Traveling with kids is rewarding. Nothing is better than watching your child light up at the sight of nature, hearing them say they haven’t missed their phone all week, or feeling their sense of pride as they call on their courage for a zipline adventure. Traveling with kids can also be challenging, a battle between ensuring education and entertainment for the kids and wanting some time to unwind for the adults.
Here are just a few of the benefits spending time in nature offers kids and families:
Increase Health and Fitness
Children who experience positive interactions with nature on the river, on a hike through a forest, or during camping trips, tend to be more eager to play outside on a regular basis. More outside time means more movement, which means healthier bodies.
Help for ADHD
There’s some great news for families with children living with ADHD: spending time in nature may serve as a natural treatment. A national study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that spending time in green settings appeared to drastically reduce ADHD symptoms in children. The surprising results applied to all children and did not seem to vary by gender, location, age or income groups. These findings offer families the potential for a natural, side effect-free way to help their children with ADHD.
A report from the University of Sydney in Australia found that teens who spend time outdoors have an easier time socializing and making friends resulting in a huge boost in confidence. Their peers, who use free time to participate in indoor activities like gaming, report feeling more shy, lonely and isolated.
Reduce Stress & Depression
Numerous studies have shown that a dose of the outdoors reduces stress and depression in both adults and children. Vitamin D from time in the sun battles the blues, while getting some distance from the constant buzz of the city helps relieve anxiety and stress.
Now that you know the benefits of a vacation based in nature, here are activities we offer by ages to help you plan the best activities for your family vacation.
An obstacle course in the trees, is one of two primary adventures for young hearts yearning to be wild. Don’t be fooled by the minimum age of 4 years old—TimberTrek will get your blood pumping and heart racing (no matter your age) as you weave through platforms with bridges, ziplines, cargo nets, and other surprising obstacles in between.
The mild whitewater of the Upper New River offers gentle rapids and scenic views of the New River Gorge. This trip is ideal for family raft trips as an introduction to whitewater rafting.
Everyday, all season long KIDS 11 AND UNDER RAFT FREE.
For 6 year olds, we have our Almost 7 Program inducting them into our rafting family. Children will receive a rafting certificate and an Adventures on the Gorge Almost 7 t-shirt.
Our Glade Creek Rafting and Hiking trip combines the splendors of Glade Creek Canyon with the scenery, whitewater, and wildlife of the New River. The adventure begins with a hike along Glade Creek on a path that winds through Rhododendron thickets and Hemlock forests, then culminates with a waterfall and the chance to swim in the refreshing pool below it. After returning from the hike, enjoy a picnic lunch, and then hit the river. This section of the New River includes playful rapids and relaxing pools.
Or for the perfect balance of relaxation and thrills, our half-day Summersville Lake Adventure trip is the ultimate summer experience. This trip navigates Summersville Lake on a pontoon boat, giving you the option to just chill on board, go for a swim, explore the lake on a stand-up paddleboard, or try your hand at rock climbing.
Families can also put on your walking shoes and explore the New River Gorge on guided hiking tours where you can take in the panoramic West Virginia mountain views, spot local wildlife, and see a different side of the mountain. At the age of 8, children can also participate in our climbing and rappelling adventures in the New River Gorge, horseback riding and fishing trips.
If you and your family are looking for a traditional adrenaline-packed whitewater rafting adventure, the Family Lower New is the trip for you. Our experienced guides will take you down the challenging rapids of the New River Gorge on our oar-mounted rafts. You and your children will have the chance to paddle while the guide rows, but this style of guiding is able to accommodate younger children or less-experienced paddlers.
Also at the age of 10, children are ready to try our TreeTops Canopy Tour where they will get a different view of the surrounding forest. This activity consists of 10 ziplines, five sky bridges, a couple of short hikes, and a rappel at the end.
You’ll descend through a series of deciduous trees as each zip gets a little longer and a little higher. As the forest turns into a Hemlock stand, you will cross pristine Mill Creek as you continue through the course. A series of short sky bridges allows you to take your time and really experience the forest. A short hike brings you to ‘Rock Launch,’ one of the longest zips on the course. A couple more zip lines, a bridge crossing, and a rappel brings you back to solid ground.
For kids looking for something different, we have Paintball, Laser Tag and guided mountain bike tours.
At the age of 12, children can experience our most popular whitewater trip, the Lower New River.
The Lower New River steps up the pace with exciting whitewater rafting and over 25 rapids from Classes II-V. Between the rapids and drops there are pools of calm water where you can catch your breath and gather strength for the next challenge. This trip runs through the scenic New River Gorge and finishes up right below the New River Gorge Bridge.
Not to be forgotten is Gravity Ziplines. This open-air zipline course soars a jaw-dropping 200 feet above the ground at its highest point, taking riders on a 1.5 mile long tour that zigzags across the ridgeline of a mountain bowl and offers amazing birds-eye views of three counties and the changing foliage in the fall.
You’ll start off with two 500 ft long warm up ziplines, graduating to 1,300 feet, 1,600 feet, 1,800 feet in length, and the whopping 3,150 feet Adrena-Line zip that has riders routinely hitting speeds of 60-65 miles an hour.
In the fall, children can be introduced to the Lower Gauley River on our Lower Gauley Whitewater Trips. With over 70 rapids and breathtaking scenery the entire way, the fall Lower Gauley is the best choice for an adventurous first-timer or an experienced New River enthusiast who wants to go one step further.
Our Lower Gauley rafting trip is 13 miles long and includes thrilling rapids like Class V “Heaven’s Gate” and “Pure Screaming Hell.”
By the time they have reached 15, they are ready to step it up a notch, The Upper Gauley. The Upper Gauley River is the epitome of whitewater excitement. This section drops over 335 feet in 10 miles, resulting in high-volume and technical whitewater from start to finish. Consistently rated one of the top five rivers to raft in the world, and one of the top three in the United States, this is the Beast of the East.
The Dries, a relatively new trip is now available. Explore the heart-pounding whitewater and stunning scenery displayed on The Dries, unlike any of our other trips.
In terms of scenery, The Dries is more tight and curvy with towering cliffs right at the water’s edge, than the wide open river upstream. Expect to see more rock around you, and less open sky.