7 min read

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

We've officially made it through Week 1 on the road. First destination: Fayetteville, West Virginia and the beautiful New River Gorge National Park!

Our stay was from Sunday to Saturday, and even though we had to work during the day, we still got to explore the park and do a little hiking (and there are much worse places to work!) We already have a list of things to do the next time we visit.

Here's a quick recap of our week in West Virginia!

The campground

We camped at Bear Mountain Cabins & Campground, which has RV and tent sites plus several small cabins you can rent. The location is great, just five minutes down the road from the New River Gorge Bridge and downtown Fayetteville.

It was a super quiet campground (until Thursday, when people started filing in for Memorial Day weekend) which we loved. There were 20-25ish RV sites, and only a few of them were occupied when we got there. Our site was shaded by trees and had a picnic table and fire ring. We walked Hollie on the gravel roads and paths in the woods throughout the campground.

There was a small playground in a field across from the RV sites, where kids played once more families arrived, but during the week it was just us and a handful of others: a lone old guy with a motorcycle, a couple from Charleston on vacation with their dog Jackson, an older couple with a cat.

Quick story: we thought bringing a cat was kind of odd (maybe they were also full-timers), but turns out, the people a few sites down from us had a PARROT! We started occasionally hearing these really weird, loud, screeching sounds and thought it must be some crazy West Virginia bird, but it sounded more like something from Africa or Australia. Joey's bird identifier app couldn't tell us what it was. Then one day we looked out our window, and an eccentric-looking old man was carrying this huge, blue and green macaw on his arm. We sadly didn't get a good picture before they left, but mystery solved.

Day to day life

We had perfect camping weather the entire week: sunny, 50s at night, 70s during the day. So we both worked outside at the picnic table or in our camp chairs the whole time. Our internet connection was good and it was pretty relaxing, working at the quiet campsite under the trees. One upside of working while traveling is that we'll always have a change of scenery. But a downside is that we're surrounded by people who are retired or on vacation, and it's easy to feel like we're on vacation too. Gotta stay motivated!

On Sunday after setting up, I went grocery shopping for the week. We were pretty good about cooking and meal prepping – we only went out once. (That's another thing that will be hard, keeping ourselves from trying ALL the new restaurants and bars in an area. We're trying to be good and cook most of the time, and just go out a couple times per week). The Instant Pot is a lifesaver for making a lot of food at once, like shredded chicken for tacos or bowls, that we can eat almost all week.

Almost every day after work we went out exploring, but one night we just stayed at the campsite, enjoying the quiet and having a campfire and s'mores. We also had a daytime fire one cool morning. It's really nice working next to a campfire.

Random notes: our favorite local radio station was 97.9 "West Virginia's Big Daddy" which played great classic country – we listened to it all week long. We also watched hockey playoffs Monday and Wednesday nights inside the Airstream (sadness when the Canes were eliminated).

Hiking & exploring

Now to the fun stuff! Here's the things we did and sights we saw this week.

New River Gorge Bridge

The New River Gorge Bridge is the main attraction in the area, and it's incredible. Driving across the bridge was crazy the first time and never got old – the gorge is HUGE and the river is so far below. Plus, the bridge itself is beautiful. It made a big difference in the area when it was built – cutting a 30+ minute drive down to just a few seconds.

We went to Canyon Rim Visitor Center first after we crossed the bridge. There's a gift shop and a small museum where you can read about the area's history (mainly in coal mining) and the bridge construction. There's also a few overlooks at the visitor's center: one out back with a river view, one overlooking the top of the bridge (where we got the timelapse video below), and the Canyon Rim Boardwalk, where you walk down a bunch of steps for a great view right next to the bridge.

Fayette Station Road

At the visitor's center we saw a sign for the Fayette Station Road Audio Tour, so we did that one day after work. The audio tour explained the history of the area as we drove down the winding Fayette Station Road into the gorge. At the bottom, we crossed across the small (kind of sketchy in our big truck) Tunney Hunsaker Bridge over the river, and went up the mountain again on the other side. This was the original drive that everyone in the area had to do before the New River Gorge Bridge was built. I can't imagine doing it in the winter or hard rains.

Definitely recommend this drive if you're in the area – it was interesting learning about the history, and has amazing views of the bridge from below.

Long Point Trail

On Wednesday evening, we hiked the Long Point Trail, a 3-mile trail that ends with amazing gorge and bridge views. It was beautiful and pretty easy – you can tell it's a popular sunset spot. I loved seeing all the rhododendrons, even though they weren't in bloom, and mountain laurels. We stayed for a long time at the top taking in the view and listening to the echoes of cars crossing the bridge.

Endless Wall Trail

Friday, we did the Endless Wall Trail for more incredible gorge views. It's about the same length and difficulty as Long Point. You can't see the bridge from this trail, but it has better angles for watching the river and rafters (and the hawks flying over them), plus huge cliffsides where people rock climb. It was another popular trail with several overlooks along the mountainside and the "endless wall."

Food & drinks

After Endless Wall, we went to Freefolk Brewery, a fun place out in the mountains with a big outdoor space and live music. We drank local beer, split a gyro, and had to try pepperoni rolls, which our campsite neighbors told us about – apparently they're a big thing in West Virginia. They definitely hit the spot after hiking.

Saturday morning, we had to pack up and leave. But I went out early to buy a magnet (we're going to collect them), and picked up breakfast biscuits from Tudor's Biscuit World, a WV chain, and coffee from Cathedral Cafe, which used to be a church in downtown Fayetteville.

We really enjoyed our time in Fayetteville and New River Gorge park! It's such a beautiful area with a lot of interesting history and plenty to explore.

I'm sure we'll be back in the future. We already have a list of things we want to do next time: Bridge Walk, whitewater rafting, Grandview, Thurmond Historic Town, more hikes, and maybe some mountain biking.

What's next?

Saturday evening, we arrived in northwest Ohio, where we're staying with my grandparents for the next week. It's beautiful here too, definitely feels like summer! Excited to see family and friends, catch up on stuff, and just relax. Next Sunday, we'll drive about 4 hours north to start the Great Lakes portion of this adventure in Pentwater, Michigan.

Thanks for following along – see ya next week!