In the 900,000-acre Monongahela National Forest, amid the bald eagles, deer, herons, and small-mouth bass, lies Blackwater Outdoor Adventures, a family-owned business dedicated to equipping treks into the outdoors that surround it. From their river outpost and general store, staffers dispatch water vessels to traverse the clear waters of the Cheat River, a scenic passageway carved into the rolling hills with plenty of areas for swimming and fishing. Blackwater also operates a 7-acre campsite on the banks of the river, where groups can lessen the edge of the outdoors with hot showers and space to store boats, gear, and inflatable six-bedroom homes.
Since 1972, River Expeditions’ seasoned river guides have organized whitewater-rafting trips down the New River and the Gauley River in southern West Virginia’s scenic Appalachian Mountains. There’s a stretch of water for all ages and skill levels, from those looking for a scenic float to paddlers craving a soaked-to-the-bone thrill ride. In addition to day trips, River Expeditions also offers overnight excursions, which typically include camping on the riverbank, cooking out beneath the stars, and paying off local owls to guard the food at night.
River Expeditions can also arrange horseback riding, ziplining, mountain biking, fishing, and ATV tours.
Though spectral forms and shadowy figures still reside in The Haunted Cottage, its greatest legacy is as the occasional vacation home of assassin John Wilkes Booth. Also known as the Booth House, The Haunted Cottage is home to paranormal researcher Vince Wilson, who helms the haunted abode's ghost tours and maintains the paranormal library and history museum, where guests can spy a vampire skeleton among other supernatural exhibits. All this knowledge pours from Vince's mouth during tours and investigations, which pair breakdowns of the house's 200-year history with actual equipment designed to catch ghosts, from cameras and digital recorders to EMF meters.
The Haunted Cottage also strives to school spirit-seekers with paranormal-research training that cycles through parapsychology topics such as extrasensory perception, hypnosis, and psychic healing.
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.
The sun has risen over Ridgefield Farm & Orchard for more than a century, dusting its orchard's apple trees, its winding cornfield maze, and its acres of pumpkins with warm, nurturing rays. Generations have flocked there from across the country, snipping fresh buds from flower gardens during the summer months or scampering though the pumpkin patch come fall. The advent of autumn also marks the beginning of the farm?s apple-picking season, when dwarf orchard trees grow heavy with juicy gala, empire, and 13 other varieties. After the annual pumpkin-picking and Halloween celebrations have passed, the grounds offer up an abundance of firs and spruces to be used as Christmas trees or stacked up and tied together into one giant Christmas tree. Throughout the year, the onsite country store peddles seasonal produce and housemade jams to boast the bounty of the farm's fields and to keep visitors fueled.
West Virginia's New River Gorge beckons thrill-seekers and nature-lovers alike with a stretch of unspoiled nature, and Adventures on the Gorge rests on the rim to make sure they find it. Blending quiet country peace with adrenaline-pumping excitement, the resort has a little something for everyone. Whitewater rafting expeditions, for instance, send paddlers of all skill levels across the rolling rapids and peaceful stretches of the Lower New River and the Gauley River. Ziplines, on the other hand, lift nature explorers into the canopy, and the TimberTrek Aerial Park lets guests navigate the forest the same way squirrels do?on a series of ziplines, swings, and bridges.
So that guests never have to leave, Adventures on the Gorge tends to all their creature comforts. Cabins nestled in the woods contain comfy couches and even hot tubs, whereas campgrounds allow people to get back to their simpler roots. Yet no matter where they stay, guests can swing into the onsite restaurants and pubs to grab a cold one and avoid the hassle of cooking a casserole over a fire.