->Overview: The 9 Regions of WEST VIRGINIA
New River/Greenbrier Valley, West Virginia
From peaceful farmlands and historic towns to raging whitewater rivers, the New River/Greenbrier Valley is a region of diversity.
Resorts, outdoor dramas, parks, natural wonders and amazing engineering feats entice visitors to this busy area. Here scenic beauty and wild rivers provide food for the soul as well as a feast for the eye.
There are incredible state parks, adventures awaiting on the mild or wild whitewater of the region and hiking and biking on rail trails or on the backroads and forests of your choice.
Explore the mountains and the valleys, the stunning scenery and still untamed terrain, the old railroad towns and the new centers of culture and commerce.
Pick your own adventure at a spectacular state park or succumb to the pampering of a world-renowned spa.
There’s no easy way to pass through southern West Virginia’s New River and Greenbrier Valley. That’s not because it’s difficult to reach. It’s because there’s far too much to see.
Perhaps the most dominant feature in the region is “The Grand Canyon of the East,” the New River Gorge, which comprises 70,000 acres of scenic national park and countless miles of stunning vistas (www.nps.gov).
Outdoor recreation surrounds the New River and its major tributaries, the Greenbrier, the Gauley and the Bluestone National Scenic rivers. This region is a refuge for nature and wildlife lovers, or for those who simply want a beautiful place to relax.
Choose from two scenic aerial tram rides and great views from your dining table at two remarkable state parks – Pipestem (www.pipestemresort.com) along the Bluestone Gorge and Hawks Nest (www.hawksnestsp.com) on the rim of the New River Gorge. Discover West Virginia’s rich rail heritage in Hinton, Princeton and Talcott, or experience it firsthand on a scenic excursion through the Gorge.
But perhaps the best way to see the region is on a raft, splashing through the Gorge with one of nearly 30 outfitters – the New River is the biggest whitewater river in the East.
Despite all its ruggedness, the New River-Greenbrier Valley also offers the state’s most plush lodging at the world-famous Greenbrier Resort (www.greenbrier.com) in White Sulphur Springs.
But even if you’re not staying there, a tour of the former top-secret congressional bunker creates a memory of a lifetime, as would dinner and a round of golf on one of its three championship courses.
Speaking of golf, southern West Virginia boasts a mind-numbing array of courses designed by the sport’s legendary designers from Glade Springs Resort (www.gladesprings.com) to Pipestem and Twin Falls (www.twinfallsresort.com) state parks.
Treat yourself to a shopping spree in the fine stores in historic Lewisburg (www.greenbrierwv.com) or at Tamarack, West Virginia’s artisan showplace in Beckley (www.visitwv.com).
Follow the bucolic Farm Heritage Trail through Monroe County in what might be one of the state’s last hidden treasures. While you’re there, grab a fresh-baked pie and homemade cheese at the Mennonite bakery and cheese stores in Gap Mills.
Go underground on a guided tour of caverns in Greenbrier County – virtually the entire region sits atop miles of mapped and wild passages.
Catch a show at the brand-new Chuck Mathena Center for the Performing Arts in Princeton – it’s set to open in March, or enjoy community theater at the Summit Theatre and Gallery in Bluefield (www.wvsoutherngateway.com).
Tour the magnificent mansions of the early-20th-century coal barons in Bramwell.
Watch cornmeal ground entirely by water power at Babcock State Park’s Glade Creek Grist Mill (www.babcocksp.com).
Camp Washington-Carver in Clifftop highlights some of the state’s rich African-American culture and is home to the annual Appalachian String Band Music Festival.
If you favor riding horseback, bring your horses to Camp Creek State Park (www.campcreekstatepark.com) and its horse-friendly campground.
Pinnacle Rock is an unusual sandstone formation that towers 3,100 feet above sea in the rugged mountains of southeastern West Virginia.