When I was a kid, long before I knew about the New River Gorge, one of my favorite things to do was get away with a group of like aged and minded kids. Usually the Boy Scouts of America.
Getting out in the woods and exploring and getting in touch with nature was a great way to spend a couple of days. Turning over rocks to see what lived there was a great activity and then to think we are to be responsible for taking care of all of this was a really cool too. It gave a sense of pride and authority.
I would have gone winter, summer, spring, fall… it didn’t matter. So when I think about youth groups coming here to West Virginia, I’ve got to go with my gut: any time of year is a great time to be in the gorge.
Spring is time to get out and explore. When winter begins to turn loose its grip and life begins to renew itself, this is the place to be. At the right time of year you can transition in elevation and experience total leaf-out down in the gorge, and bare trees in the higher elevations such as Cranberry Glades. If you time it just right, you can witness the evolution of spring all in the same day. (FYI: you can find some spectacular deals on area activities and lodging at this time of year.)
Summer rolls around and the weather is warmer. It’s time to get in the water. White water rafting is one of the area’s largest outdoor activities. If the high adventure thing isn’t for you, you can opt to take a scenic, relaxing kayak or canoe tour of one of the local lakes (which happen to be awesome). Canopy tours and the public beach at Summersville lake are also a favorite summer pastime.
Fall is my favorite time of the year. The leaves change and the air turns crisp. Bluebird skies and cool breezes flow over the scenic mountains. A day trip to the highlands to visit some of the scenic overlooks and view the colors of fall is where you want to concentrate your efforts. Fall is also the season for rafting the Gauley River, a controlled release river that offers some of the most technical rafting in the country.
Winter is the time that many church youth groups come to the area to take advantage of our close proximity to some great skiing. Plus nothing says “retreat” like winter in the mountains. The winter wonderland setting of the New River Gorge area is a perfect place to gather your group and have some good old fashioned wintertime fun.
So that’s it. I’m not taking a stand. If you want to know when the best time to come up this way with a youth group is, I’ve got to answer honestly: Anytime. Any time at all.