Adventure Blog

Your Road Trip to Adventure in the New River Gorge National Park in any Season

Road Trip to Adventure in the New River Gorge Adventures on the Gorge

“Why aren’t we flying? Because getting there is half the fun. You Know that.” – Clark Griswold

As we as a society navigate a new era of travel, one thing is certain, most Americans are finding a renowned love and passion for the classic all American road trip vacation. And if there are two things we know for certain, our passion and commitment to outdoor adventure and all country roads take us home (or our home away from home – The Great Outdoors).

If you love the outdoors, adventure and new activities, chances are you love a road trip. We offer a wide array of fun for all ages and ability levels and we are located on the rim of the Nation’s Newest National Park, The New River Gorge. For millions of people in the eastern part of the United States, a road trip to the New River Gorge is an easy drive — and probably an activity most people would relish any time of year.

Known for our whitewater rafting on the New and Gauley Rivers, AOTG has steadily increased our activity offerings for the past 10 years to include rock climbing, ziplining, stand-up paddleboarding, ropes courses, Bridge Walk, horseback riding, hiking, shooting sports and more. Named one of the top adventure resorts in the country by U.S. News & World Report, we are located on more than 250 acres along the rim of the majestic New River Gorge National Park and Preserve near Fayetteville, WV. We also offer a variety of free-standing lodging choices ranging from camping, rv camp sites, glamping tents, one-bedroom cabins and suites to four-bedroom cabins. All offer private entrances and wi-fi, and most have their own bathrooms. Several have washers and dryers. The multi-bedroom cabins feature kitchens with ovens, stoves, refrigerators and dishwashers. This is especially appealing to groups who make mealtime part of their entertainment or who want to save on dining expenses.

After a day of adventure, you can relax and take in the amazing views of the New River Gorge Bridge and New River Gorge National Park at Canyon Falls Pool or while dining at Smokey’s or Chetty’s. Canyon Falls Pool is open from Memorial Day thru Labor Day, weather permitting later in September.

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Summer Road Trip to Adventure

Summer is the perfect time to visit America’s newest National Park: New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, commonly known as the Grand Canyon of the East. The New River winds through West Virginia and creates amazing views. The steep gorge cliffs also create some of the best whitewater on the East Coast and the summer shows her off in her most splendid glory.

Whether you are looking for an adrenaline-filled rafting trip or a more leisurely float trip – the New River has the perfect option for you. The Lower New boasts Class V rapids that are sure to get your heart pumping. While the Upper New tackles Class I-III rapids that are suitable for the whole family.

When it comes to cooling down on a summer day, there is no better way than to be on the river. The Class IV Lower New River is especially popular for overheated adventurers seeking relief and endless laughs. The Family Lower New offers rafting fun for adventurers ages 10 and up. The Lower New Whitewater Rafting (ages 12 and up) allows for a fun filled day of splashes, waves, jump rocks and rapids. The Upper New River also has calmer sections filled with Class I-II whitewater that allows for a fun rafting experience for kids as young as 6.

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The Glade Creek Canyon Rafting & Hiking (minimum age 8) offers a calm rafting experience with waterfalls, swimming holes and jump rocks.

Not into water to cool off, no problem! We can help you cool off by flying high and zipping through the air. Gravity Ziplines contain multiple zips including 1.6 miles of cable allowing you the ability to reach speeds often in excess of 60 mph.

For a more relaxing way to cool off, head over to Canyon Falls Pool. The deck overhangs the rim of the New River Gorge with breathtaking views. Along with two pool levels split by a waterfall and splash area for kids, the Pool Snack Shack offers a variety of options to help you cool off.

Fall Road Trip to Adventure

Want to feel as if you are paddling through a watercolor painting? Ready to ride your bike through a forest of orange and red? If so, it’s time to head to the New River Gorge.

While the region is packed with visitors all summer, as the seasons begin to turn the crowds of every-day tourists turn to a different breed of adventure lovers. The fall brings in those who have been around long enough to know the beauty of October in the Gorge. It is for those who happily brave chilly mornings to be surrounded by the vibrant fall colors of the West Virginia mountains. It’s for those who are ready to fall in love with the New River Gorge.

