As you look ahead to 2023 travels, we’d like to throw an unexpected candidate into the ring: West Virginia’s New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. Declared America’s 63rd national park in 2020, the stunning destination is home to more than 70,000 acres of public lands. (Read more fun facts about this stunning region of our country here.) Though autumn is decidedly a prime time to soak in exquisite east coast foliage, we’d argue that every season offers its own unique draws.
WHERE TO STAY
West Virginia‘s small town of Fayetteville boasts a compact “downtown” and charming Main Street. It’s the perfect hub from which to explore this region, and easily accessible by Route 19 and I-64.
Country Road Cabins, just minutes from the New River Gorge Bridge and the town’s assortment of welcoming eateries and bars, features cozy cabins, yurts and fantastical treehouses that come with a fully-equipped kitchen, satellite TV, deck with hot tub and gas grill. Rehash each day’s adventures under the stars, mesmerized by your tranquil surroundings and the hypnotic glow of an evening campfire. (Stay tuned for the completion of a few uber-cool additions to the lodging lineup on this wooded property.)
WHAT TO DO
Get your adrenaline pumping on the Bridge Walk, while learning fascinating facts about the impressive structure — an iconic steel arch bridge that was once the longest in the world. Hike alongside — or paddle atop — the mesmerizing New River, said to be the second oldest river in the world. If you’re lucky, glimpse bald eagles and peregrine falcons from scenic overlooks as you travel pathways like Endless Wall Trail — or wind your way via car down to the bottom of the gorge via Fayette Station Road. Each season brings enticing new ways to explore the great outdoors. (Mark your calendar for Bridge Day 2023 next October!)
WHERE TO EAT + DRINK
Start the day at hip Wood Iron Bakery or Cathedral Cafe, a 107-year-old building now converted into a quaint hangout that serves juices, lattes, breakfast sammies, make-your-own omelets and pancake stacks to fuel you up for adventures ahead. Don’t miss the tasty pints and food trucks that make Freefolk Brewery well-worth a visit, the sensational, elevated sunset views that define Smokey’s on the Gorge, and the neighborly banter and live music that welcome visitors to the local scene at Southside Junction Tap House. It’s likely you’ll leave craving more time to explore this complex, multilayered and beautiful mountainous state.
*Cabin photos courtesy Country Road Cabins; all other outdoor images courtesy West Virginia Department of Tourism.