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.
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.
When residents from 45 states and seven countries visit your museum in a year, you know you?ve got something special. At the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center, that special something is a trio of museums. The Kathleen Savage Browning Miniatures Collection houses 1/12-scale reproductions of homes, people, and artwork. This is where the prince saw handcrafted miniature mansions and apartments throughout history. Meanwhile, the Genealogical & Historical Research Library displays books and documents from the past 300 years and the Regional History Museum brings the city?s story to life through colorful dioramas and more than 4,000 artifacts, such as 19th-century wedding gowns, swords from the Civil War, and prehistoric Native American items.
The Big Zipper's three ziplines stretch over ravines, valleys, and treetops, and together measure more than 2,300 feet. On tours, visitors glide along the zipline cables while strapped into secure full-body harnesses, enjoying a bird's-eye view of the rugged scenery below.
Led by outdoor adventure specialist Bobby Bower, the knowledgeable guides at PRO River Outfitters bring an average of 17 years of West Virginia river experience to their fishing trips. A multitude of fishing trips are designed to suit both novices and seasoned anglers eager to reel in smallmouth bass or walleye.
Outdoor adventurers raft, zipline, and climb across Ace Adventure Resort's 1,500 acres of wilderness along the New River Gorge National River, staying close to the action with a variety of lodging options. Whitewater-rafting trips satisfy all skill levels and include family-friendly Upper New River excursions with bouncy rapids, swimming holes, and a grilled lunch. Intermediate Lower New River trips balance rapids with calm spots to thrill both beginners and advanced rafters, and the Gauley River provides a challenging adventure with its raging rapids and predatory goldfish. More than a dozen off-river adventure activities send guests ziplining through the canopy, revving through the mud on ATVs, and horseback riding down shaded trails to catch views of the New River Gorge. The lake itself is stocked with big inflatable toys, including waterslides and trampolines for kids. After action-packed days, groups lodge in deluxe cabins outfitted with kitchens and bathrooms or opt for rustic cabins, cabin tents, or sites perfect for parking an RV or roadworthy caboose.