The Mountainous Beauties of West Virginia
On Day #28 of our 30-day, 9376 mile, road trip to see more of America we visited both the New River Gorge Bridge and the Grandview Park in Fayetteville and Beckley West Virginia.
The New River Gorge Bridge is a 3,031 foot long bridge that’s 876 feet above the New River. When construction was completed on 22 October 1977 the drive across the gorge was reduced from 45 minutes on winding mountain roads to less than a minute. The bridge is the longest steel span bridge in the Western Hemisphere and the third highest bridge in the United States, and is made out of Cor-ten steel, which has a rust-like appearance that doesn’t need painting. The bridge was even selected as the image for West Virginia on the 2006 commemorative State Quarter series released by the US Mint.
73,000-acres of the West Virginia canyon was designated as the “New River Gorge National River” in 1978, and will be upgraded to “National Park and Preserve” in 2021; one of only five such designations from the National Park Service (the other 4 are all in Alaska: Denali, Glacier Bay, Katmai and Wrangell-St. Elias). Although this new designation will create a 7,021-acre park in the center of the gorge around the existing Visitor’s Center, and will designate the other 65,165 acres as a national preserve which will allow for backcountry hunting, the management of what will become the 63rd US National Park should essentially be the same as it was for the river.
Located approximately 40 miles (~50 minutes) South of the New Gorge Bridge (six miles after getting off of I-64 at Exit 129) is the 52 acre Grandview Park. Built in 1939 as a day park, and significantly upgraded by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) who built roads, shelters, and a picnic area during the Great Depression, the park provides some of the most dramatic views of the New River and is a popular place for hiking and sightseeing. Originally part of the West Virginia State Park system, it was transferred to the National Park Service in 1990. From the Main Overlook, which is 1,400 feet above the river, you can see more than seven miles of the New River and its surrounding forests. There are even better views from the Turkey Spur Path. Wildlife abounds and the vistas are pristine.
The New River Gorge Bridge is a stunning architectural achievement and the views of it, and those in the Grandview Park are spectacular – well worth the trip (click on any photo to start the slideshow):
If you want to learn more about the New River Gorge Bridge and Grandview Park here are a few links to check out:
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