For those of us that work a salaried job, the chance to get away for two consecutive days can be a dream-come-true. Soaking up the sun and drinking Margaritas in sunny Virginia Beach is great for those sporadic days off, but on the rare circumstance that I can leave town for a few days, I prefer activities that get my adrenaline pumping. So when the opportunity arose just a couple of weeks ago to leave town, I packed up my tent and sleeping pad and headed to the mountains of West Virginia.
As planning began, I knew that whitewater rafting was definitely on the agenda but the exact location of where that was to occur was still to be determined. After researching some of the best options within a reasonable driving distance, my family and I (my father drove up from Florida) settled on Ace Adventures in West Virginia at just over 6 hours away. We had originally made reservations to stay at their on-site campground but a busy weekend and mix up with reservations left us camping elsewhere. After some slight confrontation between the front desk and my father, we were directed to the nearest campground that was just under 45 minutes away. Although the distance wasn’t ideal, New River Campground was absolutely gorgeous and possibly even more serene than our original campground choice. Tucked down some rural winding roads and only 1/2 mile from the beautiful Cathedral Falls, this lake-side campground was absolutely perfect. I’d suggest bringing your fishing pole, some bread to feed the friendly ducks, your camera to capture the spectacular views, and your furry friend (they’re dog friendly!) if you plan on staying here.
After a night spent around the campfire admiring the fog drifting on the lake, it was time to go rafting! My family and I woke up bright and early and eagerly made our way over to Ace Adventures where we began our journey on the Lower New River All Day trip. With over 20 white water rapids ranging from Class II to Class V, a delicious lunch halfway in (we’re not talking deli sandwiches here), several opportunities to float down the river, and some great history lessons from our knowledgeable and humorous guide (request Bob!), this 10.5 mile trip was perfect for anyone with a need for adrenaline and water! After a day full of laughs and giggles, we returned back to base where we had a few beers at their restaurant, rinsed off in their large showering facility, enjoyed their lake water park (complete with zip line and blob), and waited for our rafting video to be released. We loved it so much that we’re already planning our Fall trip back to do the infamous Gauley River trip!
But just because the rafting was over didn’t mean the fun had to be! On our way back to Virginia, we stopped along several of the Brew Ridge Trail establishments to enjoy some well-deserved brewskies. Our favorite beer among the few we tried was Blue Mountain Brewery‘s Dark Hollow, but the top rating for atmosphere has got to go to Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company. For those with a little finer taste, Afton Mountain Vineyard is just around the corner and an absolute must. And if you plan ahead of time, there are some great caverns along the way as well. Unfortunately we didn’t bring the right clothing so the Luray Caverns and Lost World Caverns (among others) were not on the agenda this go-round.