Explore charming Fayetteville and the Mountain State’s first national park
The state of West Virginia is overflowing with historic sites and scenery. With a plethora of gorgeous mountains and hiking trails, West Virginia adventures are perfect for those looking to put down their phone and immerse themselves in nature. In the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, the Mountain State is home to the United States’ newest, and West Virginia’s first, national park.
Bordering the charming town of Fayetteville, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve was founded in 1978 and has been drawing millions of visitors from across the United States every year since. Those who come to visit the park will find an abundance of activities for people across all fitness levels. The park is home to hundreds of miles of hiking trails, established rock climbs, biking trails and tons of guided adventures with Adventures on the Gorge.
At Adventures on the Gorge, there is never a shortage of things to keep adventurers occupied. Their guided white water rafting programs range from full day to overnight and multi-day tours with camping along the New and Gauley rivers. They provide both family-oriented adventures for beginner rafters as well as more challenging rafting excursions for the more experienced thrill seeker. Guided rock climbing, repelling, horseback riding, mountain biking and hiking are also available with Adventures at the Gorge.
Perhaps some of the most popular and extensive offerings the adventure resort has to offer are its aerial adventures. From the adrenaline-filled 850-foot walk upon the New River Gorge Bridge to zipline tours, tree canopy tours and treks through the TimberTrek Adventure Park, visitors are provided a multitude of options to fill their adrenaline and team-building needs.
The resort’s Gravity Zipline Tours includes six ziplines increasing in length as the tour proceeds with 1.5 miles of total zipline length and a final 3,150 ft “adrena-line” which reaches speeds of up to 65 mph and is competitive in length with the longer single-length ziplines in the United States.
Visitors can continue their aerial adventures by paying a visit to TimberTrek. With options for day and night-time tours, guests can experience the woods of the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve from a new perspective with physical challenges and obstacles above the forest floor that allow seekers to “take the initiative of their own adventure.”
Looking to try a bit of everything? Adventures on the Gorge also has a Treetops Canopy Tour which allows guests to zipline, hike, and repel through the park’s strikingly beautiful forests. Last, but certainly not least, on the list of aerial adventures is a bridge walk on the “longest steel arch bridge in North America,” the New River Gorge Bridge. The bridge features a thrilling 3,000-foot walk 850 feet above the New River upon a 24-inch-wide catwalk.
GET ACTIVE IN THE PARK
Outside of Adventures on the Gorge, travelers have an abundance of opportunities for individualized activities such as hikes and climbs to stay active while visiting West Virginia’s first national park. The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve has, in recent years, begun the “Get Active in the Park” partnership with Active Southern West Virginia in order to create initiatives for West Virginians and travelers alike to get outside and move more.
Programs run through Get Active in the Park include trained volunteer instructors and free beginner level fitness activities to encourage folks to be more confident in building a lifestyle with increased physical activity. The park has also created the 100 Mile Challenge, originally created to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the National Park Service, which challenges park visitors to keep track of their miles hiked in the park and aim to reach 100 miles to “earn a special prize that places you in that elite group of wilderness pedestrians.”
Laying just outside of the national park is the quaint town of Fayetteville, which is never lacking in activities for every type of traveler. Local mountain biking and rockclimbing tours are available and visitors can even take a ride in a biplane with Wild Blue Adventures for breathtaking views of the New and Gauley rivers, the New River Gorge Bridge, and the Hawks Nest State Park and Dam.
Take a trip downtown to see a show at the historic Fayette Theatre, explore local shops, and grab a bite to eat at a variety of local restaurants such as the Cathedral Cafe and Book Store on South Court Street or The Free Folk Brewery on Court Street.
Whether seeking exhilarating adventure tours, serene hiking and biking trails, or exploration of a charming and buzzing town, the Fayetteville and New and Gauley rivers area has everything needed for a fulfilling, fun and nature-filled experience.
By Jill Pillow