From peaceful farmlands and historic towns to raging rivers, southern West Virginia is an area of diversity.
Resorts, outdoor dramas, parks, natural wonders and amazing engineering feats entice visitors to this busy area. Here scenic beauty and wild rivers provide food for the soul as well as a feast for the eye.
There are incredible state parks, adventures awaiting on the mild or wild whitewater of the region and hiking and biking on rail trails or on the backroads and forests of your choice. Explore the mountains and the valleys, the stunning scenery and still untamed terrain, the old railroad towns and the new centers of culture and commerce.
Pick your own adventure at a spectacular state park or succumb to the pampering of a world-renowned spa.
Southern West Virginia, well known for its’ spectacular whitewater rafting opportunities, has so much to offer to the outdoor enthusiast. So come and discover:
Mountain biking – with uncountable trails and venues for both soft and hard adventure, the region has something for everyone. Southern WV is ranked in the top five places in the world to mountain bike with mild flat railroad bed paths as well as single-track terrain.
Hiking – hike on your own or join a nature walk with a park ranger – southern WV has trails for everyone’s abilities. Hike to the top of a ridge to enjoy views like no other or take a stroll through the woods and see the flora and fauna indigenous to our region.
Fishing – offering some of the best small mouth bass and trout fishing anywhere – our streams, creeks and rivers are a fisherman’s paradise.
Horseback Riding – see some of the most spectacular views on horseback – great family adventure!
Rock Climbing & Rappelling – the New River Gorge area is quickly becoming known as THE place to climb.
Skiing – southern WV is home to the most accessible, affordable ski resort in the southeast. Only 2 minutes off I-77, Winterplace Ski Resort offers skiing upon Flat Top Mountain, Elevation 3,600 feet. Winterplace offers 27 trails, a terrain park, 9 lifts and WV’s largest snow tubing park with 16 lanes.
Referred to as the Grand Canyon of the East, the New River is nestled in the mountains of Southern West Virginia. A variety of trips are available on the 53-mile stretch of the New River, designated a National Historic River in 1996. Visitors can fish, relax on a raft or duckie (inflatable kayak) trip on the Upper New with its’ mild to moderate ripples or take on the Lower New big water rapids, great for all levels of experience. New River season begins in April and runs through October. The New is a free-flowing river and boasts a different experience every time.
Attracting rafters from around the globe, the Gauley River, located in Summersville, is a dam-released river and has a scheduled release season starting the Friday after Labor Day and going for six weekends – a 22 day season. (Reservations are highly recommended). The 26-mile stretch of river is divided into two sections; the Lower Gauley with its’ combination of spectacular scenery and challenging rapids offers an awesome experience for the beginner or intermediate rafter (minimum ages do apply). This trip is recommended as next in the sequence, after the Lower New, in your whitewater achievements.
The Upper Gauley, often referred to as the ultimate in whitewater challenges, is a super-charged rafting experience. A rafting participant on this section of river will experience a rush of adrenaline as they and their raft-mates pour over “Sweets Falls”, a 16-foot waterfall placed neatly in the middle of the rafting excursion, and again as the crew careens toward a huge boulder, duly-named “Pillow Rock”. These are merely a taste of the major rapids rafters will encounter on this adventure. Minimum ages apply – previous experience highly recommended for this section of river. Contact 800-VISIT-WV for a list of outfitters.
Southern West Virginia is a place where the preservation of culture and history is on the rise. Already set in place are many historic sites that shaped the Appalachian culture. The coal, lumber and railroad industries were among the major contributors to this rich culture. The historic town of Hinton, in Summers County, depicts the railroad era from the coal and lumber days. Fayetteville, Union, Lewisburg and Summersville are among the many places that harbor Civil War Sites. The New and Greenbrier River regions are also rich in Native American History.