You can raft the New River Gorge in any season, but there is nothing quite like rafting through the canyon when the normally lush green foliage transforms to an array of bright reds, oranges, and golds. While the whitewater is as exciting as ever, you also have time to drift through calm pools and enjoy your surroundings. Plus, when your photo and video are captured at the day’s biggest rapids, you not only get to relive the whitewater but also the beautiful colors.

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Not to be forgotten, fall also brings our most exhilarating adventures. It’s friends huddling together with anticipation at the base of Summersville Dam. It’s early-morning fog rolling off the Gauley River canyon. It’s your heart racing with adrenaline at the top of a class V rapid. It’s Gauley Season.

And among the rafting communities here in West Virginia, it’s the most anticipated six weeks of the year. Unfortunately, with all our excitement, we often assume that everyone else is as familiar with Gauley Season as we are. Too often, the truth is, potential boaters are missing out because they don’t even know what “Gauley Season” means.

So, while the Gauley River can be enjoyed year-round—the canyon offers stunning scenery, fishing, low-water inflatable kayaking throughout the spring and summer—these 23 days are scheduled release days. This means the Army Corp of Engineers releases an agreed-upon amount of water from the base of Summersville Dam, creating ideal water levels for rafting the 26+ miles of whitewater and more than 100 Class III, IV and V rapids below.

These predictable releases draw in whitewater enthusiasts from all 50 states and multiple countries.

The Gauley River is a two-part whitewater adventure comprised of the Upper and Lower sections of the Gauley River. However, with many of the most famous rapids—Pillow Rock, Iron Ring, Sweets Falls, and more—crammed into the Upper Gauley, too many rafters overlook the splendor of the Lower Gauley.

The Upper Gauley’s often overshadowed second-half, the Lower Gauley offers stacked Class IV and V rapids plus even greater scenery than the upper section, making it a must on any whitewater lovers list. Plus, it’s more approachable demeanor makes it a great way to start your Gauley River adventures.

The Upper Gauley Why We Love Her

As fall sets in, the TreeTops Zipline Canopy Tour is set ablaze with color. You can let the flame-colored leaves nearly brush your face as you zip by, and admire the colors as you fly across the creek and above the colorful trees. To get a wide-open view overlooking West Virginia’s vibrant fall colors, head to the Gravity Ziplines course. There, you will soar (at speeds of up to 65 miles per hour) above rolling hills that spread the vibrant hues as far as the eye can see.

Fall is well known as the best season for climbing in the New River Gorge—and not just because of the fall colors. The cool, crisp air allows climbers to enjoy routes that would leave them sweatsoaked if they were attempted during the region’s humid summers. Plus, the world-renown climbing destinations are surrounded by vibrant colors, putting a colorful spin on iconic climbing photos you can’t get in any other season.

After the summer heat wanes but before the winter rains set in is the perfect time to hit the Gorge’s mountain biking trails. You can race through the single-track routes lined by trees that shroud you in colors or choose steep climbs with scenic overlooks where you can take a break from the burning muscles and enjoy the burnt orange valley below.

Sometimes simplicity is just what you are looking for, and when it comes to taking in the fall colors of the New River Gorge, it’s hard to beat a traditional hike to one of the canyon’s stunning overlooks. For views of the New River Gorge Bridge set against the vibrant backdrop of fall colors, try the Long Point Trail. Not only do you get one of the best views in the region, but the nearly 3-mile hike through the woods gives you a chance to take in the colors up close as well. Alternatively, choose the Endless Wall Trail for stunning cliff-top views overlooking the colors of the Gorge.

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Winter Road Trip Getaways

Even though the New River Gorge is known for its amazing white water rafting, there are many, many activities local to the area that can be enjoyed even through the winter. Many outdoor activities have a completely different side to them that can only be seen through the lens of the winter snow and cold.
Exploring the mountains can be a breath-taking experience, no matter what time of year. However, the addition of snow and cold adds a level of stillness that would otherwise be unattainable.

If you are looking to book a winter getaway at Adventures on the Gorge, the diversity of lodging options can be overwhelming. With everything from rustic cabins to luxury lodges, there are options for every type of traveler, and the accommodations you choose can determine your vacation experience. So, we’re here to breakdown the options and help you select a weekend home that won’t let you down.

