Dog days of summer for fido (and you)!

Get ready for some doggone fun in the New River Gorge!

Active Southern West Virginia has seasonal and year-round adventures for you and your pooch. Leash up and get ready for a summer party and social walks.

Big Dog Party

Exercise and enjoy it, too! That’s the message behind ActiveSWV, an organization with free activities for everybody. Their monthly events range from stand-up paddleboarding and tai chi to— you guessed it— dog walks.

The Big Dog Party on June 24 will combine socializing with some light exercising. Bring Rover to Fayetteville Town Park by 9 a.m. for a little stroll. Then try your paw at contests for best trick and costume! Don’t own a dog? You’ll have a hoot, anyway. Just sit back and watch the spectacle.

The party will also have raffles, a reading of “Go, Dog, Go!” and activities for kids and dogs until 1 p.m.

Happy tails and trails

ActiveSWV also has doggie activities throughout the year.

If you’re keen on early morning exercise, try “Active Dogs and People.” Community Captain Suleka Deevi and her dog, Tesla, lead walks every Monday and Wednesday. Join them by 7 a.m. at Grey Flats Trails, a forest habitat near the Beckley Soccer Complex. Most walks range from 2-4 miles.

“Dog Walk in the Park” events are more spontaneous, so follow ActiveSWV on Facebook for the latest hangouts. Most happen in the New River Gorge. If you’ve never hiked there, you and your dog are in for a treat. The region is famous for its breathtaking mountain views.

New River Humane Society Dog Walkers

If you don’t own a dog, this ActiveSWV group offers the perfect solution! Head to the humane society in Fayetteville every Sunday at 3 p.m. Needy pooches look forward to these weekly walks, which help them gain trust and social skills. Every outing increases their odds of being adopted. Plus, the two of you get to explore and burn some calories!

Where does your dog like to roam in West Virginia?

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Adventure’s on the Gorge’s best summer family trips

Looking for a one-stop family vacation? Paddle, soar and explore with one of West Virginia’s most popular resorts.

Adventures on the Gorge (AOTG) in Lansing has summer thrills for folks of all ages. Just pick your element: water, air or earth. Then plunge in and make those family memories!

The wet zone

Adventures on the Gorge rafting

Did you know that the New River Gorge is a top whitewater destination? Whether you’re a beginner or confident rafter, the New and Gauley rivers have the diversion you crave.

So does AOTG. Their professional guides can take you on trips like:

  • Upper New River: an easy family outing with Class I-II rapids. Kids 6 and up are welcome!
  • Lower New River: a more dramatic section. Kids 12 and up are welcome to try the Class IV rapids on this full-day expedition.
  • Family Lower New: if your family has rafted before, sign up for this rambunctious trip. Kids 9 and older can join the fun if water levels are just right.
  • Dueling Rivers 2-Day: tackle the Lower New then gear up for the untamed Gauley! Rapids go from Class III-V, so you must be 15 or older.

AOTG has many more river trips, including overnight experiences.

The resort also has relaxing jaunts to the “Little Bahamas of the East.” AOTG’s Lake Multi-Sport Adventure in Nicholas County takes you to the clearest, bluest water east of the Mississippi. Against this stunning backdrop, you can kayak and even go rock climbing.

stand-up paddleboardingStand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is a tranquil alternative to rafting. AOTG has delightful lessons for the whole family at Summersville Lake and— for more experienced folks— the New River. Imagine paddling your way through West Virginia rapids!

Flights through the forest

These aren’t your ordinary zip lines. AOTG sweeps you high above treetops— acres of them, as far as your eye can see.

TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tour lets you explore the old growth hemlock forest canopy from a series of zip lines, sky bridges, hikes and a rappel.

Gravity Zip Lines bullets you along at highway speeds 200 feet above the ground. The tour highlight is Adrena-Line, a ride that often hits 65 mph. But that’s just one of many. Altogether, you’ll cover 1.5 miles of airspace. Sounds more fun that running a mile, right?

