You don’t vacation in Southern West Virginia; you have adventures. The counties of Southern West Virginia are jam-packed with daring, high-speed outdoor experiences, with tantalizing cultural historical landmarks, and with mystifying locales. A visit to Southern West Virginia is a thrilling adventure for your mind, body, and spirit. Discover the ways you can take your experience-level to titillating new heights in this rocking region.
The southern region of West Virginia is cloaked with tree-lined rolling mountain sides, and if your first impulse when you see a mountain is to want to fully immerse yourself in its natural splendor (preferably at high speeds), then you’ve come to the right place.
- ATV Riding: There are few pleasures for thrill-seekers that stack up to riding an ATV along a wooded trail. With the nation’s largest contiguous trail system, West Virginia is the ATV capital, especially with these trails:
- Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park, which is situated on 10,000 acres and offers over 100 miles of trails. Located only 3.5 miles outside of the town of Sophia, Burning Rock’s the wilderness playground for the ultimate family-friendly motorized adventure.
- ACE Adventure Resort, which was featured on the travel channel has it all … ATV trails, bike trails, hiking, lodging, lake time, whitewater rafting … there’s nothing under the sun that’s not happening at ACE.
- Hatfield – McCoy Trails includes dirt bikes, UTVs, and ATVs in its trail system. There are over 700-plus miles of trails rated for level of difficulty making it easy for you to pick the level of your adventure. Open 365 days a year.
- Hiking & Biking: If your preference is for a slower-paced adventure (but a fun-filled adventure in the glorious outdoors none the less, then you’re in luck … the same places (and more) that offer ATV rides through the wilderness are also great for hiking and biking. If like your adventure on two wheels (or two feet), then check out:
Hikers, in addition to the NPS trails, make sure to visit these picturesque natural trails located in Monroe County:
- George Washington & Jefferson National Forest
- Appalachian Trail
- Allegheny Trail
- Fishing: Opportunities for fishing in West Virginia are plentiful, so you can literally reel in your own adventure.
- Do a guided (or self-guided) raft at Greenbrier River Campground, do a guided fishing trip with Pro Rivers Outfitters, LLC., or a float or fly fishing trip with AOTG’s Mountain State Anglers.
- Explore Monroe County’s Tate Lohr Fish Hatchery, or do Reel Catch’s catch-and-release.
- For a half or full-day fishing excursion, scope out New Gauley River Adventures.
If your quest to Southern West Virginia has landed you in New River Gorge, you’re in luck because some of the biggest and best adventures to be had are here (especially if you like getting your feet (okay, everything) wet)!
- Whitewater Rafting: In case the word “river” didn’t give it away, New River Gorge has 14 whitewater rafting companies to choose from. Some are all about the rapids while others (like ACE or River Expeditions) have several adventures including ziplining, ATV touring, rock climbing, biking, paintballing, and more to do.
- Bridge Walk – The New River Gorge Bridge: At 876 feet high, the New River Gorge Bridge Walk is more than just a Sunday stroll. The guided walking tour is 1.25 miles long and takes 2-3 hours to complete. The payoff? Gorgeous scenic views, the thrill of being as high up as the pinnacle of the Eiffel Tower, and of course, the knowledge that it’s perfectly safe since you’re harnessed.
- Zipline: Whether you enjoy soaring through trees like Tarzan or splashing into a body of water at the end, many of the venues that offer whitewater rafting in New River Gorge County also have ziplining. ACE Adventure Resort and River Expeditions are two. Meanwhile, there are Gravity Zip Lines, TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tours, and more at Adventures on the Gorge.
If you’re ready to give your body a break, then tease your mind’s need for adventure in Mercer County.
- Historic Bramwell: Officially a historic town, little Bramwell is considered the Town of Millionaires. Made wealthy by coal, the early town was characterized by resplendent mansions with grand ballrooms. Children’s playhouses were the size of full-size homes. Early town stores remain; for example, the original pharmacy is now a café but the original soda fountain is still there. Take a step back in history with a tour of the town.
- Baseball: It’s American as apple pie, but there’s definitely an element of adventure in going out to the old ball game because an adventure is an experience, and seeing the Princeton Rays, the second-oldest baseball team in the county vying for the Mercer Cup against the Bluefield Blue Jays is one to be had.
- Lake Shawnee Abandoned Amusement Park: Speaking of experiences, if your idea of mental and emotional adventure includes a creepy fear factor, then by all means, visit the Lake Shawnee Abandoned Amusement Park, which was left vacant after two children died there in 1966. These were the final two of six children who died at the park. It could be that the park was cursed from the start as its legacy predates its establishment when the land the park was established on was the subject of a bitter, deadly feud between Native Americans and Europeans. Today, the haunted park is considered one of “The Most Terrifying Places in America” according to the Travel Channel.
Venture into a world of curiosity in Beckley. From the historic to the laid back to the creative, these are all experiences that complete Southern West Virginia adventure experience.
- Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine: You’ve no doubt figured out that coal mining is quite a serious industry in Southern West Virginia. Ride along on a tour of the underground vintage mine. This adventure gives you real insight into past and present day miners’ lives as well as information about equipment, mining methods, and more. In addition to the Mine, one can tour the period coal camp buildings situated throughout the grounds. Lovingly restored, the Coal Company House, Superintendent’s Home, Pemberton Coal Camp Church, and the Helen Coal Camp School, give visitors a true representation of early 20th century coal camp life. The Exhibition Coal Mine operates from April 1 to November 2.
- Golf: Non-golfers might not appreciate the adventure of playing on a new course, but with five world-class courses in Raleigh County, players of the sport know differently. In the surrounding area, choose from:
- Black Knight Country Club
- The Resort at Glade Springs
- Grandview Country Club
- Mountain State Miniature Golf (considered one of the most unique miniature golf courses in the country and great fun for the whole family)
- The Brier Patch Golf Links
- Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia: Last but not least is Tamarack, a peaked red-roof establishment that is an innovative hub in West Virginia. Characterized by stunning landscaping and sounds of the Appalachians, Tamarack is the artistic center for the area with a theater; fine arts gallery; studio artisans who specializing in glass making, woodwork, pottery, and fine arts; and original, handmade items for sale. There is also a food court and conference center on site. It’s a hub of wonder and certainly an experience not to be missed.
Southern West Virginia truly is an adventure with indoor and outdoor excursions. Start your quest where you please—going wild on the rapids and racing through mountain trails, teasing your mind at a haunted amusement park, or enthralled in historic and cultural wonder. No matter where you start and finish, Southern West Virginia offers adventure every step of the way.