While you’re working on your last-second resolutions, how about tacking on an outdoor adventure?  Southern WV is the best place to knock out all of your outdoor thrills. 

West Virginia Adventures

We’ve put together a list of adventures you should add to your resolutions, categorized by skill and thrill level. Then, we created a calendar of the best times of year to try each activity.

This calendar will also give you tips about when each sport is at its peak, and tell you what other activities are available that time of year, so you can plan to check more than one off your list in the same trip.

What should I try in 2013?

Biking/ Hiking

Climbing & Rappeling
New River Rafting

Skydiving / Biplane Rides
Duckie the Gauley Rafting

When’s the best time to mark it off your list?

Ski * * 

With the temperatures down and the snow pumping at its peak levels, January is the best time to hit Winterplace Ski Resort. With classes for beginners as young as 4 and advanced trails for the more experienced, skiing is the perfect trip for a mixed-skill level family or group. The certified trainers can get everyone sliding with (some) grace, or you get to retake their courses.

Open: December – February
Also in January: Snowboard, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Cave, BridgeWalk, Horseback ride, snowshoe

Horseback Ride * 

While the snow is still settled over The Mountain State, take in the crystalline scenery with a trail ride through the cascading hills. Take in the natural beauty with a half-day ride. It’s easy for anyone to learn to ride a trail horse, with just a touch of balance. You can spend time chatting and bonding as your steeds stroll through the mountain passages. Bundle up! It will be chilly in this part of the state. You might want to bring along a thermos and some hot cider or chocolate.

Open: Year-round
Also in February: Ski, Snowboard, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Cave, BridgeWalk, snowshoe


Swinging off of the snowy season, you never know quite what March will bring. And that surprise is perfect for an ATV trip (ATV does mean All-Terrain Vehicle!)

Burning Rock‘s expansive trails will be open, and beginners can get training from an experienced guide. Younger riders can even hop aboard a UTV, a 4-seated trail vehicle. The last week of March is the Moonshine Run, a charity poker run that drew more than 100 riders in 2012.

Another great option is The Hatfield-McCoy Trails.  Over 500+ miles of trails located in the mountains of southern West Virginia.  One of the largest off-highway vehicle trail systems in the world offering trails for every skill level.

Open: Year-round.
Also in March: Raft the New River, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Cave, BridgeWalk, Rock climb, Rappel, Horseback ride,  Go fishing

Rock Climb and Rappel ** 

Score a trip to yourself by booking a rock climbing trip before the rush. While it can be a physical challenge, taking your time on a beginners’ course will build your confidence. You’ll be scrambling up the intermediate climbs on your first guided trip. It’ll be warm enough to be comfortable, but you’ll still be in long sleeves to protect you from any little scrapes. After you’re comfortable with your equipment and trust your guide, end by taking control of your adventure and rappel, lowering yourself from the cliff to the ground.

Open: March-  December.
Also in April: Raft the New River, Duckie the Gauley, Skydive, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Cave, BridgeWalk, Horseback ride, Go fishing

Skydive / Biplane * * * 

When the April showers fade away and the skies are clear, the planes and parachutes will be flying. Adventure-seekers 18 and older can leap any weekend in May with the West Virginia Skydivers. Strap yourself to a licensed diver and effortlessly fall thousands of feet through the sky. Or, up the action and add on a solo jump! You have to complete a day of training, then an instructor will accompany you before you take the dive by yourself. Then, come back in October for Bridge Day to watch jumpers from all over the country fly off the New River Gorge Bridge.

For those looking for aerial thrills, but do not want to jump, a scenic biplane ride with Wild Blue Adventure Company may be right up your alley.  Want to spice it up? Add aerobatics!

Open: April- November. 
Also in May: Raft the New River, Duckie the Gauley, Orb the Gorge, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Cave, BridgeWalk, Rock climb, Rappel, Horseback ride, Go fishing, Kayaking

Raft the New River **

Water levels will be on the rise! That means giant swirling waves on the Lower New, so take a raft trip and catch them before they simmer down to a ripple. Get your raft rattled in pinball and zig-zagged at Double-Z. The most action-packed time of year for the Lower New is also a great time for a more mellow float down the Upper New, with splashing waves the kids can paddle through, too.

