I’ve titled myself (and been called!) a lot of titles when it comes to my outdoor travel personality: an indoor girl and a fish out of water are the top two for certain. I’ve showed up to outdoor barbecues in heels, taken walks in wedge sandals, and I live for the excuse to wear a dress. I adore a good massage and styling my hair and putting on make-up is a way of life for me. Seriously, God bless those folks that can “rough it”. And by rough it, I mean hang out in the woods all day, sleep in a tent on the forest floor all night, and cook every meal over a campfire. That has never been my travel style and I’m okay with that just as I would hope those folks are okay with my usual take on vacationing. So here’s the rub: can an indoor gal like myself take in all that nature has to offer with an adrenaline kick, throw off the pretense of my indoor personality, and have a blast while exploring the New River Gorge area with Adventures on the Gorge?
Not only was it really, really easy, Adventures on the Gorge allows its guests to sit back and relax in between adventures and activities by providing transportation, offers luxurious sleeping options, and even provides leisurely activities for those days when you just want to…be. They also offer more outdoorsy options including tenting and the like, but I was all about having fun in the outdoors by day and sleeping surrounded by four beautiful walls by night.
So, what exactly did Mr. Locke and I do during our visit to Lansing, WV, with Adventures on the Gorge this summer? Coming from an indoor girl, you might be surprised.
What and Where is Adventures on the Gorge?
I remember the first time Mr. Locke and I passed over the New River Gorge Bridge on our way to Florida. He looked out the window and said, “Wow! Are we really going over the New River Gorge Bridge? Wow!”
My response, “Yeah?”
With the most horrific look in his eyes he replied, “Do you not know how famous this bridge is?”
The next hour was filled with him looking up New River Gorge facts and figures on his iPhone and letting me in on how famous the area is, not only for its whitewater rafting, zip line adventures, and annual Bridge Day where the highway traffic on and around the New River Bridge comes to a halt for about 12 hours so the adventurous can bungee jump, repel, and even base jump off the bridge from 876 feet above the New River.
Adventures on the Gorge is the brainchild of four whitewater rafting companies that have called the New River Gorge both their home and passion for years. Combining their companies several years ago, Adventures on the Gorge has gone from rafting companies whose companies were quickly dwindling in both numbers and guests to an outdoor adventurers haven filled with adrenaline-pumping activities and experiences.
So this summer, Mr. Locke and I jumped into the car again and headed south to the New River Gorge Bridge area of Lansing, WV, to check out all that Adventures on the Gorge has to offer. We tried a bit of everything (except for the whitewater rafting. I know, I know.) and I really had a great time- even without my heels in tow. Okay, I take that back. I did wear a pair to dinner one night.
New River Gorge Bridge Walk
Bridge Walk is a collaboration between the National Park Service, the partners that make up Bridge Walk LLC, and the West Virginia Division of Highways. After several failed attempts from other companies to successfully pull together a safe, thrilling experience, this mix of three separate entities was exactly what it took to allow guests to walk a 24-inch, 1.25 mile catwalk.
Using safety harnesses and the coolest German-made continuous belay system (seriously a story in itself of how cool it is), my group took a leisurely, hours-long walk across the catwalk underneath the New River Gorge Bridge. Some of us even sat right on the walkway and dangled our legs in the air.
If you check out the above photo, you’ll see just how safe we all felt in our harnesses. We even paused for a few minutes to check out the whitewater rafters that were traversing the New River successfully right at Fayette Station.
During the tour, our guide was simply amazing. Even though I’m sure he’s walked across thousands of times, he was so passionate about the bridge, Bridge Day, and the history of its construction that there was a point I forgot I was 851 feet above the New River.
Tree Tops Zip Line Canopy Tour
Tree Tops Zip Line Canopy Tour is so much more than a zip line tour. Yep, there are 10 separate, gorgeous and scenic zip lines, but there’s also short hikes, five cable bridges and a rappel station. Not a fan of the cable noise when ziping? This canopy tour has coated cables to reduce noise for both the participants and nearby cabin dwellers. We were two of those nearby cabin dwellers and I heard nary a zip during our entire stay.
