What’s The Big Deal With Nicholas County?August 26, 2009
In the northernmost reaches of Southern West Virginia (?!) are the beautiful rolling hills of Nicholas County. It’s the gateway to
West Virginia’s mountain lakes region, and there’s a lot going on up that-a-way.
First up on the Nicholas County list of cool things is, of course, the world famous Gauley River. Nicholas shares the big time whitewater part of the Gauley with Fayette County, it’s fine neighbor to the south, and they are brought together once every year for the phenomenon known as Gauley Season.
Gauley Season starts the weekend after Labor Day Weekend and rolls into mid-October. During that time, the whitewater world descends on the Nicholas county area for food, recreation, and some of the wildest excitement this side of, well, northern West Virginia.
Nicholas County famously won the war to host Gauley Fest, the largest whitewater festival in the world. Gauley fest is a little hard to describe- part trade show, part family reunion, and part outdoor nightclub is probably as close as anyone is going to get. One thing’s for sure: if you go, you’ll never forget it.
Nicholas county also gets to claim what’s on the other side of the dam there on the Gauley River – Summersville Lake. The lake is often referred to by divers as the “Little Bahamas Of The East”. That’s a bit confusing, as the original Bahamas are also little and located, well, east. But who cares? It only means that the diving is fantastic, clear, and scenic.
The lake also boasts something lakes are not really famous for – great climbing. A lot of the river outfitters (and all of the area’s climbing outfitters) take climbing trips to the sheer sandstone walls that rise straight up out of the lake. It’s the perfect place to go if you want to have a climbing experience that’s way, way out of the ordinary.
Beyond the lake is the town of Summersville, the county seat. Summersville is not unlike some other towns in southern West Virginia in that its buildings are beautiful, its people are friendly, and its food is outstanding. Anyone visiting southern West Virginia from the north owes it to themselves to stop over in Summersville and hang out for a while.
Summersville also attracts plenty of art, music, and culture from the rest of the county, and puts it all in one place. The town often hosts touring productions of plays, big name music acts, and entertainment of every stripe. The performing artists that come through are eclectic and interesting; they make it always worth checking out the Nicholas County calendar of events.
Wasn’t music mentioned there a while back? Nicholas County hosts what’s often the country’s biggest bluegrass festival, Music in the Mountains. For almost 30 years, the lineup at Music in the Mountains has gotten bigger and better. It’s a staple for the festival crowd, and a sight for any and all travelers to see.
Plus, there’s tons of other stuff to see and do in Nicholas County. This is just a tiny fraction of it.