Study shows rock climbing brings millions of dollars to New River Gorge each year

Fayette County

A study by the Outdoor Industry Association highlights the economic impact of rock climbing. 

Just before noon on a Wednesday in February, Kenny Parker said his Rock Climbing store in Fayetteville already had a busy day. 

A recent study by the Outdoor Industry Association stated rock climbing brings in over $12 million annually to the New River Gorge. Parker said that is because we are sitting on world-class rock that climbers from all over are dying to get their hands on. 

“It’s like international destination type rock climbing,” Parker said. “If you polled climbers all over the world and told them to list the top ten climbing areas in the world, the New River Gorge would be on that list.”

According to Parker, what sets the New River apart from other rock climbing destinations is its miles and miles of the highest quality pristine Sandstone in the world. It also provides a diverse range of different types of climbing in close proximity to civilization. 

Mindy Wriston, the Travel Specialist at the New River Gorge Visitor’s Bureau, said being an international climbing destination is huge asset for the economy. 

“When they come here they’re staying in our hotels, they’re staying in our campgrounds, our B&Bs, they’re eating in our restaurants, and they’re shopping,” Wriston explained.

The study shows climbers support 168 jobs in the region, and Parker said the impact goes beyond seasonal tourism.

“There’s a lot of potential for a year-round rock climbing business,” Parker said. “We are open all year long, we’ve been open 362 days a year since 1994 so we established ourselves early on as not just a tourist business, we are here in the community and part of the community, and we are able to do that, largely because of rock climbing.”

Parker said the study is an example of the economic value of tourism and outdoor sports. 

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