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Bridge Day Highlights

A massive structure like the New River Gorge Bridge deserves a massive festival, and Bridge Day

New River Gorge Bridge - Ed Goody Photography

does not disappoint. From the 450 BASE jumpers to the 200+ vendors to the 300 or so rappellers, this southern West Virginia festival goes big in every category.  It was even planned to take advantage of the 100 different colors of peak fall foliage.  It’s no wonder more than 80,000 people show up to enjoy this fall favorite.

The New River Gorge is world-renowned for its beauty and plethora of outdoor adventures. Bridge Day is just the icing on this wonderful cake, adding some extra frosting via rappelling, high lining and BASE jumping. These are some of the activities going on for the adventure-seeking crowd; below is a list of activities for other Bridge Day visitors.

* Try the Local Cuisine – The Taste of Bridge Day is a local fundraiser and takes place at Adventures on the Gorge on Friday, October 14.  Come out and experience some of the area’s best food from local restaurants and caterers.

* Bridge Day Car Show – If you have a special ride or you’re just a motorhead, this display of automobiles is worth taking in. Located right off Rt. 19 at the Quality Inn, it goes on from 10 am to 4 pm.
* Whitewater Rafting – Want to enjoy a view of the bridge, see some jumpers and have a little adventure of your own?  Book a Lower New River rafting trip and enjoy both.
* Downtown Fayetteville – Don’t forget that Fayetteville offers a bunch of Bridge Day activities too. From the pancake breakfast at the American Legion at 6am to the Chili and Cornbread Cookoff, live music and Cornhole Tournament going on from 1pm until 6pm, Fayetteville is a great stop after your day on the Bridge winds down.

If you’re here for Bridge Day and curious as to what else may be going on, just find yourself a local and ask. You’ll get the lowdown on all the other great activities that may be happening.

No matter what you do, just enjoy the beauty of southern West Virginia in the fall.  It is one of the best times to be here.

Why Southern WV is the Best Place For Your Family Reunion

Families, no matter where they are from, are diverse. There are older members, younger members, wild members, calm members, go-getters, and slow-movers.  It is this diversity that makes families fun and unique.

But diversity can also present a challenge when trying to organize a family get-together. All kinds of

Family Time in WV

people can make it hard to find activities to satisfy everyone.

So when it comes to things to do, Southern WV is hard to beat. Whether you’re into high-adventure sports or relaxing leisure activities, this area provides great opportunities for all.
Let’s look at how the diversity of this area makes it a great place for a family reunion.

Getting The Family Together

Depending on the size and make-up of your group, getting everyone together can often be tough. Southern West Virginia has many large campgrounds and cabin rentals.  If some of the family likes to camp and others don’t, many of the cabins are extremely close to campgrounds. There  are also many hotels in the area.

Some of the adventure resorts in the area even have both campgrounds and cabins located on their property. Keeping the group together and everyone comfortable is an easy task if you let the resort professionals help you through the process.

Keep The Family Entertained

Even if Aunt Barb thinks everyone in the family would love a group outing to look at the world’s biggest rubberband ball, chances are you’re never going to get everyone in a large group to do everything together.  So having a plethora of things to do makes it much easier to keep everyone entertained. Here’s a list of just some of the activities families can do (together or on their own) in southern West Virginia.

* Rafting
* Hiking
* Mountain Biking
* Rock Climbing
* Fishing
* ATV riding
* Zip lining
* Swimming
* Boating
* Horseback Riding
* Caving
* Paintball
* Golf
* Antiquing

(And no, the world’s largest rubberband ball is not here in southern WV.  But we do have the longest steel arch bridge in the western hemisphere.)

Look To Resorts for Convenience

One of the best options to consider is a package that includes lodging, activities, and meals.  Many area resorts are now packaging all of these options together to make planning easy.  Some even provide discounts depending on group numbers and length of stay.

So when you start planning your family reunion, remember southern West Virginia. You’ll make memories that will last a lifetime.

When was your last WV reunion?

Where The Locals Dine

Anytime you visit a new place, there’s one question you should ask: “Where do the locals go?”

Whether it’s hiking, biking, shopping, or relaxing, locals are the key to finding those sometimes overlooked or unknown places in your vacation destination. At no time are locals more helpful than when trying to decide where to dine.