If your vacation is all about relaxation and spending time with loved ones, there is no better place to do it than at one of our luxury lodges. Nestled in the West Virginia woods, these spacious lodges have room for your whole group to stay under one roof. They are complete with full kitchens, Wi-Fi and TV, game rooms, fireplaces, laundry rooms, and more, so when the weather is bad you won’t need to leave the house for any reason—except to slip into the hot tub on the deck.

Winter Wonderland

Are you looking for a mountain escape free from TV screens and the buzz of your cell phone? Our Rustic Cabins bring you as close to camping as you can get while still having a roof over your head and a heater to warm you up after an outdoor adventure. If you are imagining nights around a campfire and are looking for an authentic bonding experience without the distractions of screens, look no further.

Tucked back in the woods but conveniently located just across the street from the Adventures on the Gorge check-in counter, our Deluxe Cabins offer a happy medium between luxury lodges and rustic cabins. With all the amenities—including a fully equipped kitchen and a hot tub—this vacation rental is just right if you want to have it all under one roof and be within walking distance of the Adventures on the Gorge activities, restaurants, and entertainment.

If you’re not looking forward to that antsy feeling of being cooped up indoors with no way to get your adrenaline pumping, you know you’re not alone. And, we’ve got good news for you: Adventures on the Gorge’s zipline course, TreeTops Canopy Tour is open to groups of 4 or more people all year long. So, speaking of not being alone, if you’re ready to grab a group of 4 friends, book a school getaway for the kids, or gather your coworkers and have more fun than is usually allowed when you’re together, we’ve got a zipline course that is perfect for you.

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Spring Road Trip to Adventure

As the flowers begin to bloom and the robins return to the forests, the New River Gorge bursts into life. The New River Gorge is a great place to see the spectacular displays of Catawba rhododendrons that bloom here every spring. The purple Catawba rhododendrons typically bloom in mid May, while the white great rhododendrons typically bloom in July.

The flowers are blooming, the ice is melting and the water is flowing — that’s right, it’s spring rafting season in the New River Gorge National Park. Every year, nature presents rafters with a free adventurous upgrade, better known as high water. The water levels on the New River during this time of year give the river a completely different disposition than what you usually experience in the summer months.

If you are ready to experience the springtime thrills, then the Lower New is for you! From raging crosscurrents and hydraulics to submerged rocks and obstacles, the Lower is home to the fast-moving water that creates Class II–IV+ rapids. Be prepared for plenty of paddling! But don’t worry, the river also has occasional pools which give you just enough time in between rapids to catch your breath before you are ready to jump back into another one. Most trips are suitable for anyone 12 and up. The Lower section of the river is picturesque, as well. Once you’ve made it through the rapids, you’ll end your trip under the striking New River Gorge Bridge.

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So wherever the road takes you in your upcoming travels, we hope it leads you to the great outdoors!

For AOTG CEO, Roger Wilson a drive must be at least 10 hours long before he even considers flying. “I can get wherever I am going by car just as fast when I add up the time it takes starting from my home to the final destination,” he said. “And I can make the trip on my schedule instead of the airline’s.”
Some sample distances and estimated drive times from metropolitan areas from all directions are:

  • Pittsburgh, PA – 220 miles, 3½ hours.
  • Columbus, OH – 225 miles, 3¾ hours.
  • Charlotte, NC – 235 miles, 3¾ hours.
  • Cincinnati, OH – 260 miles, 4½ hours.
  • Washington, D.C. – 300 miles, five hours.
  • Cleveland, OH – 310 miles, five hours.
  • Toledo, OH – 365 miles, six hours.
  • Indianapolis – 380 miles, six hours.
  • Nashville, TN – 450 miles, 6¾ hours.
  • Atlanta, GA – 470 miles, 7¼ hours.
  • Chicago, IL – 555 miles, 8¾ hours.
  • New York, NY – 520 miles, eight hours.

And just for fun: the drive from Fayetteville, NC to Fayetteville, WV is 300 miles long and should be just under five hours.

If you want to experience everything we have to offer, please call one of our adventure specialists.

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