Wild Days ‘n Wild Nights: A Guide to New River Gorge Adventures & Nightlife

Rafters battling the rapids of the Gauley River.
Rafters battling the rapids of the Gauley River. Michael Blow
Made Possible by
Curated by

The following article is a paid collaboration with Wild, Wonderful West Virginia.

The New River Gorge in West Virginia is the East’s outdoor adventure central, but the excitement doesn’t stop when the sun goes down.

The Gorge's nightlife is just as thrilling as its adventures, with "America’s Coolest Small Town" of Fayetteville right in the middle of the New River Gorge National Park.

Here the are best daytime and nighttime adventures that the Gorge has to offer:

Adventure by day

1. Splash Around Gauley Fest

If you have a soft spot in your heart for the adrenaline rush that comes from whitewater boating, Gauley Fest is about as good as it gets. Imagine hundreds of paddlers all in one place traversing some of the best rapids in the world during 3 activity-packed days, and you’ve got the gist of Gauley Fest. Toss in some live entertainment, boat raffles, a silent auction and more, and you’re starting to get the full picture.

2. Zip Down the Gorge

You’ve probably seen it on a reality show before: people strapping themselves into a harness and zooming across landscapes. Try it yourself at Gravity Zip Lines in Lansing. Guided by the pros, soar across 1.5 miles of Mountain State beauty at 200 feet above the ground.

If you’re nervous, don’t be. They start small with 500-foot warm up runs, so get your bearings straight before you tackle the longer tracks and increase speed to around 60 miles per hour. The cherry on top is AdrenaLine, the longest zipline on the East Coast.

3. Rip Through Some Rapids with Cantrell Ultimate Rafting

This family-owned and operated gem is the go-to for a taste of the world-class rapids in West Virginia. They know the terrain like the back of their hands and are the only family gig in the region, so keep it local with Cantrell. They’ve grown just enough to accommodate demand, but stayed small enough to give that warm, personal attention you’d expect from a local outfitter.

Choose from excursions along the New River, the Lower Gauley (a bit more moderate), or the Upper Gauley (an exciting challenge).

A mountain biker tears through West Virginia.
A mountain biker tears through West Virginia. Jason Pratt

4. Rent Some Wheels at Arrowhead Bike Farm

There are an insane variety of biking trails in and around the New River Gorge. Choose your own adventure at Arrowhead Trails, a 13-mile stacked-loop system. Whichever trail you’ve got in mind, Arrowhead Bike Farm has knowledgeable bikers on staff who can give you all the advice you need if you aren’t sure where to start.

Excitement by night

1. Kick Back at Rendezvous Lodge

Described as beach-bar and mountain-lodge hybrid, Rendezvous Lodge is casual but festive, with a wide selection of beer to put an end to the thirst you’ve worked up in the outdoors all day. If you’re the type who likes to dive into local culture when you’re on the road, this place is a known hotspot for local and regional bands.

Just as much fun can be had at night in WV as during the day.
Just as much fun can be had at night in WV as during the day. Courtesy of The Grove

2. Catch Some Local Tunes at The Grove

If you like your tunes alongside some art, then head on over to The Grove. This spot has been described by reviewers as "warm, welcoming, and super delish," while others note that it’s got a “great atmosphere, great beer, [and] great people”— what more could you want?

3. Enjoy a Pint at Maggie’s Pub

Maggie’s is a local favorite, plus there’s plenty of parking, and it’s not expensive. If it’s football season and a game is on when you’re in town, this is the place you’ve got to go. Maggie’s has the best football specials around town (which usually includes free chili dogs), and the cozy decor will keep you feeling warm even when temperatures start to drop.

Explore more adventure and nightlife in the New River Gorge.

Originally written for West Virginia .

Last Updated:

Next Up