography workshop. Learn hot tips of close-up nature photography as you try your hand at this art form. Starter cameras will be available, plus you’ll get to print out a photo.
National Park Nature Adventure Tales Around the Campfire
7:30 pm to 9:00 pm, Burnwood Day Use Area in Lansing, WV (directly across highway 19 from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and just north of the New River Gorge Bridge). Join rangers for tales of adventure in nature and national parks. Bring some of your favorite 5 minute park stories to swap too, as we celebrate the National Park Service Centennial. Bring a camp chair or blanket and your favorite campfire snack. Meet at the picnic shelter on the left.