CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The nation’s newest national park has been named the best place for families to vacation by Outside magazine.
The New River Gorge, located in Fayette County, has been named Best Family Trip in the U.S. by the national travel magazine. Department of Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby and West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced the publication's decision at a news conference on Wednesday.
“We were thrilled to hear of this news,” said Ruby. “When folks are planning their vacations, they look to publications like Outside to help them decide where to go.”
Each year, Outside selects a new destination and a runner-up for numerous travel categories. This year, West Virginia earned the top award in the magazine’s family vacation destinations category.
"West Virginia's slogan more than lives up to its name," Outside's deputy editor and travel director Mary Turner said in a release. "There's an abundance of spectacular public lands to explore all over the state, including the New River Gorge.”
In December 2020, the New River Gorge National River was re-designated the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve. This made the Fayetteville destination – which was formerly a state park – the nation’s 63rd national park.
The New River Gorge offers a number of outdoor activities, including whitewater rafting, rock climbing and hiking trails. It is also the site of the New River Gorge Bridge, one of the most photographed places in West Virginia.
“We chose the park as the winner for best family adventure in the U.S. because it has so many recreational opportunities for every age and expertise level,” Turner said.
Outside’s recognition of the New River Gorge is the latest in a series of accolades for the newly-appointed national park. In recent years, publications like National Geographic, Frommer’s, TIME and AFAR have all labeled the New River Gorge a must-visit destination. Other West Virginia destinations have been featured in Condé Nast, Lonely Planet, CNN and Forbes in recent months.
“I’m just thrilled to see even more national recognition for West Virginia,” Justice, the state’s governor, said. “The outside world is finally figuring out what we’ve known for far too long. West Virginia is an incredible place, and I’ve loved watching as the rest of the world has started discovering this fact over the past several years.”