Explore the New River Gorge while becoming a New River Gorge National Junior Ranger! Start your adventures at any national park visitor center where you can pick up a Junior Ranger book. Once you have your book there are a few requirements you must complete in order to earn a New River Gorge National River Junior Ranger badge. When you are finished with your book you can turn it into a park ranger. This is a fun hands-on way for kids to learn about the national river. Check and see if there are any special activities planned while you are visiting.
New for 2022 are select ranger-led programs that you can reserve a guaranteed ticket for! Tickets are available starting June 1st and are released 7 days before the scheduled program. Reservation-based program schedules will be released monthly, so be sure to check on the 1st of each month to see what new programs are available! Visit: https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/10089332 to see what’s coming each month.
A favorite activity for all ages is the Hawks Nest Jet Boat ride with Captain Rick. Stop by the Hawks Nest nature center and get hands with animal tracks. Speak with the park’s onsite naturalist and check for daily programs and activities. Take a hike on the Hawks Nest Rail trail where you can enjoy an easy 4mile hike, 2 miles in and 2 miles out with lots of waterfall exploring. After your jet boat adventures travel just a few miles down the road and defy gravity at the Mystery Hole.
Play a round of mini-golf, grab some ice cream, and mine for gemstones all at one stop at Mountain Lake Campground.
4. Arial Adventures
Children as young as 4 years old can participate on Timber Trek, a high ropes course/ challenge course with varying levels for all ages. Older kids will love the Tree Tops Canopy Tour and Gravity Zipline tours. Ace Adventure Resort also offers zip lining along with Rivers Expeditions.
The Historic Ansted Roller Rink is one of the region’s best-kept secrets. Climb down 78 stairs to this hidden gem. This open-air rink has been named one of the most unique skating rinks in the U.S. Open May- October Fridays and Saturdays 6pm-9pm and family skate Tuesdays June- August 6pm-8pm.
6. Explore Around Town
Enjoy a stroll around town and stop by The Stache for ice cream or cool toys. If you work up an appetite Pies & Pints is a favorite family restaurant with a playground and arcade games on site. Ben Franklin has a wall of candy, a dollar toy section, crafts, and slushies. Burn off some energy at the Fayetteville Town Park. Enjoy a family hike on one of the nature trails or check out the skate park. The kids will love Playetteville, a nature-themed playground with a spinning mushroom, an anthill, and beehives to climb on.
7. Hit the water
You need to get your feet wet. Most of the rafting companies have trips on the Upper New where children 6 and up can join in on the fun. Children 10 and up can step up the adventure with a family raft trip on the Lower New making whitewater memories that will last a lifetime. For laid-back fun, take the kids for a day at the beach at Summersville Lake. There are lots of places to fish along the New River and several area streams. Stand Up Paddle Boarding is fun for all ages with Mountain Surf Paddle Sports.
Arrowhead bike farm is designed as a rolling loop trail system ranging in difficulty from easy to more advanced trails. This is a great place for beginners to try mountain biking on their beginner trails. Arrowhead also offers mountain bike rentals and instruction on site. They host family and kid bike clinics throughout the year.
Fayetteville and the New River Gorge area are a hiker’s paradise. Stop by the Fayetteville Visitors Center and we will hook you up with a trail guide and point you in the right direction for trails that match your family’s pace.
Family-Friendly Trail Suggestions
Canyon Rim Boardwalk (Fayetteville) -.6 out and back. A short path takes you to the overlook at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center with great views of the bridge and gorge. Be aware there are a lot of stairs to get to the lower overlook. The top overlook is stroller friendly.
Burnwood Loop – (Fayetteville) 1.3-mile loop
Getting there: Park at Burnwood Day Use Area, across US 19 from Canyon Rim Visitor Center. Look to the right past the restroom facility for the trailhead. This is a short loop with beautiful forest views avoiding steep overlooks.
Hawks Nest Rail Trail (Ansted) 1.9 miles in and out. Enjoy spectacular waterfall views along Mill Creek as you head toward the Hawks Nest Lake.
Getting there: Head towards Hawks Nest State Park in Ansted West Virginia off of route 60. Turn onto page Street in Ansted off route 60. Turn right onto Rich Creek Rd. Drive under the overpass to the parking area. Trailhead will be on left.
Sandstone Falls Boardwalk (Hinton) – .5 out and back. This stroller-friendly boardwalk will lead to islands with spectacular views of Sandstone Falls.
Getting there: Take River Road from the west end of the WV 20 bridge in Hinton. Travel along a narrow road along the river for 9 miles to Sandstone falls.
ACE Adventure Resort is home of the Wonderland Waterpark. Climb giant inflatables and jump into the lake, ride waterslides, zip over the lake, or launch your family of the giant BLOB. There is also a beach area for younger children and relaxation.
11. Rock Climbing
The New River Gorge is known for phenomenal rock climbing with a variety of routes for different skill levels making it a great place to learn how to rock climb. Fayetteville has several rock climbing outfitters to help show you the ropes.
Looking for some rainy day fun? Take a 30-minute drive to Beckley to visit the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and Youth Museum. You can tour an underground mine and experience the rich history of coal in West Virginia. The youth museum houses several interactive exhibits and a planetarium.
13. Escape A Torium
Enjoy a family outing at the Escape-A-Torium in downtown Fayetteville. Be transported to another time, place, and reality. Find clues as a team and solve the challenges. Many of the rooms and challenges have West Virginia themes like the “Feud” or ” Secret Bunker”
14. Pin Heads New River Gorge
Enjoy family-friendly bowling with great eats on site. They have bumpers and bowling ramps with the tiniest bowling shoes for young children to join in the fun. Pinheads hosts Family Days with great deals on Sundays and cosmic bowling.
If parents want to participate in guided activities that aren’t kid-friendly check out Ace Adventure Resorts Kids Camp. Ace offers full and half-day programs for kids to have fun-filled days while adults are adventuring on their own.
Check our events page for family-friendly events, camps, and activities happening in Fayetteville.
Top Kid Dining Picks:
Pies & Pints- Pizza, Onsite playground, pizza, and coloring sheets
Arrowhead Bike Farm- Dine on the patio where you can see the resident goats, pump track, and onsite bike rentals and trails
The Stache – Ice cream, candy, and toy shop all in one
Pin Heads Bowling- All the kid’s favorite foods and bowling in one spot
Favorite Place to stay with kids
The Quality Inn New River Gorge is the closest hotel to the New River Gorge Bridge conveniently close to lots of outdoor activities. In the summer months enjoy the onsite pool and cornhole and basketball courts. They also have a delicious continental breakfast.