THE GREAT OUTDOORS
For the Adventurer in You
Whitewater rafters discovered West Virginia's rivers in the early '60s. They were the first to flock to the New in southern West Virginia, now known as the New River Gorge National River, and the Cheat, northeastern West Virginia's raucous little stream that bucks up spring excitement. The world-famous Gauley River, which draws 60,000 to central West Virginia each year, was considered un-runnable then. Today, the state's sophisticated whitewater industry serves up both wild and mild whitewater on five of the state's rivers, nine months of the year.
Scuba divers take the plunge in lakes around the Mountain State.
Mountain bikers have claimed the wilds of West Virginia as their eastern headquarters. The terrain is as challenging as you'll find anywhere and many communities throughout the state welcome riders with special events and facilities developed just for them.
Hikers flock to the trails and the forests that carpet the state. From the marked trails of state parks to the historic paths of the rail trails at North Bend and the Greenbrier River, to the thousands of acres of natural lands waiting to be explored, West Virginia is a hiker's heaven.
If you fancy scaling the heights, the state's innumerable sheer rock faces await you. Rock climbers from around the country are making their way to West Virginia to the New River Gorge, the Coopers Rock region of the north and throughout the Potomac Highlands, especially at Seneca Rocks. If you're a novice, climbing schools can show you the ropes.
When winter comes to the high spine of the Allegheny Mountains where West Virginia's ski resorts and touring centers perch, skiers enjoy long winters, deep snows, plenty of trails and lifts, respectable vertical drops up to 1,500 feet and a wide variety of contemporary and cozy facilities. Whether you're a downhill or cross country fan, come see why West Virginia is the first choice among Mid-Atlantic and Southern skiers.
Interested in a subterranean adventure? Cavers still haven't charted all the caves in the state. A trip beneath West Virginia's surface can reveal magnificent underground grandeur. There are several caving outfitters in the state. Also, look for underground attractions like Lost World Caverns in the New River/Greenbrier Valley, or Seneca Caverns and Smoke Hole Caverns in the Potomac Highlands.
From the lakes and rivers that dot and crisscross West Virginia to the thousands of acres of designated wildlife management areas, this is premier territory for hunters and fishers, as well. Licenses are easy to obtain and the spectacular scenery is an added bonus.
The Scenic Side
Some adventurers like to pursue their sport in as much comfort as possible-say, from the porch of a cabin in a scenic state park, the hot tub at a mountain lodge or the window of a cozy room in a picturesque bed and breakfast.
Some might prefer to pursue their sport in the comfort of their cars. Just wander West Virginia's famous country roads, winding through forested hills all over the state. Be sure to pack plenty of film and plan to take your time on the slow-down-and-look drives cloaked in history and scenery.
Public parks all over the state provide comfortable access to West Virginia's wonderful wildlife, scenic splendors, living history, gentle hiking paths, naturalist programs and overlooks of marvelous mountain scenes. Many are accessible persons with disabilities.
West Virginia has an impressive network of state parks, forests and wildlife management areas. More than 200,000 acres have been set aside to preserve regions of natural wonder, scenic beauty and historical significance.
Nine state forests offer innumerable opportunities for exploring and enjoying the great outdoors. Thirty-eight state parks beckon visitors to escape and relax in mountain splendor.
One entire national forest and portions of two others are located in West Virginia. In the Potomac Highlands, 901,000 acres of the Monongahela National Forest surround the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. The terrain is some of West Virginia's most rugged, and includes the state's highest point, Spruce Knob, at 4,861 feet. Five wilderness areas are part of the forest.
The Potomac Highlands also includes 100,000 acres of the George Washington National Forest in Pendleton and Hardy counties, adding to the region's camping, fishing and hiking hot spots. And in the southern part of West Virginia, the Jefferson National Forest dips into Monroe County.
Outdoor Warrior, Luxury Lover
So, whether you're a sports enthusiast or a luxury lover, or a little of both, come to West Virginia, get outside, breathe deeply, get healthy, enjoy!
Mountaineer Country ~ Northern Panhandle ~ Mid-Ohio Valley
Mountain Lakes ~ Metro Valley ~ New River/Greenbrier Valley
Potomac Highlands ~ Eastern Panhandle