August 11, 2022

One phrase to explain West Virginia’s terrain? Untamed. Anchored by means of the Appalachians, the Mountain State holds an exciting trove of untamed rivers, deep gorges and thick forests completely fitted to action-packed adventures, with whitewater rafting and rock hiking on the peak of the record.

A excellent position to begin? New River Gorge Nationwide Park and Keep – the latest nationwide park within the nation. Inviting small cities dot the mountain foothills, and historical websites highlight the state’s contributions to The us’s tale, from coal manufacturing to Chilly Struggle secrets and techniques to at least one very well-known relatives feud. Listed below are a few of our favourite adventures in West Virginia.

A person wearing a neon-green backpack jumps from New River Gorge Bridge during the annual Bridge Day festival in Fayetteville, West Virginia
Every year, the New River Gorge Bridge closes to cars and masses of BASE jumpers parachute from its ledge © neiu20001 / Getty Pictures

Have a good time the Bridge

Essentially the most iconic landmark within the state, the sleek New River Gorge Bridge is the 3rd absolute best bridge in the USA and, at 3030ft, probably the most longest single-span arch bridges on the planet. The 876ft-high span closes to cars at the 3rd Saturday in October for Bridge Day, when masses of BASE jumpers parachute from its ledge and pedestrians are allowed to walk from one finish of the gorge to the opposite. The remainder of the yr, courageous vacationers can sign up for a Bridgewalk excursion, which gives dizzying perspectives of the river from the catwalk underneath the span.

Excursion a secret bunker on the Greenbrier 

All through the peak of the Chilly Struggle, the USA govt carved a secret bunker right into a mountain at the back of the luxurious Greenbrier hotel, in White Sulphur Springs – within the tournament of a nuclear assault, it will’ve been a fallout refuge for participants of Congress. Saved secret for greater than 30 years, the bunker is now open for excursions. After you discover the huge advanced, stroll over to Draper’s for a fried inexperienced tomato sandwich and a few exuberant decor. 

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Experience a “guy automotive” right into a coal mine

The coal-mining business fueled, rather actually, The us’s emergence as a global energy, and within the early 1900s, southern West Virginia used to be an epicenter of coal manufacturing. Nowadays veteran miners lead excursions deep right into a former mine on the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine; guests board a passenger tram – referred to as a person automotive – for the family-friendly travel. The Mine Wars Museum in Matewan makes a speciality of the violent confrontations between miners, mining corporations and the USA govt within the early Nineteen Twenties, whilst the Coal Heritage Path, a countrywide scenic byway, swings via 13 counties. 

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Tip: Many small museums and outside guiding corporations are most effective open seasonally, generally April via October, so test their standing prior to visiting.

Select a facet in Hatfield and McCoy nation

Essentially the most well-known relatives feud in The us evolved alongside the banks of the Tug River, within the mountainous terrain of southern West Virginia and japanese Kentucky. It’s an advanced saga, together with a submit–Civil Struggle land dispute, a stolen pig, a bootleg love affair and a whole lot of murders. Museums and customer facilities within the cities of Matewan and Williamson dig into the main points, and there is a driving-tour map to key websites. A 1000-mile all-terrain car (ATV) path gadget, identified jointly because the Hatfield-McCoy Trails, crosses a couple of counties and prevents by means of feud-related websites; ATV leases are to be had around the area.

The New River Gorge Bridge, as seen from Fayette Station Road on a partly cloudy day, with lush greenery on either shore
The New River is the epicenter of The us’s latest nationwide park © ESB Skilled / Shutterstock

Get to understand New River Gorge Nationwide Park and Keep

The epicenter of The us’s latest nationwide park? Fifty-three wild miles of the New River. This powerhouse of a river – probably the most international’s oldest – flows down a forested gorge, carving a deep trail during the Appalachian Mountains. Whitewater rafters leap down its rapids whilst rock climbers take on 1400-plus routes at the sandstone cliffs that bounce above its waters. Waterfalls, wildflowers and perspectives of the New River Gorge Bridge are highlights for hikers, whilst 4 using loops carry mountain bikers to the Arrowhead Trails. Whispers of historical past float during the park’s deserted mining cities, and thru websites on its African American Heritage Auto Excursion. 

