The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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May 25, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend in New River National Park

Summer is almost here. This is the perfect time to enjoy a ranger-guided talk or take a hike at New River Gorge National River.

National Park Service visitor centers are a good place to begin any park visit. These facilities offer detailed information about the park’s natural and cultural resources and recreation opportunities. The year-round facilities, Canyon Rim Visitor Center in Lansing and Sandstone Visitor Center in Sandstone, are open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Seasonal facilities open May 25; Thurmond Depot Visitor Center in Thurmond is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., while Grandview Visitor Center at Grandview is open noon to 5 p.m. The visitor centers at Thurmond and Grandview will be open daily through Labor Day.

Ranger programs are an enjoyable way to explore parks and to learn more about the site’s rich resources while exploring the park. Talks and guided walks are featured this weekend, including a special event, Water Safety Weekend.

All programs are free unless otherwise noted. Wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes for all guided hikes. Water, snack, camera and binoculars are other useful tools to bring along. Below is a list of Memorial Day weekend’s featured ranger programs:

Saturday, May 25:

Bluestone Walk

10 - 11:30 a.m. Meet at the base of Pipestem Resort State Park tramway. 2 mile walk. Meet a ranger at the bottom of Pipestem’s tramway to walk within Bluestone National Scenic River for a mile and return. Along the way, enjoy the flora and fauna of the area and discover regional history. Bring $2 for the return tram ride.

Historic Thurmond Tour

11 a.m. - noon Meet at the Thurmond Depot Visitor Center or join the ranger in the historic district. 0.5-mile walk. What was life like in one of the New River Gorge’s most renowned towns? Meet a ranger in Thurmond’s historic district for an informal tour of this once bustling railroad town, hearing stories of days gone by.

Water Safety Weekend: Water Safety Roundup

1 - 4 p.m. Meet at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center. Do you know how to throw a water rescue bag or how to make sure you’ve got the best life jacket for you? Have fun as you try your hand at smart water safety techniques like this and more — from the safety of land. Participants will receive a free “I Got Caught Being Safe” water safety T-shirt.

Water Safety Weekend: River Ranger Rendezvous

2 - 4 p.m. Meet at the Sandstone Falls Boardwalk on River Road near Hinton. Learn easy tips to stay safe when you go out on your next fishing or boating river adventure. Come and go as you please for this informal program near the water’s edge.

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