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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.