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West Virginia Travel Itinerary

This West Virginia travel itinerary is ideal in the fall and includes some of the best whitewater rafting on the planet.

Spend four days or more combining adventure, food, history and cool small towns with this West Virginia travel itinerary taking you to cool small towns of Thomas, Davis and Fayetteville and on rock climbing and whitewater rafting adventures.

We traveled to West Virginia during fall Gauley Season, which we recommend. This fall season is a prime time for whitewater rafting. The rafting was definitely a trip highlight, but we also really enjoyed seeing nature and small towns along this route. Here’s what we suggest you try!

Day 1 – Travel to WV!

Travel to WV and bunk in at Country Roads Cabins in Hico, where you can literally stay in a treehouse, the Holly Rock Tree House, or rent a cabin. Have dinner in Fayetteville, about ten minutes away. Some good picks are Secret Sandwich Society or Pies & Pints Pizzeria or choose to grill out and enjoy nature at your cabin in the woods.

Day 2- Whitewater Rafting and Food Finds in Fayetteville

Rise early and drive to Ace Adventures for your Gauley Season whitewater rafting adventure. These class five rapids will certainly take you for a ride.

From the first weekend after Labor Day for another six weekends, the Gauley River is at its fullest, because this is when the Army Corps of Engineers provides a series of controlled releases for the express purpose of downriver recreation. What this means is that travelers can get in on the action, taking on rollercoaster waves and class five rapids—intense.

This is the ultimate whitewater rafting adventure!

This is the ultimate whitewater rafting adventure!

Depending on the weather, you’ll likely be given a wet suit, neoprene booties and a helmet. Under all of this, you’ll want to dress in a good, slim base layer, similar to what you might wear skiing. A synthetic, beanie winter hat to go under your helmet, old sneakers or water shoes, sneakers and for guys, board shorts over your wet suit are just a few suggestions.


Gauley Season: the world’s toughest whitewater… by TravelswithDarley
After the Gauley run, drive to Fayetteville. This small town has some super dining options and is really cute. Pick up any extra gear you may need at Water Stone Outdoors (101 W Wiseman Ave Fayetteville), which touts the best climbing shoe selection in the nation. Co-owner Kenny Parker knows his stuff and may even give you a few more local travel tips.

Fall flavors in Fayetteville.

Fall flavors in Fayetteville.

Stay another night at your cabin in the woods!

Day 3- Rock Climbing

This morning, grab a warm biscuit where locals get theirs at Tudor’s Biscuit World. Drive from Fayatteville to Nelson Rocks, approximately three hours, for a rock climbing adventure with NRocks. The typical route helps climbers gain almost 2000 feet in elevation, reaching a spot in the North Fork Valley that is truly worth the climb.

At NRocks, you can climb using a Via Ferrata, Italian for Iron Road. This method of rock climbing uses fixed anchor rungs and a steel cable system, allowing climbers to ascend or descend, reaching new heights in dramatic settings.

Climbing high and feeling quite secure with NRocks.

Climbing high and feeling quite secure with NRocks.

Developed during World War I to move supplies through the rugged Dolomites in Italy, in the 1940’s, the 10th Mountain Division of the US Army used Nelson Rocks to train mountain troops in assault climbing in preparation for action in the mountains of Italy. Each 6-foot interval at this via ferrata, you reach an eyebolt, detaching one carabiner from the cable and clipping it above the eyebolt and then the next, keeping you securely by the rocks.

This suspension bridge is not for the faint of heart.

This suspension bridge is not for the faint of heart.

It typically takes from three and a half to five hours to do the entire route at Nelson Rocks, but it can certainly take longer, especially if you stop to enjoy the scenery.

And don’t forget what can be the best or worst part of the adventure, crossing the surreal 200-foot long suspension bridge 150 feet high up in the air in a setting straight out of a movie.

Drive approximately one hour from the Via Ferrata to the town of Thomas to stay at the Cooper House Bed & Cocktail, (114 East Avenue, Thomas) a cute B&B where you may be welcomed by a four legged friend and each room is unique. Eat tonight in Davis at Sirianni’s Cafe or while taking in live music at the Purple Fiddle Cafe, Brews and Stage, which is located right beside the Cooper House Bed & Cocktail. Be prepared that you may hear some music into the night at this lodging. We recommend listening from the Purple Fiddle!

Thomas, WV decked out for autumn.

Thomas, WV decked out for autumn.

Day 4- Harper’s Ferry National Park & Beyond

Enjoy breakfast at The Flying Pigs Cafe or at Tip Top Coffee, a short walk down the street from the Cooper House B&B. Head out of Thomas to Harper’s Ferry.

Make a stop at Bloomery Distillery (16357 Charles Town Rd, Charles Town, WV), about a two hour and twenty minute drive from Thomas. This family run business makes homemade cordials and spirits include inventive and surprising flavors like black walnut, peach, pumpkin spice and limoncello and the distillery is open for tours and tastings.

Sampling Limoncello at Bloomery Distillery in West Virginia.

Sampling Limoncello at Bloomery Distillery in West Virginia.

Historic Harpers Ferry in West Virginia is a popular travel destination, combining history, nature, shopping and adventure. If you’re thinking of making the trip to this destination that’s not far from Washington, DC, don’t miss these top attractions.


Best of Harpers Ferry National Historical Park by TravelswithDarley
Harpers Ferry rests on the mid-point of the over 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail and is home to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Take the time to enjoy nature, hiking part of the trail and enjoying the views.

Another active way to learn about Harpers Ferry is by taking a guided tour through the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Guides share Civil War history and beyond, painting a picture of Harpers Ferry in the past.

Walking part of the Appalachian Trail where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet.

Walking part of the Appalachian Trail where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet.

Harpers Ferry’s is home to a variety of unusual shops with a special focus on history. Stop by True Treats, where you can learn about the history of candy and satisfy your sweet tooth.

Just down the road, families can test their physical and mental strength at River Riders Adventure Park. Obstacle courses in the trees include zip lines, challenge brides and more for all ages.

Wherever you end up, enjoy the opportunities that stepping back in time at this well-preserved historic town can bring.

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Travels with Darley is a travel TV series broadcast on PBS stations and on digital networks, including the AOL On Network. Host Darley Newman of "Equitrekking" fame joins locals to showcase the top food, culture and adventure attractions in the USA and around the globe.

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