What’s The Big Deal With The New River Gorge?

Fayette County, West Virginia has a secret.  It’s one of the world’s oldest places.  And that’s mainly due to the New River Gorge.

Sight-seeing in the New River Gorge


How do we know?  Read on…

Back before it was called Fayette County, about 500 million years ago, the New River Gorge drained the entire Appalachian Mountain Range, a lot like an ancient Mississippi river.  Everything that wasn’t under water or under ice drained into the New.

Fast forward to right now.  The New still cuts it’s same path down through the same ancient rock, but now you can visit without getting eaten by a T-Rex or a giant carnivorous slug.

In fact, Fayette County is a getaway destination for people all over the world.  The river and it’s shockingly good whitewater are the big draw, but there’s a lot more to see than just the “Grand Canyon Of the East”.  Fayco, as the locals call it, is a pretty big deal.

The area definitely benefits from having so many people from so many different places come in to visit.  That fact alone turns a lot of the fare from “food” into “cuisine”, without necessarily jacking the prices way up.

The result?  Great food just about anywhere you go around the gorge.   And it’s authentic.  Real Central American food that goes way beyond typical Mexican dishes, or the best Cajun broil outside of Louisiana. Sammies and salads, breakfast cafes, and just about anything else you’d like to scarf down is ready and available.

The New River Gorge is the place you want to go to find the otherwise unfindable.  From fine art to folk crafts, there are plenty of shops around the gorge to let your shopping bug run wild.

One place visitors might not expect to find good shopping is at the local whitewater outfitters shops.  These stores usually carry items that outshine the typical “T-shirts and Shot Glasses” inventory of most gift shops.  Oh, they carry that stuff, too, but you’re just as likely to find prints and other art that shows off the soul of the river.  They’re well worth checking out.

See And Do
The name of the game in Fayette County is white water rafting in the New River Gorge and on the Gauley River.  These rivers are the standards by which all others in the Appalachian Mountains are judged.  If you like doing stuff outside, it has to be on your list.

Here’s what you need to know about white water rafting:  it’s fun.  That’s it.  Everything else is just details.  The trips are easy to arrange, and the outfitters, no matter which one you choose, can pretty much take care of everything you need for your whole stay.   Just know that you can do super-adrenaline rafting trips, and lazy river kiddie trips, all with the same outfitter.

Then, there’s all the other stuff.  It’s pretty much a smorgasboard of outdoor bliss; anything you want to do outside, you can do in the gorge.  And the coolest part is, you get a local expert along for the ride.  Another cool part is that it’s not an amusement Park, and these aren’t rides.  This is the real deal- outdoor adventure that people can actually go and do on a vacation.

Other Stuff
Fayette County is also a good place for history buffs.  Civil war reenactments, interpretive natural history hikes, and plenty of old-timers who’ll tell you about growing up in the coal camps of the New River Gorge (that last one is my personal favorite) are all worth a visit.

Fayette county also has a vibrant music scene.  Again, this has a lot to do with the rafting companies, but there’s always live music somewhere to be seen out and about in the Gorge.

And that’s why Fayette County is a big deal.  There is quite literally always something to do, along with great places to stay, fine food, and friendly people.  There’s a lot to experience up in the New River Gorge, so make sure that you check it out when you visit southern West Virginia.

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