It’s been just over a year since New River Gorge reached the “Gold Standard” of being designated a national park, and excitement among visitors continues to increase.
“For the first time that I can recall, the entire country seems to be talking about West Virginia – and Southern West Virginia in particular – as a bucket list destination, and if the diversity in the license plates I see in our parking lot and at the national park visitor center is an indication, we’re drawing more people from states around the country than we ever have before, ”said Roger Wilson, CEO of Adventures on the Gorge. “The natural beauty of the region has always been a draw, and now travelers can experience more outside adventures than ever before.”
The destination has received widespread worldwide media coverage this year, and excitement about the destination continues to build. Frommers.com recently named the New River Gorge one of the top 10 best places to go in 2022. The region was also named one of the top family-friendly destinations to visit by USA Today; top travel region by Lonely Planet; and one of the best places to go by Conde Nast Traveler. Additionally, Time named the New River Gorge one of the world’s greatest places.
So, what do people look for in activities in Southern West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park and Preserve? Glad you asked. Here are 22 suggestions visitors can enjoy in and around the country’s newest national park:
Learn or improve your adventure skills
Adventures on the Gorge offers “Learn To” and other guided skill-building experiences featuring personal coaching with passionate guides.
Learn to fly fish like a pro. Learn how to tie a fly, cast and retrieve, set a hook and more.
2. Whitewater Kayak. For beginning and intermediate kayakers who want to learn how to kayak whitewater. Students will learn about gear selection, basic paddle strokes, how to roll a kayak upright, boat control and much more.
Go mountain biking with a guide. Two-hour and half-day Guided Mountain Biking tours are customized to cyclist’s skill level. Experiences range from easy scenic tours to some of the most challenging tracks in the Appalachians.
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4. Learn the ropes of rappelling. Adventurers as young as eight can learn the basic skills needed to rappel off a cliff during this two-hour adventure. There are also half-day rock climbing and rappelling adventures.
5. Take a guided hike. Hiking guides lead hikers of all abilities to the best spots for photos, the most scenic vistas and places to spot wildlife on two-hour and half-day hikes.
6. Sharpen your aim. The resort has teamed up with The Summit Bechtel Reserve to offer resort guests new activities. The Summit operates both pistol and shotgun ranges on 60 acres with sporting clays, equipment and expertise in a controlled environment.
7. We’ll tell you what’s SUP. Head to Hawk’s Nest Lake (It’s actually part of the New River) for some smooth water stand up paddle boarding. Take in the views from the bottom of the gorge, go for a swim and watch the trains go by.
Conquer your fear of flying
After a winter at home, staying grounded may be the last thing you want to do, even if it makes you a little nervous. Adventures on the Gorge offers a variety of ways to let your body as well as your spirit soar.
8. Zip through an Eastern Hemlock forest and protect the environment at the same time. TreeTops Zipline Canopy Tour features 10 ziplines, five sky bridges, two short hikes and a rappel at the end for a half-day aerial adventure that is devoted to sustaining the health of the forest. Part of the fees help treat trees infected by the invasive Wooly Adelgid.
9. Get a birds’-eye view of the New River. The guided New River Gorge Bridge Walk offers a slow walk along a 24-inch catwalk 850 feet above the New River for an unforgettable view of the river and a fascinating look at the architectural features of the famous bridge.
10. Defy Gravity. Speed demons will love the monster 1-mile Gravity Ziplines, soaring 200 feet above ground and zigzagging across the ridgeline of a mountain bowl. Expect speeds of up to 65 miles per hour.
Challenge those muscles you’ve been working on all winter
All those burpees, squats and push-ups you do this winter will pay off when you meet the physical challenges found at these adventures at Adventures on the Gorge.
11. Climb and kayak on Summersville Lake. With a toy-packed pontoon boat as your floating home base, this half-day adventure offers a variety of ways to play. Test your upper body strength climbing the rock walls of the lake, challenge your balance on a stand up paddle board and demonstrate your stamina by kayaking across the lake.
12. Test your balance, strength and focus on the TimberTrek Adventure Park obstacle course. To be victorious you’ll need strength, endurance and confidence to face more than 60 platforms with bridges, ziplines, cargo nets and many other challenges.
13. Join the Gauliathon. The rafting world’s version of a triathlon, this three-day, four-night fall-season adventure is the ultimate Upper Gauley challenge. It includes four days of rafting the Upper Gauley’s famous Class V rapids, riverside camping, meals and guided hikes. Not for rafting newbies.
Spend more time with the kids
14. Take them to the river. The Glade Creek Canyon & Hiking Adventure is the perfect New River adventure for families with kids eight and older, with paddling, hiking, jumping and crazy fun. Our guides love this trip almost as much as the kids. And a big bonus for parents: kids under 12 raft free.
15. Unplug your teens on the New River Overnight. There’s nowhere for them to recharge their phones, so teens will simply have to spend real facetime with you during this two-day adventure. You’ll paddle the Upper and Lower New River by day and spend the night at a riverside campground.
16. Go float fishing and camping. This two- or three-day adventure will give you plenty of time to get reacquainted with your kids as you leisurely cast away the day and spend the night under the stars.
17. Introduce your teens to the Beast of the East. Sixteen is the minimum age for all Gauley River trips during the fall Gauley Season. Even if they do not say so, your intrepid teens will be thrilled to paddle Class V rapids along with their cool parents. There are half-, full- and overnight trips, and some previous rafting experience is recommended.
18. Share some pool time. The Canyon Falls Swimming Pool includes a water feature to entertain the little ones and a convenient poolside bar for the grownups.
Situated on 250 wooded acres with private cabins and secluded trails, there are plenty of places to find quiet seclusion away from other guests.
19. Yoga on deck. The decks surrounding Canyon Falls Swimming Pool offer a variety of optimal spaces for early-morning yoga or meditation.
20. Hot tubs in the woods. Many of the cabins feature hot tubs situated on private decks and offer a great place for meditation and stargazing.
Unleash your wild side
When you’re ready for extreme, crazy fun, you’re going to want to experience the Gauley River during the Gauley Season.
21. Run the Gauley River Marathon. The Gauley River Marathon will get your heart racing, with 60 rapids – including 25 Class Vs – in one long day.
22. Make it a double. The Double Upper Gauley 1 Day is the most intense river trip Adventures on the Gorge has to offer. You’ll raft the massive rapids on the Upper Gauley section of the river two times in one day.