The Midland Trial, (119 miles) a primary travel route pre-pioneer to present –day, cuts across central southern West Virginia. Experience the journey across the mountains and along the rivers and learn of the development of our region and the nation. The route, now known as Route 60, is a scenic byway that witnessed the education of Booker T. Washington, the journey of Mary Draper Ingles, the adventures of Daniel Boone, the leadership of George Washington . . . to name a few. This byway is rich with historical homes, museums, industrial heritage, arts & crafts and more.
Great Family Destinations – Discover the wilderness settings of southern WV’s State Parks. Pipestem & Twin Falls Resorts are both open year round with lodges, cabins and outdoor activities. Babcock State Park, home of Glade Creek Gristmill, is a must see and a tram ride at Hawks Nest State park followed by a Jet Boat ride on the New River is a great side trip. Other wonderful parks to visit include Greenbrier, Bluestone, Grandview, Lake Stephens, Little Beaver, Pinnacle Rock, Panther State Forest and Moncove Lake.
Go underground in southern WV with a tour into a once-operational coal mine in Beckley, WV. A wise, retired coal miner will spin a tale of an era that served a major role in the shaping of West Virginia’s culture and heritage. At the Beckley Exhibition Coal mine, families can learn a bit of history together. Located next to the coal mine is a wonderful place for kids . . . The Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia. The Museum has a variety of activities and hands-on exhibits and is also home to The Mountain Homestead, a replica of a small pioneer community.
Continuing underground, two great places to explore are Lost World Caverns and Organ Cave located in Greenbrier County. The large rooms and spectacular formations of Lost World Caverns await your visit and history beckons you to see where General Lee’s troops lived in Organ Cave during the Civil War.
There always seems to be a great event going on in our region. Historical, heritage and artisan fairs and festivals highlight our annual calendar. Here is a sample of annual events that will get you excited about a trip to southern WV. For a complete listing of events visit our online calendar.
May – The New River Birding & Nature Festival
Enjoy viewing nature by vehicle or go birding by boat! The week long festival will culminate with a bird-a-thon to raise money for conservation and bird education similar to the World Series of Birding.
June - Daniel Vineyards Annual Wine Festival
This Annual Wine festival features many West Virginia wineries, fabulous music, local artisans and wonderful food from local restaurants.
July – John Henry Days Festival
The legend of how John Henry beat the steam drill is well known all over the country. This three day festival in Talcott, WV features unique events and demonstrations, children’s activities and fabulous musical entertainment.
August – State Fair of West Virginia
It’s not just the blue ribbons that keep farmers, crafters, bakers and others coming back year after year. This ten day fair explores the culture and heritage of West Virginia’s people. Stellar entertainment and rides complete this event.
October - Bridge Day
More than 200,000 people converge over the course of this one day festival held annually on the third Saturday in October. BASE jumpers parachute off the New River Gorge Bridge and Rapellers descend on ropes.
December – Appalachian Coal Town Christmas
A fabulous Holiday weekend feature three days packed with sights, sounds, fragrances and flavors of an Appalachian Coal Town. Highlighted by underground holiday lighted coal mine tours, the weekend features a parade, horse and buggy ridge, carolers and more.
Nestled throughout southern West Virginia’s hills and valleys you will find some of the best cabins and vacation rentals for relaxation, romance or a family getaway. With the demand for high quality rentals in southern WV the options just keep getting better. Fully equipped kitchens, quality bedding, linens and towels are standard – hot tubs, Jacuzzis, outdoor & indoor fireplaces and gas grills highlight the amenities added to these area vacation cabins.
Southern West Virginia is home to some very talented and unique artisans. So many, in fact, southern West Virginia built the nation’s first structure designed to house a collection of West Virginia hand-made crafts, arts and cuisine. Tamarack is “The Best of West Virginia.”
Visitors discover 59,000 square feet of juried crafts, working art studios, theaters, wildlife, festival meadows, trails, gardens, and West Virginia foods all under one roof.
Tamarack builds on the inherent resources of West Virginia, providing an opportunity for residents to cultivate their craft, and for visitors to enjoy an unprecedented cultural experience.
But don’t stop there! Southern West Virginia also offers great antiquing opportunities, pottery shops, specialty food stores, art galleries and more.