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West Virginia named top global travel destination yet again – Mountain Messenger

by Staff
National Geographic included whitewater rafting at the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve as a “Best of the World” Top 20 Travel Experience for 2024. 

National Geographic selects West Virginia’s whitewater for prestigious 2024 “Best of the World” list

Gov. Jim Justice and the West Virginia Department of Tourism have announced that West Virginia has been selected as one of National Geographic’s “Best of the World” Top 20 Travel Experiences for 2024. The internationally acclaimed publication has selected whitewater rafting in the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve as one of the world’s top wonders to experience this year. 

“If the world didn’t know before about the beautiful state we get to call home, they surely do now,” Gov. Justice said. “I’ve been saying for years that West Virginia is a diamond in the rough.  Well, now we’re shining for all to see, and it’s much deserved. We’ve worked hard to change our image and it’s made all of the difference for tourism in the state. I’m so proud and I can’t wait for new visitors to experience Almost Heaven because of honors like this one.”

Each year, National Geographic releases its “Best of the World” list, celebrating travel experiences that illuminate the world and the diversity of communities and people within it. The list is selected and written by National Geographic global editors from around the world, in collaboration with National Geographic experts and expedition leaders.  Rafting in West Virginia made this year’s list along with highly acclaimed experiences such as an eclipse in Niagara Falls and glacier treks in Chile.

“Putting together our annual BEST OF THE WORLD list with our global editorial team each year is one of my favorite projects!” said Sr. Editor of Travel at National Geographic Amy Alipio. “West Virginia in particular was a fun addition for us, as we tend to look for places that combine both interesting culture – like Appalachia – and natural wonder. Not many people know that New River in West Virginia is actually one of the world’s oldest rivers – or that it’s one of the best places in the world to go white water rafting! So we hope readers of Nat Geo’s Top 20 Travel Experiences will discover that as well,” National Geographic’s Senior Editor of Travel  Amy Alipio.

This designation follows a series of recent major announcements by Forbes Advisor, Thrillist, Condé Nast Traveler, Outside Magazine, Lonely Planet, TIME, USA Today and Frommer’s among others, that together rank West Virginia as a leading global destination for travel. 

“In my very first meeting with Gov. Justice 7 years ago, he told me that we were going to show the world just how great West Virginia truly is, and that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said West Virginia Tourism Secretary Chelsea Ruby. “Since then, our goal has been to highlight the unbelievable wonders of the Mountain State each and every day, and we are thrilled to see major publications continue to recognize how incredible West Virginia really is.”

The New River Gorge National River was redesigned as the nation’s newest national park, the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, in December of 2020. The nation’s newest national park offers travelers more than 70,000 acres of undiscovered beauty and unmatched outdoor recreation, including whitewater rafting. Rafters from around the world have been flocking to West Virginia for years, but the new national park designation has brought even greater attention to the world-class recreation in the southern part of the state. Whether travelers are looking for heart-pounding, high-adrenaline rafting or a family-friendly float, the New River Gorge National Park provides one of the world’s best experiences.

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