SWV: 7 ways to stay active this winter

Lost World Caverns

Burn calories and have a snow day, too!

Winter is winding down, but cold-weather games are still afoot in Southern West Virginia. Ski, explore caverns, and go where no hibernating bear has gone before!

Check out these attractions and activities:

1. Winterplace Ski Resort

Southern West Virginia’s biggest, most extensive ski resort has no trouble putting “play” and “exercise” into the same sentence.

For starters, Winterplace has 27 slopes and 2 terrain parks. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or seasoned skier, either. There are enough trails for every level.

The 20-lane tubing park is a blast, too. Plop yourself into a fat inner tube and let gravity do the rest. Even better, you can ski and tube at night. Imagine how many calories you’ll burn all day! Actually, scratch that — you’ll be having too much fun to care.

Winterplace extends the winter season into March, so you have a few weeks left to play!

2. Wild Cave Tours

No matter how cold it gets this winter, caves have a steady thermostat year round. Lost World Caverns stays cool at 52 degrees, so bring a light jacket and get ready to explore its enormous chambers and formations!

Go slow and steady with a self-guided walk, or take things up a notch with a Wild Cave Tour. A guide will lead you on a 4-hour trek through the cavern. Stoop and twist through nooks and crannies; you’ll visit formations and chambers that most tourists don’t get to see!

Your trip includes equipment, refreshments, showers and a hot lunch. You’ll also get a complimentary CD and photos. Not bad for a winter’s walk!

3. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

At Pipestem Resort State Park, March 17-19 goes beyond Irish soda bread and corned beef.

On St. Patrick’s Day, join rangers for a special hike at 10:00 a.m. then swing by the Nature Center. It will stay open from 12:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday gets even better with horseback rides and open stable visits starting at 9:00 a.m. Fill up on Irish-American dishes at the Bluestone DIning Room, then hang around for Irish Road Bowling games at 2 p.m.

Then, on Sunday, naturalists will have a winter bird count at 10:00 a.m. Help them scan the skies and burn calories while you’re at it!

4. Bridge Walk

Hiking 1.25 miles might be tedious anywhere else, but not in Southern West Virginia. Sign up for a Bridge Walk, which covers that exact distance but boasts sky-high views!

Your trek happens beneath the dramatic New River Gorge Bridge, the longest steel-arch span in the Americas at 3,030 feet. Board the catwalk and cross the canyon with a guide; you’ll be securely harnessed the entire distance. The tour is a leisurely 2-3 hours, so you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities. Imagine the shots you’ll capture of the gorge, which sprawls more than 800 feet below your boots.

Bridge Walk has special deals, too. Tickets are just $54 on March 12 (Daylight Saving Time) and St. Patrick’s Day.

5. Outside-In Climbing Gym

Snowstorms can be a real bummer. Fortunately, Outside-In Climbing Gym has a “mountain” you can tackle when the real thing is too icy!

Keep your skills sharp on a 35-foot wall, which sports notice and advanced routes. You can also try a new highline that’s just 2 inches wide … and 12 feet off the floor.

No matter your experience, professional belayers and staff will help you out with tips and equipment.

6. Zipping along

Many resorts limit activities in winter, but not when it comes to aerial adventures in Southern West Virginia.

ACE Adventure Resort’s Canopy Tour stays open year round— even at night. Fly above snow-covered slopes on 9 zip lines, including the 40-mph “Rigor Mortis.” If you’re especially bold, try a dual zip that goes backwards! The tour also has a wobble bridge and a span that crosses Rush Run Creek— a breathtaking experience.

The TreeTops Zip Line Canopy Tour at Adventures on the Gorge also keeps your heart pumping with 10 zips, 5 aerial bridges and a rappel station. In between, pause and soak in the gorge from tree platforms.

7. Greenbrier River Trail

Even if snow prevents you from jogging or pedaling a road bike, you can always walk. That’s where the Greenbrier River Trail comes into play. Its 78 miles of trails are flat and especially picturesque in winter. Traipse through old train tunnels and wander past ghost towns.

You’ll also see railroad remnants. Long ago, engineers would blow whistles whenever they passed white posts with “w” imprinted on them. See if you can find 1 or 2.

Which activity sounds like fun to you?