Fayetteville, West Virginia can’t be explained in a couple of words. The town is unrefined yet elegant, grittier, and probably rougher around the edges than any town you’ve ever been to. Though its forests were once cut to the ground and its hills stripped for coal, today, it could be considered as one of the country’s most prominent hubs for adventure. Impressive stands of hemlock trees jut beautifully from rhododendron groves while high-volume rivers run wildly through some of the oldest gorges in the world. The Nuttall Sandstone formations, flowy mountain biking, and world-class paddling make this Appalachian town one so unique you’ll have to see it to believe it. Here’s a list of our favorite things to do, places to eat, and spots to sleep.
There is no limit to the amount of “epic”ing that can be done here. It doesn’t matter if you are climbing, kayaking, biking, or hiking. The level of solitude and astounding beauty compliments every adventure well.
You can paddle a wide range of rivers like the New River, the Meadow River, Glade Creek, Mann’s Creek, and of course the Gauley River. Fayetteville is fortunate to have some of the country’s (and world’s) finest whitewater. Each paddling destination varies in difficulty, but they all share that absolute West Virginia beauty.
The New River Gorge also just so happens to have some of the finest climbing in the country as well. Steep, often overhanging sandstone cliff faces are wonderfully complimented by intense exposure and outstanding views of the gorge. The cliff faces in the New are inspiring to look at and even more so to climb. It doesn’t matter what type of climbing your into, the New has it.
If you are a mountain biker, same thing applies. The Arrowhead Trail System pays tribute to the New River Gorges native heritage and has some of the finest flow trails in West Virginia. You can bike Dalton, a six mile loop, Adena, which is about 3.5 miles, or zip around Clovis, a 1.1 mile loop all sharing that fast and flowy style of mountain biking we have all come to love. Be prepared to bike through some amazingly beautiful stands of forest, through rhododendron groves, and over some nice creeks. Andy down at New River Bikes is the guy to talk to for all the biking information you’ll need for a successful day of biking.
For breakfast, check out Cathedral Café. Excellent coffee and a huge breakfast menu will fuel any adventure in the gorge. Cathedral Café has a relaxing environment to dine in and gets frequented by the locals who are often as colorful as the light that reflects through the stained glass. Right across the street is Vandal’s Kitchen, another great breakfast-coffee-post-up-and-WiFi spot that prides itself on locally sourced food.
Secret Sandwich Society is the place to go for soups and sandwiches. We often head there after a cold day on the river or after a hard day climbing. Secret has a unique dining scene and awesome food. I recommend the Truman and some of their homemade ketchup to dip their delicious chips into.
Pies and Pints does pizza, and not just any regular pizza. Their grape and gorgonzola pizza will knock your socks off. Pies and Pints is always packed. They have a sweet bar scene and the beer on tap is ever-changing. They have great salads, fast service, and a comfortable dining space.
One of the latest additions to the Fayetteville restaurant scene is The Station. With a sophisticated atmosphere and a kitchen that cranks out locally and seasonally rooted dishes, this upscale dining option fills a much-needed void in the community.
The American Alpine Club Campground is wonderful. Dirtbags will feel like they are staying in a swanky hotel it’s that nice. Each campsite is laid out perfectly with a private, woodsy feel. There are communal fire pits to socialize with other campers and the bathroom/ shower facilities are top notch. What more do you need?
Ray’s Campground is another classic located just a bit outside of Fayetteville. Again, the camp spots are nice and the facilities are well maintained. They have laundry and an outside sink with hot water which, for a vanlifer, it doesn’t get any better than that.