Searching out the best local cuisine can sometimes be a tough task.  But never fear, we’re here to

Pie from Pies and Pints

share some restaurants with you that locals can’t get enough of!

Where To Go, What to Eat

According to locals, these are just a few of their favorite eating-out spots:

* Pies and Pints- This restaurant features handcrafted pizza and beer, and beer and handcrafted pizza. Need we say more?  Locals liked it so much that they branched out from their Fayetteville location and opened a second restaurant in Charleston.
* Gumbos – In Fayetteville, Gumbo’s has a Cajun-influenced menu featuring  good southern cuisine.
* Pasquale Mira-   This Beckley restaurant has been serving the area’s best Italian food for 50 years.
* Diogis-  Also in Fayetteville, here you’ll find excellent Mexican cuisine with a bit of El Salvadoran style.
* Chetty’s Pub- After a day of rafting with Adventures on the Gorge, Monday night wing night is a must.
* The Char- Looking for a formal dining option?  Go to The Char, one of Beckley’s finest restaurants.
* The Market at Courthouse Square in Hinton, WV.  Extraordinary pizza, sandwiches, baked good and gelato.  Sandwiches have railroad themed names.  Awesome small town dining open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
* The Bramwell Cafe- Country food at it’s best and just like mom used to make.
* Tamarack- Featuring a menu create by The Greenbrier, the fried green tomatoes are a must-try.  And after you dine, you’ll have the chance to view lots of West Virginia crafts and artisans at work.

Each of these places (and many other southern WV restaurants) has good eats and some endearing qualities that make it special to locals.

Do you have a favorite Southern WV Restaurant?

Beyond the Bridge – 14 Must-Try West Virginia Adventures

Since the New River Gorge Bridge was completed in 1977, it has been a marvel admired by millions.  1977 was a time even before whitewater rafting was a  popular tourism

Ranger Led Hike - Enjoying the View

activity.  The completion of the Bridge was a very significant step in the progress of southern West Virginia becoming a substantial outdoor vacation destination.

The present day New River Gorge area is abundant with a multitude of outdoor activities to keep the adventurous (and even the not so adventurous) vacationer busy.  Even if you’ve vacationed in this area for years, you may be surprised to find new activities popping up all the time.  Below is a list of adventures that can be enjoyed all within a 20 minute drive of the New River Gorge Bridge.

  •   Whitewater Rafting- Some rafting companies offer packages that include many other adventures.
  •   Canoeing and Kayaking- Our rivers have sections that will allow the most novice or expert paddler to enjoy themselves.
  •    Rock Climbing- Either on your own or a guided tour, this area offers climbing for any level of experience.
  •    Mountain Biking- Trails from beginner to advanced, the Gorge will test the mettle of even the best bikers.  Lots of outfitters even offer bike rentals.
  •   Hiking- There are trails for all ages and fitness levels.
  •   ATV Riding- We have some of the most beautiful riding scenery you’ll find anywhere in the United States
  •   Horseback Rides- A wonderful way to enjoy the beauty of the Gorge.
  •   Heritage Tourism - There are a multitude of historical areas to explore in southern West Virginia.
  •   Fishing- From floating the rivers to boating the lakes, the area fishing spots won’t disappoint.
  •   Boating- There are lots of beautiful lakes to enjoy here.
  •   Zip lines- They’ve popped up everywhere in the Gorge; you’ve gotta give zip lining a try.
  •   Camping – From state parks to private campgrounds, you can find an area that best fits your camping style
  •   Skydiving- Get a birds-eye view of the Gorge while trying not to scream.
  •   Bi-plane rides- See the description above.

While many of these activities can be done on your own,  most can also be arranged with a guide.  Many companies are activity specific and specialize in making sure their guests have an enjoyable, safe experience.

So what are you going to try?

It’s Time! Spring = Whitewater Season

Early rainfalls have created a great opening for whitewater rafting season.  Some outfitters started running trips as early as March!  But April was, officially,  the beginning of 7 months full of

Whitewater Rafting in West Virginia

whitewater fun and adventure.

This year’s Spring rainfall has been incredible so rafters can expect to go farther faster with great runs and holes full of excitement.

The whitewater outfitters in southern WV  have added even more adventure options this year – enabling you to not only plan a trip to raft but also add ziplining, horseback riding, or even skydiving to your itinerary.

