The undulating Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia embody the state's abundant natural beauty and colorful past. Tucked away in the mountains, Charleston, West Virginia's capital and largest city, sits only a 15-minute drive away from Nitro. At the West Virginia State Museum, 26 rooms of exhibits chronicle the mountain state's history, covering eras ranging from prehistory to frontier life and coal mining.About 15 miles from the hotel, the Kanawha State Forest hums with life, boasting 9,300 acres of flora and fauna, including 19 species of wood warblers. Twenty-five miles of hiking trails and nine mountain-biking trails crisscross dense woodlands, streams, and chipmunk duplexes.
New River Climbing School’s PCGI-trained and certified staff, led by senior cragsman David Wolff, shepherds climbers of all skill levels skyward during a variety of education-packed tours. Small groups equipped with the necessary climbing and rappelling gear—such as shoes, helmets, and microphones for amplifying yodels—follow the step-by-step instructions of experienced guides, who undergo rigid evaluations before earning a spot on the school’s team. Throughout each adventure, the New River Gorge coddles sensory receptors with an array of sites, sounds, and smells, including kaleidoscopic rock swirls and towering mountains chiseled into words of encouragement. Half-day and full-weekend tours enable the staff to further cater to guests from varying backgrounds, occupations, and experience levels.
The course itself carries on that fun vibe, too. Winding through city streets and local parks, the 5K route is dotted with hydration stations that dole out hot chocolate. Holiday music, a giant Santa inflatable, and snow blowers help to set
Since 1977, the staff at New & Gauley River Adventures has helped visitors create year-round excitement across two rivers and more than 60,000 acres of terrain. The experts customize adventures, dispensing guides and gear for exhibitions, such as kayaking and high-speed whitewater rafting. Rafts float down the New River Gorge, passing by ghost towns and jump rocks. Meanwhile, the Gauley River emerges at the base of the Summersville Dam to form Class V+ rapids and enough churning whitewater to wash all of a giant's laundry. Back on dry land, horseback-riding groups meander through pre–Civil War roads. Ziplines soar across treetop canopies, and rocky peaks beckon climbers to scale their surface. As winter spills snow on the ground, the adventurous staff turns focus to cold-weather activities, such as snowshoeing and snowmen wrestling. The company's lodging options—which include campsites and cabins— let visitors rest up between their adventures. Nestled amid lush trees, the onsite Undercut Pub & Grill readies growling stomachs for hibernation with home-cooked breakfast and pub fare.
Rivermen's New River rafting trips guide amateurs and avid aquanauts alike through some of the most scenic whitewater rapids of New River Gorge National River. Reverential rafters can drink up hearty eyefuls of the gorge and its abundant wildlife, weathered bluffs, and recognizable bridge, as seen on the West Virginia state Pog and quarter. The upper river excursion (4–6 hours, $124) traverses canyons on relatively mild waters punctuated by a few easy rapids. Easily navigable by group raft or inflatable duck (a kayak-like vessel that holds 1–2 people), the upper trip makes an enjoyable introduction to whitewater for families, beginner to intermediate rafters, and adolescent Loch Ness monsters. The lower route (4–6 hours, $134) quickens the pulse with more than 25 rapids, as well as tranquil pools and the requisite breathtaking scenery. Both tours will stop to provide lunch.
Nestled amid rustic riverside scenery, North American River Runner's 1,500-acre resort welcomes families, friends, and nature enthusiasts with a plethora of engaging al fresco entertainment. Guests can set up their own tents and equipment on the mountaintop campgrounds for two nights (a $26 value) amid peaceful, panoramic views of the surrounding forest, free from the modern world and its brilliantly colored jumbotrons. Although not included in this Groupon, campers may opt to upgrade from standard accommodations to bunkhouses or deluxe lodging for an additional fee or add on rental tents and gear, such as a flannel-lined sleeping bag and pillow ($5) or a camp kit with an assembled four-man tent and four half-inch, close-cell foam sleeping pads ($10). The grounds afford campers access to a fire pit and picnic table, as well as shower houses within walking distance for washing up or crooning. Along with one breakfast (up to a $9 value) and lunch (a $9 value), NARR's foodie-friendly dinner banquet boasts vegetarian options, tender beef brisket, and Cajun-rubbed rack of pork alongside an army of side dishes, desserts, and drinks (up to a $20 value).