FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — Back in December of 2020, the New River Gorge was designated as a National Park and Preserve. Since then, Southern West Virginia has seen an increase in visitors.

“We have been seeing an increase in visitation and are certainly expecting an increase this year, not only just more visitors coming through here, but we’re definitely seeing a lot more using the facilities in the park like campgrounds and hiking trails, the campgrounds have been a lot busier,” Dave Bieri, District Supervisor at the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, said.

Right now, the Canyon Rim Visitors Center in Fayette County is the only visitors center open, but the others are opening Memorial Day weekend. Bieri said over the last month, the interest in the National Park skyrocketed.

“We’re seeing much more National Park type visitors that have been to lots of other parks and more visitors from out of states,” Bieri said.

Bieri said the history of the area also draws a lot of people to visit.

“We have people that are really into the history here. Visit the place like Thurmond to see the old railroad town down there,” Bieri said.

The New River Gorge National Park & Preserve spans four counties in Southern West Virginia.