West Virginia: 6 Unforgettable Adventures in the Appalachian Mountains
- West Virginia
Outdoor recreation is a way of life in West Virginia, a picturesque and historic destination situated within the Appalachian Mountains.
This rugged backdrop means more than 75 percent of the state is covered in forest just waiting to be explored. Check out these adventures in and around West Virginia’s parks, rivers, off-road trails and mountaintops – accompanied by the lush scenery of the oldest mountain range in the world.
ATVing: Fun on Four Wheels
If you’ve never ridden an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), the nearly 1,000-kilometer Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is the perfect place to start. Outfitters such as Scarlet Flame Side X Side Adventures and WV ATV Rentals offer guided tours (complete with the required permits), so even beginners can try this muddy, messy and bumpy thrill of a lifetime.
ATV riding through the Pocahontas Trail System near Bramwell
Climbing: Adventure on the Rocks
The New River Gorge is the most famous climbing site in West Virginia, but climbers should also check out Seneca Rocks in the Monongahela National Forest, a craggy fin of rock that is only accessible by trad (traditional) climbing. There’s also an easy hiking trail with an observation platform for non-hikers. Just 15 minutes away, NROCKS Outdoor Adventures offers Via Ferrata (fixed-anchor) climbs for all experience levels.
Seneca Rocks landmark looming above colorful goldenrod in bloom
The Bridge Walk: New River Gorge
At 924 meters long and 267 meters high, the New River Gorge Bridge is one of the world’s most impressive single-span arch bridges. If you’re ready to conquer your fear of heights (with stunning views as your reward), take the Bridge Walk tour on the catwalk directly under the bridge – happily tied to a safety cable as you walk hundreds of meters above the river.
Walking tour and amazing views under the New River Gorge Bridge
Whitewater Rafting: Among the Best in the USA
When it comes to whitewater rafting, West Virginia has something for everyone. New to rafting or traveling with kids? Guides in the upper New River Canyon offer a gentle introduction. For seasoned adventurers, the lower New River offers a combination of pools and rapids, while the upper Gauley River’s Class V+ waters require physical strength and experience, with rapids ending in a 4-meter waterfall.
Braving the Lost Paddle Rapid on a rafting trip down the Gauley River
Paddling: Scenic Trails on the Water
Even non-outdoorsy types can go from dry land to canoeing or kayaking with ease in no time. The Upper Cheat River Water Trail is a calm ride through the Allegheny Mountains, with historic sites and attractions along the way. At tranquil Summersville Lake, you can rent pontoon boats, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks for low-impact fun.
Serene and scenic canoeing along one of West Virginia’s water trails
Skiing: Winter Resorts in the Mountain State
Want to see the “Mountain State” covered in snow? Several major ski resorts cater to a wide range of experience levels and interests. Canaan Valley Resort has 47 trails to choose from; Timberline Four Seasons Resort has a renowned ski school; White Grass Ski Touring Center is excellent for cross-country skiing; and Snowshoe Mountain Resort has the most advanced trails in the region.
On the slopes of Flat Top Mountain at Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent
Fly into Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), which offers connecting flights to Yeager Airport (CRW) in Charleston, West Virginia’s capital city. Rental cars are readily available in Charleston.