Friday, January 22, 2021

New River Gorge is Now a National Park and Preserve

Congress has redesignated New River Gorge National River as New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. This new name highlights the park’s spectacular features and other national park qualities as well as its traditional recreational opportunities. The new law also allows for the expansion of this natural and recreational treasure.

“I am thrilled that this designation will raise awareness of the great natural resources in my home state and the many opportunities available for outdoor recreation and exploration,” said Margaret Everson, Counselor to the Secretary, exercising the delegated authority of the National Park Service Director. “My love of conservation and the outdoors stems from lifelong experiences hiking, fishing, hunting and camping in West Virginia. Today’s announcement will inspire more people to discover New River Gorge and enjoy the benefits of time spent in nature.”

Legislation to redesignate this unit of the National Park System was spearheaded by U.S. Senator Joseph Manchin (D-WV), U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and U.S. Representative Carol Miller (R-WV) and included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal 2021, enacted in December. The name change was supported by the State of West Virginia Governor's office, county and municipal governments, the tourism industry and local communities.

“The New River Gorge is one of West Virginia's most cherished playgrounds. The whitewater rafting, hunting, fishing, outdoor sports and natural beauty make it one of our most robust tourist attractions. This new designation will highlight West Virginia’s unparalleled beauty and resources thereby increasing the international recognition. Over the last two years we have met with outdoorsmen, businesses and local leaders and other interested groups to ensure this designation will promote the beauty and rich history of the New River Gorge, while ensuring that the longstanding traditions of hunting and fishing are protected for generations to come,” said Senator Manchin.

“The New River Gorge is such an important part of West Virginia and a real source of pride in our state. I am thrilled my legislation redesignating the National River as a National Park and Preserve was included in the legislative package that became law at the end of last year. Redesignation of the National River to a National Park and Preserve will shine a brighter light on West Virginia and all that it has to offer, and provide another catalyst for our tourism industry and local businesses. I’m grateful to all of the West Virginians—sportsmen, business owners, and constituents—for their feedback and involvement during this entire process. Throughout all of these discussions, it has become clear that this redesignation would bring enormous benefits to the region and those who call it home. As West Virginians, we all know that the New River Gorge is perhaps the best-known landmark in West Virginia because of its breathtaking natural beauty and elements of unique Appalachian history and culture. This designation will allow more people to share in the wild and wonderful adventure West Virginians take so much pride in, and I know it will be treasured and enjoyed for generations to come,” said Senator Capito.

A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. The national park and preserve includes more than 70,000 acres of land along the river which showcase the cultural and natural history of the area.

The new law also expands the abundance of available recreational opportunities. Approximately 90 percent of the land is in the national preserve which permits hunting, a traditional use of the area, including 368 acres in the formerly off-limits Grandview area. The law also allows for the possibility of purchasing an additional 3,700 acres of land to add to the preserve in the future.

The 53-mile stretch of the New River between Bluestone and Hawk's Nest Dams became a unit of the National Park System in November 1978. The park is administered together with the Gauley River National Recreation Area and Bluestone National Scenic River which were both established in 1988. The combined sites span five counties in southern West Virginia: Fayette, Nicholas, Raleigh, Summers and Mercer attract more than one million visitors annually. In 2019, park visitors spent more than $60 million in nearby communities, which supported 846 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to local economies of $70 million.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Greenbrier Road Sections Temporarily Closed for Bridge Replacement

Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced last week that Ramsey Prong Road and Greenbrier Road, past the Greenbrier Picnic Area, will be temporarily closed to all motorists and pedestrians from today through Friday, March 26. The picnic area will remain open and accessible throughout the closure period.

Ramsey Cascades Trail, Porters Creek Trail, and Backcountry Campsite 31 will also be closed through March 26 due to lack of access to these trailheads. Old Settlers, Brushy Mountain, and Grapeyard Ridge Trail will remain open, but hikers will not be able to access these trails from the Greenbrier area during the closure and should plan their routes carefully.

The full closure of these roadways to both pedestrians and motorists is necessary to efficiently and safely replace the Ramsey Prong Road bridge. Crews will be operating heavy equipment along the roads and using road sections as staging areas for materials. This work is part of a larger Federal Highway Administration project to replace seven bridges and repair seven others across the park.

For more information about temporary road closures, please visit the park website at http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/temproadclose.htm.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Our Online Trail Guides Are Here to Help With All Your Hiking Plans

With the start of a new year, I wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for your continuing support of our online hiking trail guides for the four national parks we cover:

HikingintheSmokys.com

HikinginGlacier.com

TetonHikingTrails.com

RockyMountainHikingTrails.com

If you plan to visit any of these parks this year, or anytime in the future, be sure to visit our websites to find the most comprehensive information on the best day hiking destinations in each of these parks. Our various trail directories and lists of top hikes will help you easily drill down to find the best hikes suited to your abilities and preferences. You may also want to note that we continue to add new hikes to each ofour sites, thus providing you with more options to help find new adventures.

In addition to our online trail guides, our websites also provide Accommodations and Things To Do listings to help with all your vacation planning. You can help support our websites by clicking and visiting our advertisers' websites, and using the services of these local businesses that have been hit hard by the shutdowns over the past year.

You can also support our websites by shopping from any of our affiliate links, including REI and Amazon.

Again, thank you very much!



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Smokies Recruits Volunteers for Monitoring Program

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is recruiting volunteers to monitor visitor use patterns in several of the most popular locations in the park in both North Carolina and Tennessee. Volunteers may choose to participate in a variety of opportunities that best align with their interests and preferred locations. Opportunities include recording observations on popular hiking trails, monitoring parking availability, and monitoring traffic flow patterns at busy locations.

