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New River Gorge, WV. Wild, Wonderful, Adventurous
West Virginia's New River Gorge: Exciting, Friendly, Affordable
I recently moved to DC for an assignment with the Army. As Memorial Day approached I went looking for a trip that would get me out of the urban jungle and into nature. I wanted great scenery, fun activities, and nice people. The New River Gorge had all three.
The New River Gorge is conveniently located to Washington, DC, Ohio, and Pennsylvania
One of the great features of New River Gorge is that fact that it's a reasonable drive from several major urban centers. I made it there in a little over 5 hours and that was despite making several stops and navigating major traffic coming out of DC. The drive from DC to the gorge has to be one of the most beautiful and scenic drives in America. Coming out of DC you’ll see the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. As you enter West Virginia you’ll see the amazing Alleghenies. The are two ways to get the New River Gorge from DC. I recommend taking I-66 for the most scenic route.
After I arrived, I met up with people from all over the country. I met travelers from Columbus, Ohio, Cleveland, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, PA. All these places are approximately a 3 hour drive to the gorge. I very much enjoyed visiting with people from all over great country.
Plenty of nice places to stay and eat
Fayetteville is the epicenter of activity for the New Rover Gorge. Originally built as a coal mining town in 1824, this town of 2,500 has reinvented itself as a tourist hub. I was surprised by the great lodging and dining options available. Nice cabins complete with kitchen’s, WiFi, and electricity are available on the grounds of Fayetteville’s primary outdoor outfitter. These cabins are great for families. The grounds that house the cabins feature a kids playground and family restaurants. Air BNBs and branded hotels are also available. I chose to stay in a hotel. While it was simple hotel, it had the feel a resort. There was a nice outdoor pool that attracted families more than willing to share their fun travel stories.
What really surprised me were the many nice restaurants in town. My hotel had a cozy bar and grill that had a great staff, good drinks, and tasty food. I spent my first evening in town talking with some of my fellow visitors. Later I visited the towns best pizza shop which was much more modern than I would have imagined for a rural West Virginia town.
Adrenaline filled adventures
One of West Virginia’s signature attractions is the collection of adrenaline spiking activities available for those who dare. I chose to take a ride on the big zip line and walk on the the famed New River Gorge Bridge.
The zip line was actually 5 zip lines. Our group started out with the smaller zip lines and gradually worked our way up to the Andrenaline, the fastest zip line in the Gorge.
After putting us in harnesses, we lined up for our first trip. I felt a little nervous since the harnesses were meant to be worn loose so that we could ride in a sitting position and move as fast as possible. The first 4 zip lines were an incredible experience. There is nothing like riding over the green West Virginia countryside at 50 miles an hour.
We ended the day riding the Adrenaline zip line where we reached a speed of over 65 mph, faster than cars on the bridge.
After lunch we went to the New River Gorge Bridge to walk across the nearly mile long catwalk that runs underneath it. For those with a fear of heights, this may be a good way to get over it.
When you walk across the bridge, you are in a harness attached to a bolted safety line the entire time. As you walk across, you feel the bridge shake as large vehicles drive across. Our guide explained the history of the bridge at various points during the walk. In the middle of the bridge we were allowed to sit on the catwalk and take some great, Instagram worthy photos. The whole walk takes a little over an hour.
Wonderful Whitewater Rafting
An absolute must do activity in New River Gorge is whitewater rafting. I chose to save this event for last.
You can choose either a half day or all day trip. I recommend an all day trip. It doesn’t cost much more than the half day and you have the opportunity to relax and experience the calm and beauty of West Virginia.
After putting in we floated down the river on relatively calm water. This gave us the chance to practice our paddling and get to know each other. Our guide, JV regaled us with great stories of West Virginia’s history.
Several times during the trip we we are able to jump out of the raft and float using our life jackets for buoyancy. We also got to jump off some large rocks into the water.
Throughout the day we ran several rapids. They all provided a great rush of adrenaline filled excitement. I especially found it fun to slap paddles with my boat mates after every successful rapid run.
The outfitter provided us with a great lunch in the middle of the day. After a fun and exciting day of running rapids we pull in to our take out spot, pulled the rafts out, and got on the bus to go back home. At the end of the day we ran over 25 rapids, jumped off rocks, and enjoyed the amazing West Virginia countryside. On the bus ride we were provided with beers that make for fun and festive ride back.
Back at the home base photos and videos are available for viewing and purchase.
West Virginia is an amazing place to go
With its combination of beautiful scenery, nice people, and fun activities, the New River Gorge is a must for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Liz Westwood from UK on June 14, 2019:
This is a great account of your trip. It sounds like there are plenty of activities in the area to keep visitors occupied. You have illustrated this article with great photos.