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Adventurous hiking at Dolly Sods Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest
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    West Virginia

Outdoor recreation is a way of life in West Virginia, a picturesque and historic destination situated within the Appalachian Mountains.

This rugged backdrop means more than 75 percent of the state is covered in forest just waiting to be explored. Check out these adventures in and around West Virginia’s parks, rivers, off-road trails and mountaintops – accompanied by the lush scenery of the oldest mountain range in the world.

ATVing: Fun on Four Wheels

If you’ve never ridden an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), the nearly 1,000-kilometer Hatfield-McCoy Trail System is the perfect place to start. Outfitters such as Scarlet Flame Side X Side Adventures and WV ATV Rentals offer guided tours (complete with the required permits), so even beginners can try this muddy, messy and bumpy thrill of a lifetime.  

ATV riding through the Pocahontas Trail System near Bramwell

ATV riding through the Pocahontas Trail System near Bramwell
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Climbing: Adventure on the Rocks

The New River Gorge is the most famous climbing site in West Virginia, but climbers should also check out Seneca Rocks in the Monongahela National Forest, a craggy fin of rock that is only accessible by trad (traditional) climbing. There’s also an easy hiking trail with an observation platform for non-hikers. Just 15 minutes away, NROCKS Outdoor Adventures offers Via Ferrata (fixed-anchor) climbs for all experience levels.

Seneca Rocks landmark looming above colorful goldenrod in bloom

Seneca Rocks landmark looming above colorful goldenrod in bloom
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The Bridge Walk: New River Gorge

At 924 meters long and 267 meters high, the New River Gorge Bridge is one of the world’s most impressive single-span arch bridges. If you’re ready to conquer your fear of heights (with stunning views as your reward), take the Bridge Walk tour on the catwalk directly under the bridge – happily tied to a safety cable as you walk hundreds of meters above the river. 

Walking tour and amazing views under the New River Gorge Bridge

Walking tour and amazing views under the New River Gorge Bridge
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Whitewater Rafting: Among the Best in the USA

When it comes to whitewater rafting, West Virginia has something for everyone. New to rafting or traveling with kids? Guides in the upper New River Canyon offer a gentle introduction. For seasoned adventurers, the lower New River offers a combination of pools and rapids, while the upper Gauley River’s Class V+ waters require physical strength and experience, with rapids ending in a 4-meter waterfall.

Braving the Lost Paddle Rapid on a rafting trip down the Gauley River

Braving the Lost Paddle Rapid on a rafting trip down the Gauley River
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Paddling: Scenic Trails on the Water

Even non-outdoorsy types can go from dry land to canoeing or kayaking with ease in no time. The Upper Cheat River Water Trail is a calm ride through the Allegheny Mountains, with historic sites and attractions along the way. At tranquil Summersville Lake, you can rent pontoon boats, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks for low-impact fun.

Serene and scenic canoeing along one of West Virginia’s water trails

Serene and scenic canoeing along one of West Virginia’s water trails
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Skiing: Winter Resorts in the Mountain State

Want to see the “Mountain State” covered in snow? Several major ski resorts cater to a wide range of experience levels and interests. Canaan Valley Resort has 47 trails to choose from; Timberline Four Seasons Resort has a renowned ski school; White Grass Ski Touring Center is excellent for cross-country skiing; and Snowshoe Mountain Resort has the most advanced trails in the region.

On the slopes of Flat Top Mountain at Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent

On the slopes of Flat Top Mountain at Winterplace Ski Resort in Ghent
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Getting There

Fly into Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), which offers connecting flights to Yeager Airport (CRW) in Charleston, West Virginia’s capital city. Rental cars are readily available in Charleston.

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The historic Wheeling Suspension Bridge, built in 1849, over the Ohio River
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Destination

Wheeling