Timbertrek Adventure Park is a blast, too. It’s an aerial obstacle course that advances in difficulty as you progress. Shaky bridges and sky-high platforms are just some of the challenges you’ll face. Not everything is what it appears to be, either. Use your smarts to find the most efficient way through the course! Or play at night if you’re especially daring.

Land roving

There’s casual pedaling through the neighborhood, and then there’s mountain biking. Let AOTG show you the difference.

A Fat Kat electric tour combines traditional pedaling with mechanical oomph. Quiet but powerful, these motorized bikes are a fun way to blast through the wilderness.

Of course, AOTG also has traditional mountain bikes. The 2-hour evening ride is an easy but scenic tour through the New River Gorge. For something more intense, sign up for the Half-Day Guided Mountain Biking trip. It’s a longer tour, but not necessarily difficult— unless you want to to test out those demanding single-track trails.

Want to make the most out of the Mountain State? Sign up for AOTG’s rock climbing packages. Professional instructors will introduce you to the area’s world-famous sandstone. Classes include evening climbs, full-day trips, and rappelling.

Then, there’s the most traditional way to explore: on horseback. AOTG’s trail rides penetrate the Gorge’s most romantic areas. Ramble to Glade Springs or, better yet, sign up for the blissful evening ride. Summer doesn’t get any better than that!

How do you like to spend vacation time with your family? For more trip ideas and inspiration, visit Adventures on the Gorge for anything from cabins to caving.

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Spring showers bring…sleuthing powers?

Don’t let rainy days keep you and your crew from heart-pounding adventure! Can you solve Fayetteville’s New River Gorge Escape Rooms in 1 hour or less?

New River Gorge Escape Rooms

It’s just like an action movie: you’re “trapped” in a closed area, and you’ll have to use props and logic to flee. Bring family members along for extra help, or play with fellow adventure geeks.

No escape room is the same, either. Local lore and history inspire the stories, and games vary in difficulty. Just 1 thing remains the same: time.

Runaway Train

You’re speeding along the C&O railroad tracks to Thurmond. Suddenly, the conductor makes a grave announcement: the engineer has disappeared. Worse, you have 60 minutes before the train runs out of track.

Can you halt the locomotive in time? Explore your surroundings, piece together clues and you just might save the day!

“Runaway Train” is the easiest escape game of the bunch, so start with this one if you’re new to sleuthing.

Mothman

On a dark and stormy night, you seek shelter in an abandoned New River Gorge mine. Unfortunately, the entrance collapses. That’s when you discover you’re stuck in the Mothman’s lair!

Just 1 hour remains until the monster returns. This is a moderately challenging game with a 42 percent success rate, so think quickly.

Brave New World

A nuclear missile has targeted America! Your pal has the launch codes that can stop it, but you’ll have to find them in his Gorge cabin.

As you piece together clues, though, you realize things aren’t what they seem. Your friend seems more mysterious by the moment. Plus, the missile is about to launch!

“Brave New World” is the hardest game to solve. Think you’re up for the challenge?

Which game do you want to try?

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Weird, wacky and inspiring: the Tahoe Adventure Film Fest

For 2 nights, adventure movies and comedic presentations come to Fayetteville.

Almost anything is game at the Tahoe Adventure Film Fest. With creator Todd Offenbacher, thrilling recreational sports movies and hilarious presentations are the rule of the day.

Introducing …

Todd Offenbacher: world traveler, athlete, and TV host. As a physical fitness guru, he loves nothing better than motivating folks with movies and presentations. His film festival never fails to fill theaters throughout America, either.

But even if you’re a committed couch potato, you’ll still get a kick out of Offenbacher’s irreverent sense of humor. His presentations are like stand-up comedies. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a natural storyteller, either.

So kick back and look forward to 2 evenings of adventure movies and photos, right here in the New River Gorge!

Tahoe Adventure Film Fest

Discover the joys of living to the max with Offenbacher’s riveting short movies. Dazzling scenery, compelling pacing and inspiring tales of human endurance fill each one. To quote the festival website, watching these curated films is the “next best thing to doin’ it!”

