An insider’s guide to the New River Gorge

Find out what visitors really think!

Exquisite natural scenery and exhilarating adventures: that’s the New River Gorge! It can be tough deciding what to do next. Hopefully, these reviews help you narrow down that to-do list.

WaterwaysGauley River in WV

The New River Gorge ranks as one of America’s top whitewater destinations. It’s also stunningly wild and wonderful. Whether you prefer to play with a camera or plunge into rapids, there’s a memory waiting for you that’s just your speed— guaranteed.

Here’s what folks on TripAdvisor think about the New River Gorge National River area:

  • I have gotten up at 4 and driven to Fayetteville and Gauley Bridge to be there when the trees were in their autumn splendor and the sun was just coming up. Valleys are filled with fog that gently lifts and the light of the morning sun plays out on the trees giving an interesting mixture of greens, golds and reds. — LKNCHOWHOUND
  • We visited the Canyon Rim Visitor Center and walked down the boardwalk steps to the overlook. It’s unbelievable. Imagine the Grand Canyon full of lush trees. — lecollye
  • Grandview: Had heard of “wild & scenic rivers,” but never a “national river,” so this was a first for us. A short walk through the woods was rewarded with an overlook of the meandering river, and hillsides covered with trees. Lovely. Be careful driving around curves, lots of deer roaming about in late afternoon. — MosbyScout

The Gauley National Recreation Area is a highlight, too— particularly if you know a thing or two about rapids. In fact, dam releases every autumn make it one of the world’s best whitewater destinations.

Check out these TripAdvisor visitor comments:

  • Visiting the Gauley is a must, especially for those interested in whitewater action! The scenery is amazing and the sound of the roaring rocks is mesmerizing. — ELFDUDE
  • Some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen. We were impressed with the depth of the gorge, the history of coal in that area, the history of the rivers in the area, the fact that it has world-class whitewater rafting and much more. — Barbara T.
  • From the first rapids to Sweets Falls there’s barely time to organize your thoughts and fears before you’re tossed into another whirlpool of adrenalin. But just because this is serious white water don’t be afraid to try. — Hawkeye2001a

Air

Horizons of unspoiled forests, jagged canyons, foaming rivers— the best place to see it all is from the sky. Fortunately, you can do just that!

First up: Wild Blue Adventure Company, where you can tour the Gorge miles above the earth … in a WWII-era Stearman biplane:

  • Amazing views of the New River Gorge within minutes of takeoff. Live a little and have [the pilot] do some aerobatics, it will be an experience of a lifetime and make you want to come back again! — waltdisneygeek, TripAdvisor guest
  • We chose a 40-min flight that went along the New River Gorge. The flight showed the twists and turns of the river, the famous bridge and a waterfall. — RoyNYC, TripAdvisor guest
  • From the cadet check in-desk, the correct music [for the era], to the finishing touches in the restroom, Chris [the pilot] has done this the right way. Upon your arrival Chris comes out in era correct attire, looking like he just landed from a mission or barnstorming through the mountains. — nitro g, TripAdvisor guest

Next: Take a Bridge Walk under the iconic New River Gorge Bridge! At 3,030 feet long and 876 feet high, it’s one of the world’s most impressive structures.

Take a look at these TripAdvisor reviews:

  • Halfway across [the bridge] the rain moved in (you do not get wet) and we could see the rain and the clouds and the fog (which is haunting at that height) and even a rainbow. Pictures are taken in abundance, the guide makes sure of that. — bthomas28
  • Our timing was perfect in that we saw several kayakers and rafters going down the rapids. There was also a train that came through on the tracks below— and just as Jay [the guide] had told us, it shook the catwalk! — Jmo523
  • The highlight of the trip, for me, was stopping in the middle of the bridge to sit with our legs kicked over the edge. — Joe C.

Land

The devil’s in the details. Get closer to the Gorge with a bike ride, quirky tourist pitstop, and fairytale visit— like hundreds of folks before you.

Here’s what reviewers on Singletracks thought about the Arrowhead Trails, a stacked loop system that’s ideal for families and competitive riders alike:

  • For first time riders I recommend a to visit to Arrowhead Bike Farm. You will get all [the] info you need and more. Don’t forget to stop by on your way back for beer and food. — Radar84
  • I am not an exceptional mountain biker by any means, and this trail system had enough climbing, descending, rocks and roots to be fun but not overwhelming. We covered most of the trails and it was a blast! Very well marked. — drazilnc
  • Super flowy. An amazing ride on trails that were built specifically for bikes. Best marked trails I’ve ever ridden. — fatadkins

If you crave some kitsch, head to the Mystery Hole! Your mind will be blown by all the oddities— and the incredible river views:

  • We came on it suddenly around a bend and doubled back because we got a good laugh at the structure. The staff was great and the presentation was fun. Well worth the time and the admission charge! — Fanglin64, TripAdvisor guest
  • It was a fun trip back to childhood, where science appeared to be magical. You get caught up in the moment. It is a marvelous recreation of childhood road trips. — JillDonnellyBennett, TripAdvisor guest
  • In the midst of all the scenic grandeur surrounding the New River Gorge, you have this old-school tourist trap completely at odds with its surroundings. And I think it’s that that makes this place even more ridiculous and fun. — Scott W., Yelp reviewer

Grist-Mill

One of West Virginia’s most photographed sites is the Glade Creek Grist Mill at Babcock State Park. It’s a scene worthy of an illustrated children’s book: creaking wood, smooth boulders, and gurgling water.

