Watersports

Lakes, rivers, streams, and more. West Virginia is rich in public waterways, perfect for outdoor recreation. Whether you are looking to learn a new sport like stand-up paddleboarding or want to take the family on a leisurely boat ride, there’s something for everyone in West Virginia’s waters. Grab your kayak, canoe, board or paddle and discover the watersports that await you in Almost Heaven.

Are you dreaming of days spent on the lake or longing for the excitement of a whitewater rafting trip? In Almost Heaven, those dreams can quickly become your reality. With an abundance of lakes, rivers, streams and more, West Virginia can treat you to the perfect day on the water. Not sure where to start? Look no further.

SEASON

The best way to enjoy watersports in Almost Heaven is in the heat of spring, summer and early fall. The contrast between the hot sun and West Virginia’s refreshing lakes, rivers and streams will create the perfect conditions for a day well-spent. So, grab your sunscreen and your favorite beach towel, it’s time to hit the water.


HOW TO START

Not sure where to start planning your day on the water? First, you’ll need to decide on how you’d like to spend your day. Are you hoping to paddle the day away on a kayak or stand-up board? Or are you looking for a way to take the boat out on the lake? What about going for a refreshing swim in a discrete swimming hole?

Use the trip guides below to narrow down what kind of water activities you’d like to pursue. After deciding on what to do, you can find where to go. Choose how long you’ll stay, but after a day on the water, there’s a good chance you’ll not want to leave anytime soon.


FEATURED ALMOST HEAVEN LAKES

SUMMERSVILLE LAKE

Summersville Lake, the state’s largest, boasts 2,700 acres of water and 65 miles of shoreline. With so much room to roam and explore, Summersville Lake is an ideal location for leisurely boat rides, swimming spots and even scuba diving. Not to mention, this lake is one of West Virginia’s most picturesque locations. Navigate crystal clear water amidst one-of-a-kind Almost Heaven landscapes.

STONEWALL JACKSON LAKE

At Stonewall Jackson Lake, 2,650 acres are yours to explore, and with five public boat ramps around the lake, adventuring is made easy. Navigate this expansive lake by swimming, boating, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding. You can also swing by the Marina at Stonewall Resort and check out their CraigCats, exhilarating mini boats that sit up to two people. In the end, no matter your mode of transportation, the water plays no favorites— you’re going to have some of the best lake days of your life.

BEECH FORK LAKE

Spanning over 720 acres, Beech Fork Lake is perfect for those looking for summer days spent on the lake. Bring your own boat, or stop by the lake’s marina, where you can rent pontoon boats, bass boats, fishing boats, canoes and kayaks. Take your pick and hit the water to make summer memories you won’t soon forget. After a day on the water, extend your trip with an overnight state in one of the Beech Fork State Park’s beautiful cabins or pitch a tent and sleep underneath a starry sky.

LOCAL LAKE OUTFITTERS

  • Summersville Lake Marina – If you plan to splash around Summersville Lake this summer, make a stop by the Summersville Lake Marina. Here, you can rent a pontoon or boat to explore “The Little Bahamas of the East” — another name for the beloved Summersville Lake. While you’re at this full-service marina, go ahead and stock up on ice, food, overnight slips and fuel.
  • Sarge’s Dive Shop – If you want to dive a bit deeper, take a trip over to Sarge’s Dive Shop. This facility provides air, rental gear, scuba sales and repair services— all the things you need to safely navigate the 300-foot depth of this lake. This summer, embark on one of their swimming, snorkeling or diving charters for an adventure like no other.
  • Summersville Lake Retreat – Explore the ins and outs of all that Summersville Lake has to offer by renting a pontoon boat from Summersville Lake Retreat and Lighthouse. After a full day of exploration, extend your stay in Summersville by camping on the property or cozying up in one of their fully equipped cabins.
  • Marina at Stonewall Resort – With a boat launch, marina shop, gasoline sales and various boat slips, the Marina at Stonewall Resort is your one-stop shop for exploring Stonewall Lake. Venture out onto the water with one of their pontoon boats or CraigCats for a fun-filled day with friends. What’s more, you can even get a boxed lunch to go.
  • Stonewall Resort’s Recreation Center – If you want to explore the lake at your own pace, Stonewall Resort offers kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddleboards for overnight guests and day visitors alike. Kayak half the day away and paddleboard the other. At Stonewall Jackson Lake, it’s all up to you.
  • Beech Fork Lake Marina – Retreating to Beech Fork Lake for a peaceful day on the water is made easy when you stop by Beech Fork Lake Marina. Here, you can rent pontoon boats, kayaks or canoes for up to 8 hours— ample time to soak in the beauty and serenity of Almost Heaven’s surreal scenery.