As you can see (but very quickly!), the canopy tour is so scenic. We definitely gave our arms and legs a workout, and it was so easy to do compliments of the precious flora and fauna that Adventures on the Gorge so meticulously protects. Ask about the Wooly Adelgid on the tour and you’ll receive an eye-opening lesson on how they’re destroying Hemlock trees in the area. You’ll also learn how the company is protecting the trees by giving the Hemlocks injections.
Gravity Zip Lines
I like to call the Tree Tops Zip Line Canopy Tour the leisurely, laid back zip line tour and Gravity Zip Lines tour its boisterous big brother. Although there’s only six zips as compared to Tree Tops 10, the first five span 1.5 miles in total length. The last zip line, the AdrenaLine, spans 3,150 feet in length and you can easily look down well over 200 feet to the ground below while racing another zip liner at the same time.
I so love this video of Mr. Locke’s and my AdrenaLine race. Even with a head start, I still came up short! Mr. Locke must have his cannonball technique down pat!
With plenty of relaxing via pontoon boat at Summersville Lake, if you’re up for adventurous activities like we were, we had the options of stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, rock climbing, rock jumping, swimming, and rappelling. Each boat holds 8 guests and the guides, Kyle and Kyle, will cater your visit depending on what you’d like to do and try.
My party tried a bit of everything, and Mr. Locke really loved stand-up paddleboarding. As usual, he conquered the sport like a boss and had a beautiful, calm trip around the lake area and cliffs that we were tied up to. Compliments of the rain, a beautiful waterfall was just around that corner.
Did this indoor go all out and rock climb? Absolutely. It was a blast.
Adventures on the Gorge offers half day and full day packages (we did the morning half-day visit and it was just the right amount of time for us) and they even go as far as to drive you straight to the lake in one of their many buses- all you have to do is relax.
Part hotel room, part cabin in the woods, Sunnyside Suites at Adventures on the Gorge was the perfect choice for Mr. Locke and me. With either a one king or two queen sleeping option, there’s everything inside of each room that you’d expect: comfy beds, climate control, a giant television, strong (and free!) wifi, large bathrooms with indoor plumbing and towel warmers (perfect for drying damp towels or clothing), and a large, outdoor deck facing the woods. After our days packed with adventure, I found myself running for the back deck area- and not the climate-controlled suite!
I also loved the convenient location, allowing us to park the car and leave it parked. We walked everywhere!
I’d call Sunnyside Suites a middle-of-the-road, yet highly amenable, lodging option at Adventures on the Gorge. Below them would fall the categories of tenting and rustic, one room cabins, and above would be two-story, multi-family cabins and cottages, and a super luxurious home perfect for multi-family vacationing.
Of course if you’re planning on really roughing it you can bring your own meals, but since that’s not my style, I loved having several dining options at Adventures on the Gorge.
From Chetty’s (definitely head there for Monday wing night and for locally crafted beer!) to Buffler’s (amazing barbecue smoked in-house and delicious pizza) to Sweet Java Falls (get your caffeine fix there), there’s so many great restaurants right on property. All are casual dress, so you really don’t have to get all gussied up to have a great meal. The restaurants serve local craft beer and unusual cocktails and mixed drinks.
My favorite restaurant? Smokey’s on the Gorge. Its open air look and feel combined with the hundreds of mini lights make this one a special spot to dine. We enjoyed cocktails and margaritas (they were so fun and tasty!) and our meal options were created compliments of its in-house chef. With bacon-wrapped filets, amazing antipasti, and the best Lemon Berry Mascarpone Cake I’ve tried, I’m heading there for dinner the next time we visit.
Wrapping it Up
Yep, I had the time of my life at Adventures on the Gorge. I had fresh air in my lungs, great food in my belly, and adventure in my bones. Would I visit again?
And next time I may not even bring my high heels.
Have you had the pleasure of visiting Adventures on the Gorge? Go ahead and let me know your favorite activity when you have a chance.
Disclosure: I was hosted by Adventures on the Gorge to give you fine folks the scoop on what makes it so amazing. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and all opinions are my own!