Open: March-November
Also in June: Duckie the Gauley, Orb the Gorge, Skydive, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Cave, BridgeWalk, Rock climb, Rappel, Horseback ride, Go fishing, Stand-Up  Paddleboarding, Bridge Walk, Kayaking

Duckie the Gauley * * *

If you’re confident enough in your paddling skills, give the middle Gauley a run in a duckie. It doesn’t sound very intimidating, but It’s actually an inflatable kayak, so you’ll be steering it by yourself instead of with a team like in a raft. The inflatables have better stability in the rapids than a normal kayak, and you won’t have to learn how to exit or roll the boat back over, because you aren’t strapped in. Guides can teach you how to paddle through small rapids, then help you safely navigate a few Class 3 and 4 waves by yourself.

Open: April- August
Also in July: Raft the New River, Orb the Gorge, Skydive, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Cave, BridgeWalk, Rock climb, Rappel, Horseback ride, Go fishing, Stand-Up Paddleboarding, Kayaking

Bike/ Hike *

Set off to tour the most gorgeous points in Southern WV by foot or pedal. The trails weave through the landscape, with short paths for a brisk stroll or obstacle-laden courses for a challenging mountain ride. The outdoors will be buzzing, and many of the flowers will still be flourishing. Just pick paths that fit your skill level, and hit the trail!

Open:  Year-round
Also in August:  Duckie the Gauley, Raft the New River, Skydive, Biplane ride, Orb the Gorge, ATV, Zipline, Cave, BridgeWalk, Horseback ride, Go fishing, Stand-Up Paddleboarding,  Kayaking

Raft the Gauley * * * 

Gear up for the ride of your life! If you’ve had some experience with a paddle, you might be ready to face the “Big 5,” the formidable Class V rapids that line the Upper Gauley. One of the top trips in the world, this run is only available for a few days out of each year. The scheduled dam releases that rouse the river’s thrashing rapids also raise up the slightly less wild Lower and Middle Gauley runs.

Open: Opens the Friday after Labor Day, water is released Friday – Monday for five consecutive weekends.  The sixth weekend is Saturday/Sunday only.
Also in September: Raft the New River, Orb the Gorge, Skydive, Biplane rides,  ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Caving, BridgeWalk, Rock climb, Rappel, Horseback ride, Go fishing,  Kayaking

Zipline *

Slip through the skies and get an aerial view of WV’s ‘greenery’ as its colors are set ablaze by the autumn transformation. Late October ushers in brilliant hillsides enflamed with the full spectrum of yellows, reds and oranges. Fly through the fiery hues as they blend together, because you’re speeding through the canopies at more than 40 miles per hour. It might seem scary, but a few simple bunny zips to show you how safe you are will calm your nerves completely and get you pumped for the longer rides.

Open: Year-round
Also in October: Raft the Gauley, Raft the New River, Orb the Gorge, Skydive, Biplane Rides, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Caving, BridgeWalk, Rock climb, Rappel, Horseback ride, Kayaking

Caving *

Temperatures will be plummeting, but there’s one outdoor spot that maintains a cool temperature all year-round. Escape the biting November chills by ducking into Lost World Caverns for a solid (and still slightly chilly) 52 degrees. Or, if some precious gemstones would tempt you to face the elements, you can dig around at Someplace Special Gem Mine. You get to keep what you find, but call ahead if the weather is bad to ensure the mine is open.

Open: Year-round
Also in November: Raft the New River, Skydive, Biplane rides, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, BridgeWalk, Rock climb, Rappel, Horseback ride

Snowboard * * 

Sweep down the slopes in style: pick one plank instead of two. Balance and maneuver on a snowboard all the way down the slopes, or play around on Winterplace‘s freestyle terrain park. Catch air when you leap over the sets of obstacles set up to play around on as you learn to feel out the board. Maybe you’l even master a few tricks before you’re done.

Open:  December – February
Also in December: Ski, ATV, Zipline, Bike, Hike, Cave, BridgeWalk, Rock climb, Rappel, Horseback ride, snowshoe
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