“See” What there is to love in Fayette County, WV

World-class whitewater rafting, climbing, fishing, cuisine — Fayette County, WV, is standout among small outdoor areas for many reasons.

“Our claim to fame is whitewater rafting,” said Bobby Bower of Pro River Outfitters. “You can come see the New River 4-5 different times, and see a completely different environment each time with the change of water through seasons.”

In recent interviews for a video about the county, local leaders also said that with such diverse natural landscapes in the New River Gorge— lush rolling mountain terrain, steep sandstone cliffsides, and swirling rapids— whitewater is not the only world-class adventure worth traveling to the area for.

“You can come and play for 5, 7 days, and see something different each day,” said Bower said. “Some like to climb. Some like to hike. The biking trails are phenomenal. The smallmouth fishing is world-renowned. It’s just a gorgeous place to come and get away.”

The Fayetteville area has also become a destination for rock climbers and other adventurers, like BASE jumpers, who convene on the iconic New River Gorge Bridge once a year for the largest BASE festival in the world, Bridge Day.

“That’s the day that literally hundreds of thousands people come from all over the world to look at the bridge, which is a real wonder,” said Doug Maddy of the Visit Southern West Virginia. “I would start there, then branch out and do whatever you want to do.”

Amidst the outdoor tourism boom, other industries have grown: creative cuisine from local chefs, and local artisan shops.

“Now we can really claim that Fayetteville has become a dining destination,” said Lewis Rhinehart, owner of the Secret Sandwich Society. “We have 5 or 6 great restaurants in town, all unique. People surprised by quality of food they can get here, and they’re surprised by the hospitality.”

Because of the diverse natural resources that helped the area grow one of the nations “Coolest Small Towns,” Fayette County also has a rich history that litters the Gorge with coal heritage, like abandoned mining towns, an old company store (now a museum) and long-unlit coke ovens.

“I would always advise people to branch out and not get locked into one activity or one location,” said climbing guide Erin Yakim. “There’s so many different things to see, and so many businesses that offer something different.”

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