Best Ways To Beat The Heat In The New River Gorge

The heat of late summer can be brutal, especially for folks who are enjoying some vacation time. But for the lucky folks who are vacationing in the New River Gorge, there are plenty of ways to cool down when the late summer heat starts to set in. Here are some of the ways to chill out in Gorge country.


The ultimate way to cool off in this area (at least for the last 40 years or so) is with whitewater rafting. The waters of the New and Gauley rivers will refresh and invigorate any sweltering soul. The lower summer levels of the New River offer plenty of chances to float around in your PFD, but there's still enough splash in the rapids to keep you damp between swims.

The water in the Gauley River is a bit cooler than that of the New River due to the depth of Summersville Lake. Even in late summer, the water flowing out of Summersville Dam is about 56 degrees and may warm up to the high 60s by the time it makes its way to the lower reaches of the river.  This makes for a great way to cool off on a hot summer day.

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine

Another great way to cool off in the Gorge area is a visit to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.  You’ll take a trip through the underground mine, where the temperature averages 58 degrees. Besides that, you can do some exploring of the many renovated coal camp structures on the property. A museum, visitor center, gift shop, and company store also offer some “cool” options that will also keep you entertained.

Zip Line

Zip lining is another “cool” way to enjoy your Gorge vacation. A few area zip lines are “canopy tours.” In other words, you will be moving from tree to tree through thickly-forested areas. The zip lines between the trees will send you flying through the woods at speeds close to 40 miles per hour.  This speed, accompanied by the shade of the dense canopy of this Eastern Deciduous Forest, will keep you cool. Of course, the excitement of flying along, hanging from a wire, may keep you from noticing what the temperature is.

A Few Other Ways To Stay Cool

There are a few other ways to take an edge off the summer heat while you are visiting the New River Gorge:

  • Visit Swirl, a local ice cream and candy shop in downtown Fayetteville.
  • Bridge Brew Works‘ ice cold beer can help ease summer heat. Offerings from this local brewery can be found at many restaurants and bars in the area.
  • Orb the Gorge lets you roll down a hill in a large plastic ball. We know it sounds fun, and to combat the summer heat, add water into the mix to cool things off.
  • At the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, step into a darkened, cool theater for a movie about the New River Gorge and its people.

How do you stay cool in the Gorge?