Find More Lake Day Inspiration

WEST VIRGINIA’S FEATURED RUSHING RIVERS

NEW RIVER & GAULEY RIVER

Winding through these Appalachian Mountains and forging their own paths, the New River and Gauley River boast sheer adventure and breathtaking beauty. Explorers from near and far trek to these rivers to enjoy distinctive whitewater rapids and rushing waters, and you can too. During the summer months, the New and Gauley Rivers are the perfect place to beat the heat and get your fair share of adrenaline.

LOCAL OUTFITTERS

  • Adventures on the Gorge Resort – With unbelievable beauty around you and the rushing rapids before you, a whitewater rafting trip with Adventures on the Gorge Resort will offer an explanation as to why the New River and Gauley Rivers are world-famous. Spend a day— or two— exploring the ins and outs of these rivers with AOTG.
  • ACE Adventure Resort – Nestled in the heart of the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, ACE Adventure Resort provides direct access to the New — as the locals call it. Embark on one of their whitewater rafting excursions on the Upper or Lower New River to experience pure exhilaration. If you’re a seasoned river runner, you can also take a kayak through the towering rapids. Either way, lifelong memories await you at New River and Gauley River.
  • River Expeditions – Whether you’d like to embark on an exhilarating ride or take a leisurely float, River Expeditions has just what you need for a perfect day on the water. With plenty of options for beginners and experienced rafters alike, the New and Gauley Rivers are for everyone who wants to experience the adventure of a lifetime.
  • Cantrell Ultimate Rafting – Explore all the Upper and Lower New River and Gauley River have to offer with Cantrell Ultimate Rafting. Whether you’re looking to get your feet wet or you’re an experienced paddler, you’ll find a rafting trip suited for you. So, grab a lifejacket, paddle and helmet for the ride of a lifetime.

COAL RIVER

If you’re looking to have a leisurely day on the river with friends, the Coal River is the perfect place for you. This north-flowing tributary meanders through mountains, green forests and natural rock formations towards St. Albans, where it meets the Kanawha River. Stretching from Whitesville to St. Albans, the Coal River Walhonde Water Trail covers 88 miles, broken into distinct 6-12 mile sections (the distance most paddlers can complete in a day). The trail is easily accessible, with 17 launches that are entirely free and open to the public.

Fishing on the Coal River, Wv

LOCAL OUTFITTERS

  • Coal River Kayak and Canoe Rental – A relaxing canoe trip or kayaking excursion on the river comes easy when you make a stop at Coal River Kayak and Canoe Rental. Hit the water by kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard, and on the way, take a quick swim. Memories of a lifetime with family and friends await you on the Coal River.
  • Big Earl’s Campground – Located on the Coal River, Big Earl’s Campground offers its guests direct access to both the excitement and beauty of a day spent on the water. While staying in one of its cabins, you can rent a kayak or rafts that sit one, two or four people. Float the day away and cozy up at the campground by night.

Discover More of West Virginia's Rushing Rivers

To get in on some of the most exhilarating white water adventures, make your way to Gauley River in the fall for rapids that are simply like no other.

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More Inspiration

LISTINGS

Order a special edition vacation guide today

Need even more inspiration? Ready to plan a trip? Order a FREE vacation guide to help lead the way on your Almost Heaven journey. This guide is packed with insider tips and commemorates the 50th anniversary of John Denver's Country Roads.

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Happening now in #AlmostHeaven West Virginia