Devour unbelievable meals in Fayetteville

Compact Fayetteville is a convivial basecamp for hikers, mountain bikers, paddlers and rock climbers who’re in a position to take on – or get better from – adventures in New River Gorge Nationwide Park. It’s additionally bursting at its polar fleece seams with excellent eating places. Sandwiches are slathered in deliciousness at Secret Sandwich Society, whilst Pies & Pints slings pizzas loaded with crowd-pleasing toppings like Gouda cheese, sriracha shrimp and marinated grilled steak, along an in depth number of craft beer. Espresso and home made muffins are served beneath stained-glass home windows at Cathedral Cafe, tucked within a small former church.

Defy gravity on the Thriller Hollow

In relation to kitschy sights, the Thriller Hollow ranks with the kitschiest. Tucked within the basement of a cabin festooned with flags and multicolor wackiness (you’ll are aware of it while you see it), the reveals right here seem to defy gravity – however in a charmingly kooky means. Ten miles northwest of Fayetteville on mountainous US 60, that is roadside The us at its greatest. 

Check out rock hiking to hit new heights

The jagged peaks of Seneca Rocks upward thrust 900ft above the North Fork River, putting a now-iconic silhouette. Rock climbers have scaled its sheer sandstone flanks because the mid-Nineteen Thirties. Hiking novice? Sign up for a category at probably the most within sight hiking faculties. For hikers, a 1.5-mile path climbs to an statement platform close to the highest of the formation. Twelve miles south at family-friendly NROCKS Out of doors Adventures, guides lead fixed-anchor by means of ferrata climbs up and throughout a double-fin rock formation. Climbers, who’re harnessed to the rock, hang to a path of metal steps. Be warned – a 150ft-high suspension bridge additionally awaits! 

Eat a pepperoni roll

Baskets of pepperoni rolls – cushy bread rolls filled with cured meat – are ubiquitous in gasoline station mini-marts around the Mountain State. In keeping with lore, a Nineteen Twenties-era Italian miner-turned-baker sought after to create an easy-to-hold meal for miners. After some experimentation, he evolved the pepperoni roll, which may well be eaten with one hand and stayed safe to eat all day. Promoting pepperoni rolls since 1927, Nation Membership Bakery is the birthplace of this West Virginia delicacy.

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Revel in whitewater thrills at the Higher Gauley River

Entering into your raft on the base of the 390ft-high Summersville Dam on a dam-release day is an act of sheer braveness. On six fall weekends, water from Summersville Lake roars from the dam via a number of huge tunnels, developing wild whitewater at the Higher Gauley River. Those Magnificence III to V+ rapids plunge you down roiling chutes for an exciting ten-mile run, one of the vital difficult – and a laugh – whitewater adventures in the USA. Rafting journeys at the Decrease Gauley and the within sight New River are well-suited for nature enthusiasts and adventurous households. Adventures at the Gorge and different rafting clothes shops cluster close to Fayetteville.

Step again in time at Harpers Ferry Nationwide Park 

Time go back and forth is a fact within the decrease the city of Harpers Ferry, the place red-brick structures and cobblestone streets evoke the hamlet’s Nineteenth-century heyday as a hub for business, business and transportation. Maximum particularly, it used to be the website online of abolitionist John Brown’s unsuccessful try to spark a slave rebellion in 1859, and lately a lot of the downtown is an open-air museum run by means of the nationwide park provider. Hugged by means of the leafy Shenandoah Mountains on the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Harpers Ferry could also be a photogenic launchpad for climbing the Appalachian Path and cycling the C&O Canal towpath.

Sunrise from Dolly Sods Wilderness Area in West Virginia, with autumn foliage and sunbeans coming through dark clouds
Dolly Sods is a chief spot for day-long or weekend adventures © Pictures by means of Deb Snelson / Getty Pictures

Hike for miles at Dolly Sods Wasteland

Sprawled around the summit of the high-elevation Allegheny Plateau, the northern reaches of Dolly Sods Wasteland set a stark however putting scene. Purple spruce timber pop in opposition to the blue skyline, which surrounds a windswept simple dotted with boulders, upland toilets, and grassy balds – alpine terrain that mirrors the panorama of northern Canada. 40-seven miles of trails crisscross its 17,371 acres, making Dolly Sods a chief spot for day-long or weekend adventures. Construct your individual loop hike from the Beaver Dam or Endure Rocks trailheads.

