West Virginia: Amazing WOW! Factor Family Adventures - Ziplines, Whitewater, and Horseback Riding.
Outdoor adventures define Southern West Virginia family vacations. The terrain, the water, the weather, and the residents create a positive synergy which benefits everyone looking to enjoy the benefits of Mother Nature.
For decades the area has provided world-class whitewater rafting adventures, plus kayaking, biking, hiking, horseback riding, ziplining, and rock climbing. More recently ATV tours have become an option for families so logically zip-line racing would become a choice to add to the menu of fun. Here’s the zipline scoop.
The folks at Burning Rock (Sounds like a moniker for a TV show, right?) have launched a zipline. For years they have been bouncing around the area with ATVs and now they offer thrills by air. The Burning Rock Express Racing Zipline is not a zipline “tour”. It does not glide from platform to platform allowing for a participant to feel the glide or see the trees. The BR Express is a rocket of a twin zipline system that picks up so much speed, the ground below blurs (Goggles optional.). Zip-racing details: The BR Express is a dual-racing zipline. Which means you can race your kids, your siblings or your friends, side by side, and watch their faces as they seem to fly just feet away from you. The BRE zipline measures 2,500 feet - a half mile in case you were wondering. The 300-foot descent provides riders with the possibility of reaching speeds of 60 MPH – no passing allowed. Bonus points
: And for the ardent thrill seekers in the bunch once you have proved yourself (two zips with no hitches) you will get the chance to ride headfirst. ((304) 683-9242 or www.burningrockwv.com
) Go off-road on wheels.
Slightly closer to the earth but none the less thrilling Burning Rock Outdoor Adventure Center offers wild runs using all-terrain vehicles a.k.a. ATVs. Though it always seems to me that every rider has mad skills, according to the folks at Burning Rock everyone one has a first time and they know how to make the initiation and adventure. Like river rafting no two trips will be the same. Mother Nature has a lot to do with it. They offer four different off-road vehicles to choose from: ATVs, Tandem ATVs, 2-seater UTVs (also known as "side-by-sides"), and Polaris Ranger RZR 570s. They offer guided ATV trips so that newbies can weave, bump, and bounce but not roll over and break something. The guides, who love ATVs and the sport, provide pointers on trail techniques, and demonstrate how to have a great ride from start to finish. Bonus points:
For experienced riders, Burning Rock guides lead riders to off-road hidden gems. If it looks like fun, it is.
If I can do it - anyone can do it. Although I am not an expert at ATV trail riding, it is easy and thrilling. I admit to being overly cautious, riding my brakes gripping the handle bars a little too tightly, and continuously looking for tree roots but gradually letting go just happens. Off-road riding is about feeling the terrain, not speed. For parents with energetic teens it is a nice day-adventure although you may need a hot tub and a massage by the end of the day. A word of advice - try not to smile when tracking through muddy trails. Guess how I know? Bonus points:
To make the adventure a tad easier to put together the folks at Burning Rock have created a series of packages that include cabin plus an adventure or two. (Burning Rock outdoor Adventure Park 117 Burning Rock Drive Tams, WV 25921. Toll-free 1-877-683-9240 or www.burningrockwv.com
) Saddle up and ride out.
Those of you who do not own horses but have children who wish you did, Horseshoe Creek Riding Stable has the solution. They offer a slew of day adventures for horse lovers and their families including carriage rides, pony rides daily horseback riding, hiking, and fishing trips. Trails are varied as the terrain in the area with wildflowers, mountain streams and shaded forest trails. Ride for an hour, stay on the trail for half the day or arrange for and overnight adventure which includes sleeping in a teepee. (How fun, right?) Bonus points:
Horseshoe Creek Riding Stable is nestled amid a 500-acre retreat providing an ideal place not just for riding but also for connecting with the earth. A spot to hike, fish, hunt rocks, and look for arrow heads. (Horseshoe Creek Riding Stable, Smales Branch Road, Hico, WV 25854. (304) 658-3218 or www.horseshoecreekridingstable.com
) Walk under the New River Gorge Bridge.
If whitewater rafting adventures, kayaking, biking, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, ATV runs, and ziplinng is not enough add to the menu of fun walking on the catwalk under the New River Gorge Bridge. Really? Here’s the scoop.
Bridge Walk tours begin at the Canyon Rim Visitor's Center. A short path on the north side of the gorge leads to the Bridge and access to the catwalk. To put this in perspective (literally), the bridge is 876 feet above the New River and spans 3,030 feet in length. It is the largest single span steel arch in the Western Hemisphere, and the highest vehicle carrying bridge in the United States. The 24-inch wide catwalk is an existing part of the structure but has always been restricted - not anymore. (New River gorge Bridge Walk (304) 574-1300 or going to www.bridgewalk.com
) Make it happen.
The family vacation adventure menu is impressive in the nine counties that make up Southern West Virginia. The Eastern edge includes Monroe and Greenbrier counties and the unspoiled wilderness of Allegheny Ridge. The Central Plateau and Valleys includes Mercer, Summers, Raleigh, Fayette, and Nicholas counties with the New River Gorge and New, Bluestone, and Gauley Rivers. The mountainous southern area defined by the state’s coal mining heritage includes McDowell and Wyoming counties. Each one has something to offer families on vacation. To browse the whole list and take advantage of special vacation offers checkout the website or follow them on Twitter (@visitWV). Toll-free at 1-800-636-1460, or www.visitwv.com Content researched and created by FTF. Comments by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Editor FTF. Images provided by Southern West Virginia Tourism. Copyright 2013.