Looking for adventure this Spring?  Well look no further.  Southern WV has professional outdoor adventure outfitters who can plan your raft trip, book your lodging, schedule your add on adventures and even help you plan your meals.

So what are you waiting for . . .

Raising the Curtain on Theatre Season

If we had to give you a top 10 list of things to do while visiting Southern WV – taking in a show at one of our theatres would be up there. Here we’re fortunate to

Honey In The Rock - Performed Annually by Theatre WV

have three theatre companies that put on some 20-30 different plays throughout the year.

And in summer, they take their seasons to a whole new level with a complete repertory calendar full of great work. Award winning plays like “Ring of Fire”, “Smoke on the Mountain Homecoming” and “All Shook Up” are all in rehearsal now for this summer while new original works are also hitting the stage, including a musical version of West Virginia’s own “Rocket Boys.”

Here in Southern WV, our stages have been set for live theatre for nearly 75 years.   In 1938, a “modern playhouse” opened in Fayetteville – now the Historic Fayette Theatre.  Seventeen years later Theatre West Virginia was founded and a short 10 years later, Greenbrier Valley Theatre was born on the banks of the Greenbrier River. Today the venues offer tremendous talent and set the stage with professional facilities.

If you’re visiting the Mountain State this summer – be sure and take in one of their many shows.  Some feature professional-equity actors while others use great community thespians.  Either way, these are shows you won’t want to miss.

Can’t Miss Fall Festivals

Streets lined with food.  Beer gardens.  Celebrations 876 ft in the air.  These are what West Virginia festivals are made of and over the next two weekends there are lots of lip-smacking events to

Rappeller w/ US & WV State Flags/ Bridge Day

choose from.  Here are some insider tips on what’s new with these can’t miss fall festivals:

* Taste Of Our Towns (TOOT) Festival – Lewisburg.  Saturday, October 9.  The event staff has told us this will be the largest TOOT yet – with 18 additional food vendors lining the street of this historic town. New food finds will include Stella’s, a tea house coming soon and two additional wineries.

* Bramwell’s Oktoberfest – Bramwell.  Saturday, October 9 – This year’s event features 11 bands to set the stage for this fun event.  Your $18 ticket (or $20 at the door) includes all the live entertainment and all the beer tastings you can hold until they run out.  Some additional food vendors and artists have also been added.

* Bridge Day – Fayetteville.  October 15-16 – Friday October 15th from 5-9 pm is Taste of Bridge Day @ Smokey’s on The Gorge and on Saturday the 16th is the 31st annual Bride Day Festival – the only day it’s legal to walk across the New River Gorge Bridge.

Don’t miss the new Hometown Subaru Down Under Tour.  With a ticket, you can be taken down below to watch the BASE jumpers and rappellers riverside.  And the tour comes with lunch!

Plan now to be among the tens of thousands of festival goers that will transcend on the Mountain State in search of great fall celebrations.  Where are you spending your weekend?

Boy Scouts, Southern West Virginia, A Natural Fit

It was announced today that the Boy Scouts are coming to West Virginia.

Like, all of them.  At once.

It’s big news. Around here, everyone knows that the scouts just purchased an enormous 10,000+ acre facility.  It’s right on the New River Gorge, and will be home to a new Boy Scout High Adventure Base, slated to open in 2014.

But it was unclear if the Boy Scout National Jamboree, a once-every-four-years event, would be held here.

Until now.

This is like the Boy Scout Olympics crossed with an old mountain Rendezvous, with the X-Games tossed in for good measure.  How many people come to the Jamboree?  Try 200,000.

That’s a lot of bandanas.  Or, I guess they call them kerchiefs.  Whatever- it’s awesome.

We’re celebrating.  You should too.  We’re happy to have an organization like the scouts in or backyard.  I mean, you want to talk about good neighbors?  They’re trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

Can you think of someone better to call if you need something like a cup of sugar late at night?  Or an improvised splint made out of driftwood?

These High Adventure Bases are a big deal.  Three exist right now- the Sea Base in the Florida Keys, the Northern Tier Base in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, and the Philmont Ranch Base in the high desert mountains of New Mexico.

And now, there will be one right in the heart of the Appalachians in southern West Virginia.  White water.  Mountain Biking.  Rock Climbing.  Canoeing.  Camping.  Hiking.  Orienteering.   Basically the most fun a group of boys can have in the mountains.

