West Virginia’s motto is Wild and Wonderful, and while you can always find great basic outdoors activities such as hiking and biking, there are also lots of opportunities to try new sports that are often unique to the Mountain State. Try these six activities for a different, uniquely West Virginia experience.
The calmer mountain streams in West Virginia are known to be some of the best fly-fishing spots on the east coast. With fly-fishing, you tie (or buy) intricate lures and cast long lines out on top of the water in hopes of catching rainbow trout. At the Elk Springs Resort & Fly Shop, you can have a nice getaway in the Allegheny Mountains and try out this very special type of fishing. A guide will take you out for half- or full-day trips, or you can rent gear and get out into the river yourself.
There are lots of great ski resorts in West Virginia for downhill skiing, but there are also great places to go cross-country skiing if you want a little slower (and possibly safer) speed. White Grass is your best bet for a one-stop x-c-ski experience. Owned by the very friendly Chip, the Nordic ski center has rentals and lessons. The center was built in 1959 and now has over 37 miles (60km) of trails. When you’re ready for a break, head to the little lodge for some warm soup and fresh beers on tap.
You can also rent snowshoes at White Grass and use their trails – just don’t mess up the groomed ski trails! Or, you can head to Canaan Valley State Park and try snowshoeing there. The 18.5 miles (30km) of trails are ungroomed and open for use during the winter season. Usually you need about a foot of snow to make snowshoeing better than hiking, but it’s just as easy hiking and all you need to do is walk!
You could just hike your way to the top of Seneca Rocks, or you could be more daring and try rock climbing at this famous West Virginia landmark. Located in the Monongahela National Forest, the rocks were one of the first established climbing areas in the eastern United States. The Seneca Rocks Climbing School and the Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides both offer lessons, gear rental, and guided climbs.
West Virginia is known for white water rafting, and it’s definitely a thrill-seekers’ must when visiting the state. In the New River Gorge National River area, there are numerous outfitters who will take you out on half- or whole-day trips along the New and Gauley Rivers. The spring and early summer usually offer the most intense rapids as snow melts in the mountains, but throughout the summer and fall you can raft in easy rapids suitable for all ages, or opt for more intense trips.
If you really need to get your heart rate going, the Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Park near Beckley, West Virginia is the place to go. Driving all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes is definitely a form of entertainment in West Virginia, and this private park has acres of wooded trails to zoom around. They have a half-day “Learn to Ride” program that will teach you everything you need to know to have fun on your own.