5 WV adventure festivals not to miss
If you crave beautifully wild terrain, adventure sports, live music and like-minded people, go ahead and put in for a few personal days now, because West Virginia has festivals to keep you playing outside all year long!
Here’s a list of the 5 can’t-miss festivals that will keep you going long after the party ends:
1. American Alpine Club’s Craggin’ Classic Climbing Festival
New River Gorge, September
This weekend of festivities runs the full gamut from gear demos and climbing comps to slideshows and a killer pig roast. This fest is all about the climbing— meet pro climbers, get free swag, check out the latest and greatest gear and climb all the Nuttall Sandstone that you can get up over the course of 3 days.
This festival fills up fast, though, so get your tickets ASAP. Tickets include 2 nights of camping, breakfast and dinner both days, and access to any events (though clinics do cost extra).
2. Slatyfork Fat Tire Weekend
Elk River Touring Center, Slatyfork, August
This 3-day festival is full of activities, with all kinds of races during the day (like the high-RPM Short Track race or the shuttle-supported Enduro race) and bonfires and live music at night— all at this legendary biking destination.
Come to the festival and you’ll quickly find out why Slatyfork is so popular for mountain biking, with its technical rock gardens, singletrack and breathtaking views. You might see little remnants of history, too— there are some 100-year-old rail ties still in the ground!
Ultra and Enduro racers camp for free, plus a post-race meal from Elk River with free beer and a ton of swag.
3. Gauley Fest
The Gauley River is internationally known as one of the best runs of Class V whitewater, and Gauley Fest celebrates its fall season kickoff with a 3-day festival. With more than 600 feet of vertical drop in 24 miles and 100+ rapids, the Gauley is one heck of a time. Classic rapids like Pillow Rock, Iron Ring and Sweet Falls are legendary within the whitewater world.
Live music, industry vendors, raffles, a silent auction and a huge gear swap keep the festival interesting, but the true magic is the camaraderie within the 1,000+ crowd. You’ll meet new friends, hatch future adventures and find that you’ve been welcomed into the whitewater tribe for life.
4. Bridge Day
New River Gorge, October
Bridge Day is the biggest BASE jumping festival in the world, and the only time all year that it’s legal to jump off the nearly 900-foot New River Gorge Bridge. Hundreds of base jumpers come to take advantage. Backflips, wingsuits, spring board propulsion— it’s all fair game. Rappellers can also rap from the bridge down to the river below.
There are a few spots for tandem BASE jumps if you’re new to the sport, plus a highline from the bridge. But even if you don’t join in, this is a fun one to go to as a bystander! For the best view of the jumpers, go to the middle of the bridge early in the morning before the crowds, or reserve a spot to shuttle down below to Fayette Station.
Besides the main event, the atmosphere on the bridge is part flea market, part adventure festival and part parade. Once the jumping ends, head into town for live music, great food and other activities.
Bridge Day is free, but plan ahead for this one, because lodging fills up fast.
5. Cheat River Festival
Cheat Fest, although a bit smaller and less commercial than Gauley Fest, truly encompasses the whitewater experience while showcasing the community. The weekend festival starts just when spring is unleashing enough rain to create some great whitewater conditions in the Cheat Valley.
When you go to Cheat Fest, you get access to the 13-mile classic stretch of Cheat Canyon, a 5K foot race and a Down River Race. This event really delivers all the goods with a great lineup of live music, local food and merchandise vendors, a silent auction and an art market. The whole family is welcome, too! Kids 12 and younger can play at a hands-on tent just for them.
Which adventure festival are you excited for?