New River Gorge for Nature Lovers

In an outdoor playground as immense and treasured as the New River Gorge, springtime serves as a great reminder to appreciate the environment around us! Rolling rivers, abundant forests, sandstone cliffs and stunning vistas — the Gorge is renowned for its scenic beauty and the recreational activities it offers. This month, join us in celebrating the flora and fauna that make our area so special. 

2021 Spring Nature Fling

Celebrate spring in Appalachia and explore a rainbow of colors in the New River Gorge at the 2021 Spring Nature Fling, happening in April and May. Our national and state parks will be blooming with fun activities such as guided hikes, art demonstrations and botany exhibits. Enjoy the free ranger-guided hikes that span from the rim of the Gorge to the edge of the river. The heavily forested New River Gorge is home to a wide range of plants, and spring reveals the gleaming floral diversity of the region. Learn how to spot petals like Dutchman’s breeches, flame azalea, fairy bells, catawba rhododendrons and more! Activities will be held in the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, Tamarack and several state parks in the area. To complete your weekend and stay close to the excitement, book a stay at Hawks Nest or Babcock State Park

New River Birding & Nature Festival 

The New River Birding & Nature Festival is a week-long event perfect for an avid birdwatcher or just a curious beginner. Since 2002, this annual festival has taken place in and around the New River Gorge and highlights more than 100 avian species on a variety of birding tours. 

“This area is considered to be a crucial stopover habitat for migrating birds, such as the golden-winged warbler, blue-winged warbler, Swainson’s warbler and scarlet tanager,” said Rachel Davis, co-coordinator of the festival. 

Davis mentions that these birds, especially the Swainson warbler and the Cerulean warbler, are highly sought out by birdwatchers across the nation, and we have them here in our region. 

“There are places in the country that you can go and see many of these birds all at once during migration weeks, but in the New River Gorge, you can watch these birds on their nesting grounds actually building their nests,” Davis says. 

The festival begins on Sunday, April 25 and runs until May 1. The schedule includes a large opening “Good News” discussion with several well-known trip leaders and nature enthusiasts, early morning Facebook Live birding events, pre-recorded educational videos by surprise virtual trip leaders, raffles and more. Visit the festival’s Facebook page for a full list of events. This year’s festival will follow the same virtual setup as last year. 

“This year and last year our event moved to a virtual platform, which is awesome because even more people can attend,” Davis said. “People who couldn’t make it to the physical event have an opportunity to get a glimpse at what it might be like when they do get to come.”

All skill levels are welcomed and encouraged to attend the festival. Visit the New River Birding & Natural Festival’s website for more information on the event. 

Foraging in the Gorge

There is a world-class ecosystem in our background! After you are finished exploring the wildflowers in our parks, discover the variety of trees and plant species pocketed throughout our forests. There is typically a 1,000-foot elevation difference between the river bottom and the adjacent plateau in the Gorge, which creates a diverse habitat. Spend an afternoon foraging and spot some flavorful favorites growing in the wild. Appalachian delicacies like ramps and morels can be found throughout the Gorge, as well as sweet fruits like wineberries and persimmons. Learn more about these delights in our new 2021 Visitors Guide. Request your own copy to bring with you on your foraging outing. 

Earth Day Celebrations

Here in the Gorge, Earth Day isn’t just observed one day a year — it’s an everyday celebration! Join us all month long for the Fayette County Earth Day Celebration. From photo scavenger hunts to community clean-ups, find a way to get involved this April. 

Whether you are a nature lover, lifelong birding fan or just wanting to admire the beautiful scenery of the New River Gorge, this month is the perfect time to visit our area!