The film fest will be held at the Historic Fayette Theater on April 15. Tickets are $10 per person. The New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC), which is hosting the event, has ordering information on their Facebook page.

“NEVER complain, NEVER give up”

The night before the film fest, join Offenbacher at Waterstone Outdoors for an evening of storytelling. His slideshow— a humorous picture diary of sorts— covers places he’s explored, climbed and skied. Find out what happened during his oddball trips to Svalbard, China, Africa, Pakistan and other exotic locales. You’ll be entertained and inspired all at once!

This free event on April 14 gets crowded, so come early and grab a seat before 8 p.m.

Bonus preview: The Appalachian Outdoor Festival

Surprise! Come back to the Historic Fayette Theater on May 20 for even more flicks. The New River Alliance of Climbers annual festival pays tribute to the wild outdoors, recreational sports, and the human spirit.

Just like Offenbacher’s films, the Appalachian Outdoor Festival shows the most engaging movies available. You’ll also hear discussions from film directors and producers. If this is music to your ears, tickets cost $11 each. You can also buy them at the door for $15. Expect the show to last from 8-10 p.m.

Which event are you going to see?

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5 weekend wilderness escapades, ready for spring!

Take full advantage of glorious natural scenery and cheerful April weather. No matter your experience, these activities get you strolling through the deepest, most majestic portions of the New River Gorge.

1. Easter Sunrise Bridge Walk

Marvel as you stand 876 feet above the ground, right as dawn settles over the New River Gorge. It’s a glorious moment, one that’s fitting for Easter. 

Join Bridge Walk for this year’s special tour. Starting at 5:30 a.m., you’ll step across the New River Gorge Bridge’s catwalk— an expanse 3,030 feet long. The views are stupendous. Rim-to-rim forests, distant rapids, and enormous pastel skies are just some of the highlights. It’s not unusual for folks to glimpse hawks, either.

The Easter Sunrise Bridge Walk on April 16 is just $39.00 a person (plus tax). Make reservations as early as you can, too. Spots fill up really quickly!

2. National Park Service: Prescription Day

Park Prescription Day on April 23 makes good on the cheerful premise that “having fun outdoors is the best medicine.” For one thing, it’s at Grandview— a striking location renowned for its magenta rhododendrons and mountain panoramas.

For another, you can try a new sport. Rangers will have tai chi, yoga, guided walks, and a trail run. It’s also your chance to dabble with sports equipment: stand-up paddle boards, mountain bikes, and more!

Doctors and healthcare professionals (is that you?) will also get free “prescription pads” for patients who could use more time outside. Just ask a ranger. You’re also welcome to join volunteers at blood pressure and glucose stations. Call the visitors’ center for more information.

Think of it this way: it’s the one time you’ll get a “prescription” that’s free and inspiring.

3. Smart Tech Birding at Grandview

Hey, there’s an app for that! Use your smartphone to identify whatever critter happens to meet you on April 28.

If you don’t have any nature “apps” on your device, download some before heading out. Popular ones include Audubon Bird Guide, Birdsnap, and Merlin Bird ID. These are free, but you can also find premium software for a price.

Or, scan the skies with old-school technology. Grandview rangers will have binoculars you can borrow. Join them from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., when birds are chirping, swooping, and gliding around the New River Gorge. It’s a delightful excuse to explore this magnificent park, too— birds or no birds.

4. Hike into Spring

From the dramatic overlook at Grandview to the cobalt New River, this casual walk on April 29 makes the most of the season.

Naturalists will lead the way from start to finish. It’s a 2.5-mile wilderness immersion rich with young foliage, mountain crags, and migrating birds. Some of the terrain is steep, but you can always take a free shuttle on the return trip.

5. Hot ID: Skills with Apps and Guides

Bring your smartphone or favorite field guide; you’ll get an eyeful as rangers take you deep into the New River Gorge on April 30.

From Stone Cliff Trailhead, you’ll wander through old-growth forests populated with venerable oaks, buckeyes, and hickories. This moderate 2-mile trek also winds past picturesque riverbanks.

How do you enjoy spring in the Gorge?

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