America’s newest national park is coming down on visitors who they say are destroying the park and putting other visitors’ lives at risk. After an almost deadly incident along the cliffs of the Endless Wall Trail, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is urging its visitors to stop throwing rocks off cliffs.
“The climber stated many large rocks were thrown throughout the day by multiple visitors and at least one of the rocks fell just a couple of feet away from someone who was climbing, which could have easily been fatal if the climber was struck,” the national park said in a Facebook post last week.
The rocks were reportedly being thrown from the cliffs at Diamond Point, which is along the Endless Wall Trail, and down below, over 100 feet into the park’s climbing areas.
After a thrown rock almost struck a climber, the park said that the consequences of throwing rocks are twofold. While the park wants visitors to avoid this type of behavior entirely due to the dangers it poses to others, throwing rocks is also dangerous for the park’s environment.
“Removing rocks also damages the park’s natural resources by taking a non-renewable resource and removing it from where it was naturally found,” the park’s post said. “It is more important than ever to practice established Leave No Trace principles.”
Although signs are posted around Diamond Point informing visitors not to throw rocks, the park still faces this issue, and visitors have expressed their concerns in the Facebook post’s comment section.
Those that took to the post described the behavior along the trail as nasty and inexcusable, pointing the finger at parents who allow their children to participate in the rock-throwing.
Others on the Facebook post even mentioned some advice that the park might consider in the future. “Time to start having visitors watch a leave no trace video [and] take a test to ensure understanding,” suggested a commenter.
Advising visitors via Facebook was the park’s first step to avoiding a deadly accident. Since the incident was reported, the park has not announced further steps to stop rock-throwing in the future.
At the end of 2020, New River Gorge gained national park status and is a lively outdoor destination in West Virginia, seeing close to a million visitors each year.