West Virginia National Parks
West Virginia has some incredible scenery to explore and is home to one of America's newest National Parks. Come #FindYourPark in West Virginia.
West Virginia National Parks
Table of Contents
5 National Parks in West Virginia
Other NPS-Affiliated Sites in West Virginia
Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area - WV, MD
The Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area protects an area of sixteen counties spread throughout West Virginia's central Appalachian Highlands. Its aims are to "conserve, enhance, interpret, and promote a regional network of forest heritage resources." The AFNHA is a non-profit organization that works alongside the National Park Service, along with local communities to organize events, promote local tourism, and conserve the Appalachian forest, among other things. You can read more on the official AFNHA website here.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail - CT, GA, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, VT, WV
One of America's most famous trails, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches an incredible 2,180 miles and runs nearly the entire length of the eastern United States from Maine to Georgia. The trail was constructed by private citizens and completed in 1937. Today, the trail is maintained by several federal and state agencies, as well as volunteer groups.
Click here for more information on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
Bluestone National Scenic River
Designated in 1988, the Bluestone National Scenic River protects a 10.5 mile section of river in southern West Virginia and is known for its "outstandingly remarkable scenic, natural, cultural, geological, and recreational values." The Bluestone is part of the America's Wild and Scenic Rivers system and is named after the dark blue limestone that is part of the upper river. Hiking, paddling, and fishing are all popular activities here. The Bluestone National Scenic River is just a short drive south from West Virginia's first and only National Park, New River Gorge National Park.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park - DC, MD, WV
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal runs for 185 miles, and for over 100 years has connected people and places along the Potomac River with goods and services. Today, visitors can see many of these historical places along the route, as well as hike, camp, fish, and tour along the canal. There are several Visitor Centers and Park Passport Stamp locations along the canal. The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park also connects to three major trails that are part of the U.S. National Trails System: The Potomac Heritage Trail, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, and the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park was established in 1961 by President Eisenhower as a National Monument and then later designated as a National Historical Park in 1971 by President Nixon. For a list of events and activities, be sure to check out the park calendar here.
Chesapeake Bay - Chesapeake Bay Watershed, DC, DE, MD, NY, PA, VA, WV
Chesapeake Bay and its watershed encompasses 64,000 square miles of area and is the largest estuary in the United States. In 2009 by Presidential Executive Order, a broad plan was put in place to protect Chesapeake Bay and to help preserve and restore the area for future generations. With the help of other organizations, along with the National Park Service, the strategy includes the addition of 300 new public access sites by 2025, while conserving an additional 2,000,000 acres.
Visitor Centers for the park are located at the Zimmerman Center for Heritage in Wrightsville, PA, Columbia Crossing in Columbia, PA, and Sultana Education Foundation in Chestertown, MD. See findyourchesapeake.com for information on things to do.
Gauley River National Recreation Area
The Gauley River runs just north of New River Gorge National Park, and the Gauley River National Recreation Area protects about 25 miles of this free flowing river. Paddlers and whitewater enthusiasts love it for its Class V+ rapids that make it one of the most adventurous rivers in America.
In addition to the world-class boating and rafting opportunities here, visitors can also camp, hike, and fish, making Gauley River National Recreation Area an ideal spot for outdoor recreation. The Bluestone National Scenic River, along with Gauley River National Recreation Area are all managed by New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. Gauley River National Recreation Area was established in 1988.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry is nestled in the far eastern corner of West Virginia at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. It has a rich history of commerce, war, innovation, and also natural beauty. There are several sites visitors can explore in the park like Bolivar Heights, Camp Hill, Maryland Heights, or Lower Town. Each has its own story to tell.
The park is open all year, with the exception of major U.S. holidays. Be sure to check the park calendar for Ranger programs and guided tours of the park.
Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area - MD, PA, VA, WV
Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area follows the Old Carolina Road from Gettysburg in Pennsylvania to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in Albemarle County, VA, and connects communities in Maryland and West Virginia along the way. Historic sites, Civil War battlefields, and plenty of natural beauty are what's in store for visitors who decide to explore the area. The NHA is 180 miles long and about 75 miles wide. National Park Service Sites that are a part of the Heritage Area include Eisenhower National Historic Site and Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania, Fredricksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park in Virginia, and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in Maryland/West Virginia.
Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area was established in 2008, and in 2009, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Scenic Byway was established. Be sure to visit the official website here for more information.
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail - PA, OH, WV, KY, IN, ID, IL, IA, KS, MO, MT, NE, ND, OR, SD, WA
The Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail marks the historic journey by Merriweather Lewis and William Clark along 4,900 miles of wilderness from Pennsylvania all the way to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon. The Trail connects 16 states - Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon - and includes museums, landmarks, exhibits, and Visitor Centers along the route. For a complete list of markers and things to see and do, click here.
National Coal Heritage Area
Coal mining still plays a prominent role in West Virginia, and the National Coal Heritage Area aims to preserve and protect the stories and culture surrounding this important part of West Virginian history. The National Coal Heritage Area encompasses thirteen counties in southern West Virginia - Boone, Cabell, Fayette, Logan, McDowell, Mercer, Mingo, Raleigh, Summers, Wayne, Lincoln, Wyoming, and Cabin Creek and Paint Creek in Kanawha County. It is was created in 2002 and is administered by the National Coal Heritage Area Authority. You can learn more at their official website here.
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
Established in December of 2020, New River Gorge National Park is one of America's newest parks. Formerly the New River Gorge National River, New River Gorge is a whitewater paradise, providing some of the best whitewater for paddlers and rafters anywhere. Rapids range anywhere from I and II, to challenging III and IV, and there's an adventure here for everyone to enjoy.
The park is in the center of coal country, so it includes several historical sites highlighting the area's coal-mining history. Visitors can tour many of them via the 83-mile New River Gorge Scenic Drive. Be sure to take the Fayette Station drive for amazing views of the park's signature landmark, the New River Gorge Bridge.
The New River Gorge Bridge was completed in 1977 and dominates the skyline of the park. It's the 3rd-tallest bridge in the United States and also the longest steel span in the U.S. Be sure to hike the Canyon Rim Boardwalk down to the bridge overlook where you'll get some great views of this incredible piece of engineering.
Read more about visiting New River Gorge National Park here.
Wheeling National Heritage Area
Wheeling sits along the Ohio River and is considered to be the birthplace of West Virginia. The site is managed by Wheeling Heritage and has worked to restore and revitalize Wheeling's riverfront, Mt. Wood Cemetery, West Virginia’s oldest extant cemetery, the Capitol Theater, and other historically significant buildings and structures.