We often have families with kids who may not be old enough to go rafting on the Lower New River . While there is plenty to do at ACE, there’s a great scenic drive that allows folks to drive down to where the raft trip ends and watch the trip run Fayette Station Rapid. If you ask the trip leader of the trip, he or she can give you an estimated time that they should be at Fayette Station.And if you’re lucky, you might even see a train or two rumbling through the gorge!
Here’s how to get there:
• After leaving ACE, go north on US 19. You’ll cross the New River Gorge Bridge with spectacular views of the rugged mountains that make this part of West Virginia truly wild and wonderful.
• After you cross the bridge, take the next right to stop at the National Park Service visitor center. It is well worth the stop – the building is perched on the edge of the gorge and offers spectacular views of the bridge and the river below. There are many displays, a short slide presentation and a retail area that has all sorts of neat things for kids. The nice rangers there will give you directions on how to get down to the river, but you basically just turn right after you leave the visitor center and keep going down hill!
• You can park in the park service day use area and walk back up the road to the reconstructed bridge that allows vehicular traffic to cross the river from Fayette to South Fayette.
When we first started rafting the New River, this bridge was closed to all traffic. Just imagine that the scenic one-way road you’ve been driving on was 2-way traffic with raft company school buses coming up and down it. Now that was exciting!
But I digress; back to the present. There are pedestrian lanes on each side of the roadway on the bridge, and it’s a great spot to get some pictures of the big bridge. When you finally head out of the gorge, be sure to stop at ACE Adventure Gear Shoppe in the red-roofed building on the right (along with the wide range of outdoor gear available, they also have soft drinks, ice cream and snacks).
Once you go one more mile, you’ll be back at US 19. Now you’re going to turn right to go south, take the Oak Hill Main Street Exit, turn left and follow the signs back to ACE!
This is one of my favorite scenic drives any time of year. What a wonderful part of the world we live in!