New River Gorge National Park – October 4, 2021

Yesterday the weather forecast was for rain all day, and wonderment, no rain and party cloudy today. This made it quite easy to see an optimal amount of the park in one day.

We started at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center at the north end of the park as it runs along the New River. The New River drops 750 feet in 50 miles, creating a premier whitewater rafting stretch. This river is one of the oldest rivers in the world, pre-dating the Appalachian Mountains. Definitely should be a National Park, not just a National River and Preserve, which it became in 1978. In 2020 it was renamed a National Park, with National River being its main feature. The other focal point is the New River Gorge bridge spanning the river within, which is the third highest bridge at 876 feet and the longest span in the Western Hemisphere. It is impressive.

A view of the New River from the Visitor Center early morning
View of the New River Gorge Bridge from the overlook

We took way too many pictures of the bridge from different angles. There is a road that goes to the bottom of the gorge, crossing over the river and taking you up the other side. Beautiful drive and interesting to be at the bottom and look back up at the bridge too.

The National Park ranger also suggested a hike – the Endless Wall Trail. Only 2.5 miles through the forest and out to Diamond Point overlook of the river and the bridge. The trees are continuing changing into their beautiful Fall clothing, the hike was easy, there were few people on the trail, and those who were there were experienced hikers and a joy to be with. Nice.

Pictures below taken at the Overlook at Diamond Point.

Our next stop in the park is the historic town of Thurmond, WV, a stop on the rail line during the coal mining area and now a stop on the Amtrak line from Washington DC to Chicago. The town was a big center for steam engines and was thriving until steam engines were replaced in the 1940’s by diesels. The National Park is now restoring and stabilizing the remaining buildings. the drive to the town is down a 6 mile winding road through the hills and then across an old bridge over the river. Again, worth a visit.

Thurmond Train Depot

One additional area of the National Park is a must – Grandview. There is a small visitor center, hiking trails and the amazing overlook of the bend in the New River.

Now for the Grandview picture…….

Back to our hotel for the evening. We see a group on the corner waving American flags and shouting for cars to honk. These folks are real Patriots ….they are upset about the mandates recently put in affect relating to Covid-19 vaccines. I stopped to talk to a few of them….some nurses and family and friends supporting them. We live in interesting times.

This was our 63rd and presumably final National Park to visit. That’s because there are only 63 National Parks in existence. This is the second time however that we visited “the last National Park,” and we assume, God willing, there will be future last National Parks. We hear that Ocmulgee Mounds in Georgia may be the next…

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