Monitoring data will be used to provide park managers with timely and accurate information about current visitor use patterns and resource conditions at a variety of sites including Clingmans Dome, Deep Creek, Big Creek, Cades Cove, Laurel Falls Trail, Alum Cave Trail, Rainbow Falls Trail, and Trillium Gap Trail. Park visitation has increased by more than 30% over the last decade, resulting in crowding and congestion at some of the most popular destinations. Additionally, issues like roadside parking have become increasingly commonplace, leading to damage along the road shoulders and potentially unsafe conditions as visitors walk along busy roads from their cars to the intended destinations. This monitoring data will help managers develop recommendations for safety and access improvement proposals. Each volunteer is asked to work at least one, four-hour shift per week during peak visitation season from April through the November. Training will be offered virtually in March. Interested volunteers should email Kendra Straub, Management and Program Analyst, at kendra_straub@nps.gov. For more information about visitation in the Smokies, please visit www.nps.gov/grsm/VES.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Monday, January 11, 2021

Blue Ridge Parkway Announces Linville River Bridge Repairs

National Park Service officials announced last week that a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway from Milepost 316.5 to Milepost 317.5 will close as contractors start a rehabilitation project at the historic Linville River Bridge. Detours signs will be in place to direct travelers around this area beginning at Milepost 312.5, routing park visitors around the project site via NC Route 181 and US Route 221. Access to Linville Falls visitor center, camping, and hiking activities will be available from the north at NC Route 181, near Pineola.

During this project, which is expected to last through the summer of 2021, both lanes at the project site, from Milepost 316.5 to 317.5, will be closed to all activity (cars, bicycles, and hikers) to ensure the safety of Parkway visitors and staff. This work requires equipment and workers to remain in the travel lanes during these activities.

The Linville River Bridge rehabilitation project includes repairs to the bridge’s drainage system, installation of a new waterproofing system, reconstruction of the paving, walks and curbs, and rehabilitation of the extensive stonework on the bridge and guard walls.

For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/blri/planyourvisit/roadclosures.htm.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Camping in Tennessee Soars During Pandemic

Camping in the last two months reached historic highs in Tennessee State Parks.

The parks saw 62,124 nights camping in October, a one-month record for camping stays in the system, topping the mark of 57,472 nights set in June 2020. November saw over 36,000 camping nights sold, the highest number for November ever and exceeding November 2019 by 15,000 nights.

Four of the top 10 camping months ever in the state parks have occurred in 2020, driven by visitors seeking the outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The impact of COVID-19 simply underscores a growing awareness that the outdoors are a sanctuary for mental and physical health,” Jim Bryson, deputy commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, said. “The appeal of louder, busier, and crowded entertainment venues has given way to the space, freedom and connection the outdoors provide.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated outdoor recreation trends that have steadily grown over the last several years. Statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis released recently show the outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the United States for 2019. In Tennessee, outdoor recreation value added as a share of GDP was 2.4 percent.

July 2020 saw 56,033 camping nights sold in Tennessee State Parks, which makes June, July and October of this year the top three months ever recorded. September saw 48,350 camping nights sold, making it the sixth best month ever, following July 2019 (49,217) and October 2016 (49,003). The November total for 2020 was the overall 32nd best month ever.

Tennessee State Parks operate over 3,000 campsites ranging from RV sites with full hookups to backcountry spots deep in the woods.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

New Protections for McAfee Knob, Appalachian Trail Access

One of the most famous vistas on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), McAfee Knob, has been given additional protection with the acquisition of three tracts of land near Roanoke.

This effort, led by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), The Conservation Fund and the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club (RATC), will add almost 600 acres of permanently protected land to the area. These acquisitions will help preserve iconic views from McAfee Knob, improve access to the Trail and provide greater conservation of the surrounding area.

The protection of these properties builds on the acquisition and conservation of the Hogan Hollow tract in 2019, which is located below the nearby and similarly renowned Tinker Cliffs. The ongoing work to conserve lands in the viewshed of McAfee Knob represents the dedication and collaboration of multiple partners to protect and improve the A.T. experience at one of Virginia’s most beloved outdoor destinations.

Early in 2020, the ATC and RATC began a fundraising campaign for the acquisition and restoration of a property adjacent to the McAfee Knob trailhead on Route 311. RATC raised over $44,000 from hundreds of individual donations from Roanoke Valley residents and trail lovers across the county. While the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately halted these efforts, the voluntary stewardship agreement signed between the ATC, The Conservation Fund and Mountain Valley Pipeline, LLC provided the remainder of funds needed to purchase the McAfee Knob trailhead property. This tract will now be included in an ongoing study to improve safety and the visitor experience at the Route 311 parking area.

Utilizing additional funds from the agreement and in partnership with the ATC, The Conservation Fund acquired a 197-acre property along Blacksburg Road, where the Trail was located on a narrow easement. An additional 353-acre parcel was also secured just below the famed McAfee Knob summit, adding to the conserved land in the shadow of this famed viewpoint along the Trail.

These conservation efforts will significantly improve access, help conserve the world’s most famous footpath and protect views that millions of visitors have come to love. Special thanks go to the private landowners who chose to work with the ATC, RATC and The Conservation Fund to preserve the unique character of the Catawba Valley and the A.T. landscape.

“Protecting the areas surrounding McAfee Knob is a clear example of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s focus on conserving the areas essential to the unique experience the Appalachian Trail provides,” said Sandra Marra, president and CEO of the ATC. “Land conservation is an essential element of our work, helping ensure the ecosystems and inspiring views the Trail is known for are available for all of us to enjoy and benefit from for centuries to come.”

For more information about the ATC’s land conservation work, please click here.



Jeff
HikingintheSmokys.com
RockyMountainHikingTrails.com
HikinginGlacier.com
TetonHikingTrails.com

Ramble On: A History of Hiking
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Grand Teton National Park