Wait a sec- what’s the age limit?  This sounds like fun…

What No One Knows About Bridge Day

Bridge Day Zipline

Bridge Day Zipline

Bridge Day.

Around here, those are some big words.  Everyone knows that Bridge Day is the largest festival in West Virginia.  We also know that it has to be seen to be believed.  It’s a spectacle.

That much, we can all agree on.  Bridge Day is about as cool as it gets.  But there are always other rumors, and questions, and misunderstandings about what’s going on from year to year.

So, we’re here to tell you, with this blog post, some of those little Bridge Day secrets that will make you the authority when it comes to info on the big day.  We’ve put together a group of facts, trivia, and logistical info for you to jump into (get it?  oosh- sorry)  before Bridge Day arrives.

No need to thank us :-)

1.   Bridge Day sells more funnel cake per capita than any other festival in the country.  Actually, we’re just basing that on our own love of funnel cake.  Don’t quote us on that one.

2.     Jumpers have to qualify for the lottery to get a pass to jump It’s first-come, first-served until all 450 slots are gone and they always sell out.  There’s always a ton of confusion about this one from us, the un-jumping public, on this one.  They have to have 140 100 skydive jumps before getting a ticket for the bridge.  Once they get their spot, they can jump as many times as they like from open to close. For more information for B.A.S.E. jumpers, visit http://www.bridgeday.info.

3.     Bridge Day 2009 is on Saturday, October 17.  Okay, not so secret.

4.     Taste Of Bridge Day, the eating party with all the restaurants from the New River Gorge cooking their best dishes, is on Friday night before the big day.  This party is in contention with Bridge Day itself for best event of the weekend.

5.      The First Annual Bridge Day Chili Cookoff will start just after the festivities on the bridge end on Saturday, and has one of the greatest slogans of any chili cookoff ever.  Ready for it?  “Jumping.  Beans.”  Get it?  Awesome.

6.      Bridge Day is as much about rappelling as it is about jumping.  The ropes hanging off of the bridge on Bridge Day are from 750 to 800 feet long.  There’s also a zipline hanging off the bridge that’s open to the public, if you can believe that.  You should, because it’s true.

7.    The Bridge Day website has every single piece of information about bridge day ever released.  If you have any questions about the event, click on over there to check it out.

8.     All of your photos, videos, and comments can be shared with the entire world (and definitely the Bridgeday audience) by tagging them with #bridgeday when you upload to Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, or Twitter.  You can then check out everything that everyone has said about the festival by going to the social media newsroom at Bridge Day social media newsroom

9.     All of the New River Gorge rafting outfitters have Bridge Day specials.  It’s one thing to go to a festival like this one, but it’s another thing entirely to show up via whitewater raft.

10.     No bungee jumping.

Questions?  We’d love to answer them.  Get in touch with us, and we can help plan your Bridge Day this year.  Otherwise, see you on the Bridge!

Sharing the Love of Climbing With Friends in the New River Gorge

Enjoy this post from Guest Blogger Erin from Hard Rock Climbing

I loved climbing the first very time it was introduced to me over 14 years

Learning to Climb in the Gorge

Learning to Climb in the Gorge

ago.  After my first week I bought all of my own gear.  Through out the years the time I have been able to dedicate to it changes constantly, but one thing remains, I love teaching people how to climb.  It’s what I do for a living.

My friend Holly had moved to Fayetteville over the winter and had been trying to find someone to “show her the ropes” as it were. Time schedules and weather finally lined up last week, so off to the Rico Suave Buttress we went.

It ended up being a girls’ trip which was perfect.  On the way to the crag, Holly was bombarded with climbers’ lingo and terminology.  We had already found her a pair of very uncomfortable climbing shoes. Climbing shoes are a form of modern day torture devices.  Think along the lines of ballerina slippers and/or Chinese foot binding.  The shoes are made to compress your toes so that all of your toes act as one powerful toe.  They are made with very sticky rubber so that your feet adhere to the rock.

She was suited up with a harness and two very willing instructors! She did beautifully! Her first climb was a 50 ft tall, left leaning crack.  Her foot work was great and anytime she had any questions, we were there to provide beta, or information, to coach her through the next move.  She got to the top in no time flat!
After completing two more climbs, our bellies were telling us it was time to head home.  So we packed up our gear and prepared for the hike up the hill.

It was a great day!  We shared our experience over a big plate of pasta, salad and a cold one.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

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