Did you know you can visit 3 national parks here?

We have 3 national parks, just around the corner! Our wild gorges and mountains have some of the best recreational rivers in the country. In fact, the National Park Service calls 3 local parks “outstandingly remarkable” attractions.

Let’s take a look at these parks:

Bluestone National Scenic River

There is plenty to Do in Mercer County, WV

Imagine cobalt water encompassed by miles of emerald forests. That’s Bluestone National Scenic River, a protected section of wilderness 10.5 miles long. Its striking blue depths ripple past Appalachian trees: beech, hemlock, sycamore and river birch.

Sit under the cool, shady canopies and wait for animals to appear. You might meet beavers, great blue herons, deer or newts. With luck, you’ll find a hellbender— a giant, elusive Appalachian salamander!

Like to fish? The Bluestone is a high quality warm-water stream, so look for bass, walleye, sunfish, catfish and muskellunge.

Gauley River National Recreation Area

Get ready for 25 miles of pulse-pounding action! The Gauley River has some of the wildest whitewater rafting in America.

Rampaging rapids like Pillow Rock and Iron Ring attract adventurers from all around the world. Swirls of disorder keep things interesting. Pools suddenly erupt into tantrums and rocks jut up from the riverbed unexpectedly.

But you can also find quiet moments. Go camping and catch-and-release trout, smallmouth bass, walleye and more. Or, go for a hike and admire the scenery— the river gorge carves into striking, irregular terrain.

Such a secluded area attracts plenty of wildlife and fosters plant growth. Shady hemlocks, oaks and beech trees lure rare animals like Allegheny woodrats and finescale saddled darters.

New River Gorge National River

Meet one of the oldest rivers on the planet. 53 miles of it shoot through this protected park, which boasts famous rafting opportunities.

Try the calm Upper portion. Rapids only go up to Class 3, so beginners can give whitewater a try. If you’re a skilled rafter, give the Lower a spin. Class 3 to 5 rapids pose challenges like rocks and muscular currents.

Enjoy primitive camping? New River has 7 sites near the water, so it’s easy to unpack fishing or boating gear. Then, hit the hills— or trails. 70,000 acres contain one adventure after another— all you have to do is pick an activity and go from there. Explore an abandoned mine or sit in front of a gushing waterfall.

Love climbing? New River is your one-stop shop. Adventurers head here from all over to try 1,400 climbing sites, many of which are 5.9 or harder. From sandstone slabs to intimidating cliffs, there is a challenge for everyone.

Which park is your favorite?

Sam Babcock