Hunt for ghosts on the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

Simply spooked? Then steer clear of the night paranormal excursion at this former health facility for the mentally unwell, which used to be in operation from 1864 till 1994. A Gothic-style construction built of hand-cut sandstone, it stretches just about a quarter-mile at the outskirts of tiny Weston. Regardless of the insensitive identify of where (it used to be later renamed Weston State Health facility), its historical past excursions thoughtfully speak about the inhumane practices that often happened at psychological hospitals up to now. 

Discover tune and mountain tradition in Charleston

Settle in for an evening of toe-tapping reside tune from up-and-coming nationwide musicians – people, blues, indie and international rock – right through the two-hour Mountain Level display produced by means of NPR. Broadcast on choose Sunday nights, presentations are continuously held at Charleston’s State Capitol Advanced, at the Tradition Heart Theater on the West Virginia State Museum. Shows on this top-notch museum highlight key occasions and characters within the Mountain State.

Experience large perspectives at state parks

Quick trails result in large perspectives at state parks throughout West Virginia. At Blackwater Falls State Park in Davis, the 57ft-high falls tumble into an 8-mile gorge hugged by means of hickory, hemlock and pink spruce timber. Perched on a high-elevation ledge, the omit at Hawks Nest State Park takes within the New River and the mountain slopes that hug it – a particularly beautiful scene in fall when leaves are ablaze in colour. Secure by means of a wood-and-stone fence, the rocky point of view at Coopers Rock State Wooded area is nearly as photogenic because the forested Cheat River Valley a long way under. The most efficient phase? Admission to all state parks is unfastened.

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Store and dine in captivating small cities

The most efficient small cities in West Virginia percentage a number of characteristics: top-notch eating places, historical motels, intriguing ties to the previous and walkable Major Streets covered with in the community owned stores. Simply west of Greenbrier hotel, Lewisburg’s historical downtown dates from the 1700s. Consult with Carnegie Corridor, pattern native granola in Bella the Nook Connoisseur, then take a look at the Believe Me salad on the Stardust Cafe.

The oldest the city in West Virginia, Shepherdstown is a brief power from Antietam Nationwide Battlefield in Maryland. Savor New American fare throughout the upscale confines of Press Room – a romantic spot for date night time. George Washington himself as soon as soaked within the scorching springs in Berkeley Springs, formally referred to as Bathtub.

Have a laugh year-round at Snowshoe Mountain Lodge

The only outside recreation you’ll’t do at Snowshoe? Unusually sufficient, it’s snowshoeing! This mountain-top hotel, which sits at 4848ft, is called for the all-white snowshoe hare. However no worries, the hotel serves up a bunch of different iciness adventures, together with skiing, snowmobiling, snow-tubing, sleigh using and snowboarding, which is obtainable on greater than 60 trails. In summer season, mountain bikers hurtle down Snowshoe Motorcycle Park, which has just about 40 trails; the biggest motorbike park within the area, it often hosts the UCI Mountain Motorcycle International Cup.

Catch reside tune on the Crimson Mess around 

An oasis of a laugh within the a long way northern reaches of the Monongahela Nationwide Wooded area, the Crimson Mess around is a small tune venue with a large middle and a larger recognition. Anchoring the tiny the city of Thomas and its sidekick Davis, this former nation retailer now shines as an artsy tune corridor. With nightly reside presentations, the Mess around welcomes road-trippers from up and down the east coast for its eclectic, most commonly acoustic performances – search for nationally identified bands taking part in old-time tune, rock and roll, reggae, Cajun and funk. It serves beer and nice sandwiches too.

Walk the Cranberry Glades Boardwalk Path

The 4 peat toilets on the Cranberry Glades Botanical Space are far flung, eerie and in contrast to any panorama you’d be expecting to look in West Virginia. Extra conventional of Canada, the acidic wetlands listed here are a remnant of the Ice Age – a spongy carpet of decaying plant subject matter, the place orchids and carnivorous crops have controlled to stake a declare. A half-mile boardwalk cuts a meandering trail via two of the delicate toilets, which might be situated an hour north of Lewisburg.

Protection suggestions and restrictions right through an epidemic can exchange swiftly. Lonely Planet recommends that vacationers at all times test with native government for up-to-date steerage prior to touring right through COVID-19.