Appalachia is home to the nation’s most-visited national park, The Great Smoky Mountains, and the newest national park, New River Gorge. Though this is thrilling news, it’s important to remember the Region is also home to national forests, state parks, and trail systems. Together, these natural assets create a gateway to economic opportunity and increased quality of life for communities. This is especially true during COVID-19, when safety shuttered many indoor activities. Outdoor recreation quickly became a lifeline for both communities and individuals, offering a way to support economies, livelihoods, and mental health during lockdowns. As safety improves, the importance of the outdoors will surely stay with us and remain top of mind for communities looking to leverage their natural and cultural assets.
Appalachia’s Newest National Park
New River Gorge National Park and Preserve
Outdoor Recreation in the Region
Great Smoky Mountains: Adventure Creates Opportunity in Tennessee
Pennsylvania Wilds: Connecting Nature, Culture, and Entrepreneurship
Rural Action: Moving Forest Communities Forward in Ohio
Trail Systems: Guiding Communities to Opportunities
ARC Investments in Natural Assets
Extending Appalachia’s Welcome Through Tourism
Public lands are the foundation for Appalachian tourism, making stewardship of lands vital to this sector’s growth. Public lands include national parks and forests, state parks and forests, recreation areas, local parks, and lakes, rivers, and streams.
Cherry Springs State Park
Over 20 years ago, park staff noted a visiting astronomer, who had found the park while searching satellite images for dark places. Word quickly spread, and lone astronomers turned into small groups, and then larger groups. Today, on a clear night, it’s not unusual to find up to a hundred amateur astronomers camped at the park. The surrounding community now embraces their dark sky as a national stargazing destination.
Learn how you can leverage the natural assets in your community.