Here’s what TripAdvisor guests think:

  • Absolutely beautiful. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more beautiful state park and my cell phone pics turned out so wonderful, I’m having them blown up to hang in my house. — myjenyoung
  • The photos [of the mill] have been seen and sold all over the world. Found it kind of funny when I visited a flea market in Atlanta that a vendor had a made-in-China picture of the Babcock State Park. It is a beautiful sight at any season. — momofscooby
  • Very picturesque setting with the mill on the creek. If you have mobility issues, not to worry. The mill is very easy to get to. You can drive right up to it. — AAHolt

Even more insider tips

Stop by the visitors’ center for travel suggestions, brochures, and information. It’s a place no adventurer should go without!

What advice or comment about the Gorge would you share with tourists?

The post An insider’s guide to the New River Gorge appeared first on Bridge Day.

Hills to hills adventure, deep in the Gorge

Thanks to Fayetteville’s newest touring company, you can explore the Gorge from rim to river. Soak up local lore, brews and jaw-dropping scenery while you’re at it, too! Here’s how.

Meet your ride

Like any breakthrough, Hills to Hills Tours & Shuttle makes you wonder what we did without it.

The concept is simple. Instead of searching up and down the New River Gorge yourself, a guide takes you instead. Just leave your car at Canyon Rim Gifts in Lansing and hop into a van. Easy. No need to stress about parking, getting lost or missing a local attraction.

Check these out:

1. Ride under the New River Gorge Bridge

Want to get really close to America’s second highest bridge? Unless you’re a local, it’s easy to miss this unusual drive. Good thing there’s Hills to Hills.

Meet your guide at Canyon Rim Gifts in Lansing. Everybody will have time for shopping and snacking. (Tip: homemade fudge is a specialty.) Then climb into the van, settle into a seat and have that camera ready.

First up: Fayette Station Road. Long since replaced by Route 19, the narrow mountain pass is more than a century old. It used to be the only way you could cross the deep New River Gorge. Now, the switchback makes a picturesque road trip.

Hills to Hills guides stop frequently for photo opportunities along the way. Sweeping vistas of hardwood forests, sandstone cliffs and the sparkling New River follow you for miles. If you’re especially lucky, you’ll spot bald eagles and peregrine falcons, too.

Then there’s the 876-foot-high, 3,030-foot-long New River Gorge Bridge. Fayette Station Road goes directly beneath it. Your guide will tell you all about this remarkable structure, including its history and trivia— a real bonus.

The Tunney Hunsaker Bridge is next. At 278 feet long, it’s much shorter than its gigantic neighbor. But guess what? You can wander a sidewalk and peer down at the New River. You’ll get a peek at a couple of whitewater rapids, attracting kayakers and rafters throughout the year.

You’re not quite finished for the day, though; part of the tour includes ghost towns. Some hide beneath jungly growth, while others are beautifully preserved. As you ramble through the mountain, hear about the New River Gorge’s many mining communities and what life was like when coal reigned supreme. By the time you return to the car, you’ll know just as much as the locals.

Tours are Mon-Fri and $15 per person; contact Hills to Hills for available times. Expect to be gone for an hour.

2. Brewery and Dinner Tour

In addition to world-class recreation, southern West Virginia has a pretty active craft brew scene. Don’t miss a single sip on this innovative trip!

Park your car at Elliott’s Whitewater Bar and Grill in Fayetteville. Laidback and casual, this no-frills joint boasts local craft beer and American comfort food. This is where you’ll have dinner. But for now, it’s a gathering point for the tour.

After everybody is gathered in the van, this trip follows the itinerary mentioned above, including a stop at Canyon Rim Gifts. But instead of heading home after the bridge, you’ll visit Bridge Brew Works in Fayetteville. It’s very much a family business. Three brewers manage everything from hops to labelling— an impressive feat considering all the beers they produce.

As you’ll discover, the brewery is small but ambitious. Kolsch and Belgian-style beers dominate the menu, which features pale ales, stout and lager. Many are available on tap. You can also get bottled beers and growler fills. On this Hills to Hills trip, you’re welcome to sample Bridge Brew’s distinctive creations and tour the production area. The owners are enthusiastic about their trade and want you to be, too.

Your tour ends back at Elliott’s. Local favorites include pig “wings,” batter-dipped cod and Double Z— a one-pound burger with custom toppings. You can also order sandwiches and appetizers.

Daily tours at 4 p.m. Tickets are $35.99 each and available via Quality Inn New River Gorge.

3. Whitewater Shuttle

Rafting is king in the New River Gorge. Folks travel the globe for a chance to challenge the “Grand Canyon of the East.”

If you’ve brought your own boat, Hills to Hills makes transportation easier than ever. Simply bring your kayak or raft to Fayette Station’s parking lot. A driver will load everything into a trailer and bus you to the Cunard put in. With rides available in the morning and afternoon, it’s a convenience nobody can do without!

Shuttles leave Fayette Station every Saturday and Sunday from April through October. Departure times are 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Weekday trips available by appointment.

Tickets are $15 for rides to Cunard or $50 for a weekend pass. Pumps are provided for inflatable crafts, too.

Find your adventure

The New River Gorge may be wild, but Hills to Hills tours take the stress out of parking and exploring.

What have you always wanted to see or do in the canyon? If you have something specific in mind, just ask them. Customized trips are available.

If you could craft the perfect New River Gorge trip, what would you see or do?

The post Hills to hills adventure, deep in the Gorge appeared first on Bridge Day.

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.

The post Adventure’s on the Gorge’s best summer family trips appeared first on Bridge Day.