Oklahoma woman makes stop in W.Va on mission to see all 63 National Parks

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve(WVVA)
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 5:05 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GLEN JEAN, W.Va. (WVVA) - Mandy Bourne is a long way from home. She’s made her way from Wagoner, Oklahoma, to West Virginia.

“I’ve never been to West Virginia before.” Bourne shared. “It’s beautiful; It’s overwhelming. Everything is just large. I love it.”

New River Gorge is one of five National Parks Bourne and her friends are visiting this week alone. So far, she’s seen 17.

But her goal is to travel to all 63 of America’s National Parks.

“I’ve always loved nature, but when I found out that National Parks were a thing, I knew that I had to accomplish it- I had to visit every single one. So, I started a bucket list and started visiting.”

Since its National Park designation in December of 2020, New River Gorge (NRG) has seen an influx of visitors, much like Bourne, who are traveling from far and wide to see a piece of “Almost Heaven.”

“...there’s everything from the wildflowers blooming down by the river to people getting out on trails and visiting the historic sites,” Park Ranger Jodi French-Burr said of NRG. “So, no matter what your cup of tea is, there’s probably something here for everyone.”

From debuting its archive collection online to restoring an eighty-year-old mural in Mount Hope, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve’s efforts are fueled by community help.

Now more than ever since it is National Park Week.

The country-wide celebration of National Parks kicked off on Saturday, April 16. Alongside this commemoration, parks in every state are increasing their programming and activities.

Jessica Lynch, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Museum Technician, says it also inspires park officials to continue their work in protecting history.

“It really calls on us to celebrate our parks by sparking collaboration and innovation and preservation,” she stated.

As for Bourne, she’s leaving New River Gorge with plenty of new memories. Next, she and her posse will be headed to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee.

And she hopes that others can visit some of the sites she’s seen as well.

“Everyone needs to get out and enjoy it,” Bourne shared. “It’s beautiful.”

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve will host National Park Week activities until Sunday, April 24, 2022. But, don’t worry, if you miss out on events this week, the park is also hosting Spring Fling programs until Mid-May.

To learn more, visit www.nps.gov.

Copyright 2022 WVVA. All rights reserved.