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new river gorge
View of the New River winding through its gorge from the Canyon View Visitor Center.

7 Reasons Fayette County is Gonna Get You: Heart of West Virginia

Located in the heart of West Virginia, Fayette County exemplifies the state motto “Mountaineers are always free”. Cool mountain temps and plenty of water create an adventurer’s paradise surrounded by lush vegetation that can’t seem to take a bad photo. Here’s the best ways to spend a trip:

1. Visit New River Gorge – 63rd US National Park

America’s newest but highly underrated National Park, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve highlights the science and history of one of the world’s oldest rivers. There are so many ways to explore this amazing park and the area’s fascinating coal mining history. From scenic drives to height bending bridge tours, riding the rapids and traversing over 100 miles of hiking trails to ghostly towns or stunning vistas, this park has something for everyone and it’s FREE. Thrill seekers even base jump and repel off the bridge in October each year on Bridge Day! Check out our experience here.

New River Gorge bridge
Skipping rocks in the New River below the New River Gorge Bridge.

2. Ride World Class Rapids on New and Gauley Rivers

It seems the whole of Appalachia loves riding nature’s waterslides. After six different companies refused to take a very adventurous 5-year-old down the rapids, we had to give up on our goal of white water rafting in 2022. But the tourists we did see at the New River Gorge takeout appeared to be having an epic time. There are so many companies, ride lengths and difficulties to choose from, all I can do is give a list and wait until our kids are older for a personal review.

fayette station bridge
Rafters clearing their final rapids under the Fayette Station Bridge as they approach the takeout under the New River Gorge Bridge.

3. Snap some pics at the photogenic Babcock State Park

One of the most photographed locations in West Virginia, the Glade Creek Gristmill is a working replica of the original Cooper’s Mill. Popular for weddings and fall foliage, get to Babcock State Park early for the best shots and expect lots of crowding during fall foliage. The park also offers fishing, camping, hiking and biking trails and countless locations to relax and enjoy the mountain air.

babcock state park grist mill
Ridiculously photogenic Glade Creek Grist Mill in Babcock State Park, WV.

4. Get a little dirt on your tires at the Arrowhead trails

With over 100 miles of trails, New River Gorge NP is a hikers paradise. However, the steep sides of the gorge leave many of them as inhospitable to mountain bikers as the Grand Canyon. Luckily, the Arrowhead Trails just south of Fayetteville offer miles of trails labeled with lengths and difficulties for tourists to get a little dirt on their tires. If biking is your thing, a stay at the Arrowhead Bike Farm might be your perfect getaway!

girl mountain biking
There’s no better way to take in the beautiful Appalachian scenery than on two wheels!

5. Explore the Fayetteville historic district

Originally called Vandalia after the founder, Fayetteville was renamed in honor of Civil War hero Marquis de Lafayette (he’s everywhere in the east) sometime before 1837. Anchored by the towering Fayette County courthouse, the historic district contains various early 20th century buildings, many of which are sadly vacant.

fayette courthouse
Beautiful Fayette County Courthouse in Fayetteville, WV. (Fayette Tribune photo)

6. Grab a unique bite at a local eatery

Like many small towns in Appalachia, Fayetteville is a laid-back small town with great food and friendly people that champion outdoorsy tourism. During a rainy afternoon we scored a delicious lunch at Pies & Pints while the kids bounced around on their small playground. We had hoped to grab a coffee at the Cathedral Cafe & Bookstore, but they were closed… so add it to the reasons to return!

pizza in fayetteville
Delicious pizza was the perfect midday fuel for our day in Fayetteville.

7. Stay wild at The Outpost

Originally booked solely for proximity to the bridge and visitor’s center, The Outpost is definitely in our Top 5 Favorite Campgrounds. With cabins and tent platforms scattered on the tree filled hillside and RV spots surrounded by lush green grass, the place can accommodate any kind of traveler. Plus, the cozy retreat glows with whimsical lighting and lightning bugs in the summer, a sight not to be missed.

tree houses
Just across the creek from our spot, cabins and tent platforms dot the hillside of The Outpost.

Eternally on the hunt for the science in every adventure.

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