The Best Watersports to Try in West Virginia

White-water rafting
White-water rafting | © James McCauley / Flickr
Kristina Gaddy

West Virginia has many opportunities for watersports, from classic kayaking and canoeing, to more unusual ways to see the water such as white-water rafting and supping. Here are five activities to try while you’re in the Mountain State that will provide an unforgettable experience.

White-water rafting

West Virginia is well-known for some of the best white-water rafting in the Mid-Atlantic region. In the southern part of the state, the New and Gauley Rivers have up to Class V rapids, and a number of outfitters can get you on the water. In the northern part, the rapids are a little less well-known, but the Cheat and Youghiogheny Rivers also offer awesome opportunities to experience the thrill of a churning river.

New River Gorge

Bridge, Natural Feature

New River Gorge
© bobistraveling / Flickr

The New River Gorge Bridge might be the most photographed landscape in the entire state of West Virginia. As part of a National Recreation Area, the New River Gorge has hiking, biking, rafting, and amazing views of one of the oldest rivers in North America, both from the bridge and from trails alongside the river.

Cheat River Outfitters

Natural Feature

Cheat River Outfitters offer trips on both the Cheat River and the “Upper Yough,” or Youghiogheny River. The Cheat Canyon and Upper Yough offer the most advanced runs, with up to Class V rapids, while the Cheat Narrows is better for kids and people who might not want such a big thrill. Cheat River Outfitters is about an hour from Morgantown, West Virginia and two hours from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and perfect for a day trip on the river.


If fast rapids in a big raft full of people isn’t your thing, then gliding down a calm river in a tube might be more your speed. Tubes used to be the big, black inner tubes of truck tires, but are now specially made for riding down rivers. So you can get a tube that has a nice bottom in the middle and even a cooler-tube to store the beverages you might want to consume while enjoying pure relaxation. Check before you go to make sure water levels are high enough, and make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat, and footwear that can get wet. Harpers Ferry and the Greenbrier River both have great places to tube.

Harpers Ferry

Museum, Natural Feature

harpers ferry
© Jacob Fincher / Flickr

The Harpers Ferry area swarms with people wanting to escape the heat of Washington, D.C. and the D.C. suburbs during the summer season. River Riders, Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, and River and Trail Outfitters all offer tubing with trips of different lengths.

Greenbrier River Campground


Greenbrier River Campground
© Kristina Gaddy for CultureTrip | River Tubing | © Kristina Gaddy for CultureTrip

In southeast West Virginia, you can take a leisurely tube ride along the Greenbrier River. The Greenbrier River Campground south of Lewisburg will drop you and your tube off, set you down the river, and pick you up a few miles downstream. The distance on the river isn’t that far, you’ll be floating the 2.5 miles (4 km), but it takes about half a day.

Fly fishing

Elk Springs Resort & Fly Shop


@ Raeky / Public Domain / WikiCommons

Is fly fishing a watersport? That might be debatable, but it is a unique West Virginia activity that will get you out into the water. The Elk Springs Resort & Fly Shop offers an opportunity to try this very special type of fishing. You can rent gear, or get a guide to take you out for half- or full-day trips.

Supping and boating

West Virginia has two great man-made lakes that offer lots of watersports, from jet-skiing to canoeing. But when you visit Sutton Lake or Summersville Lake, make sure to try supping and pontoon-boating.

Summersville Lake Retreat

Park, Sports Center

1024px-Summersville_Lake_deep_water_soloing_-_2 (1)
© Jarek Tuszyński / WikiCommons

At Summersville Lake, near the Cheat River in south central West Virginia, you can also rent sup boards and pontoon boats to cruise around the lake. The lake is massive—2,700 acres (11 km2)—and created by a dam. The lake has both scenic cliffs that drop into the water and shorelines that are the perfect depth for swimming in the summer. The Summersville Lake Retreat also has cabins and camping for extended stays in the area, and there are many other cabin and house rentals in the area.

Sutton Lake Marina

Park, Sports Center

Stand-up paddleboarding, mostly known by the way cooler name SUP, is an alternative to kayaking or canoeing. You stand up on a surfboard-life board and use a long paddle to navigate flat water. It challenges your balance and you don’t feel quite as claustrophobic as sitting in a kayak. If you’re in the Sutton Lake area, you can rent sup boards at the Sutton Lake Marina for two, four, or eight hours, plus get a lesson in how to maneuver on the board. If you want to go for a more relaxed, luxurious day, this is also the place to rent awesome pontoon boats. The marina offers many different models, including ones with built-in slides. This is how to really cruise the lake in style.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.


Keen to explore the world?

Our passionately curated premium small-group trips are an invitation to connect with like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.