Learning in the Gorge

The New River Gorge is an excellent outdoor instructional space for young families looking to learn more beyond the classroom. Immerse yourself and your children in our environment and study a variety of subjects — from STEM-based programs to history to the arts. The teaching opportunities in the Gorge are endless.

An Outdoor Classroom

While the classroom can provide some hands-on learning opportunities, the Gorge has plenty of ways to learn about science, technology, engineering and mathematics through STEM programs that incorporate outdoor adventures. For a lesson in hydrology, set out on a whitewater journey down the New River, one of the oldest rivers in the world, and gain an understanding about the water cycle and its effect on our environment. Master the subject of ecology in the trees on a ziplining trip! Discover how plants and animals play crucial roles in their environment and understand the biodiversity of the area while on a nature hike. Or study geology on a climbing trip, where you can examine the erosion and evolution of the rock formations in our thousand-foot gorge. Our local outfitters have unique learning experiences for homeschoolers and families alike! 

The New River Gorge National River also offers a great learning option with its environmental education program. These curriculum-based, ranger-led educational programs are free of charge and designed to address the West Virginia Content Standards and Objectives. The curriculum covered ranges from water resources and habitats to West Virginia heritage and national parks. After a day of learning, stay nearby and recharge at one of our cozy cabins

History is Everywhere

The New River Gorge has a number of historical sites that are perfect for your educational itinerary. Check out the National Park Service’s Teaching with Historic Places series where students can learn about the history and significance of the railroad and town of Thurmond. Other historical sites to visit are notable coal mining towns like Nuttallburg and Kaymoor, and Camp Washington Carver, which now serves as a cultural arts center for the West Virginia Department of Culture and History. Discover more Appalachian culture and hospitality by booking a stay at a vacation rental to complete your history excursion.

Art in the Gorge

As we all are aware, the Gorge is a spectacular sight to see, which makes it an ideal spot to start your latest art project. From the fall foliage and the New River Gorge Bridge to public murals from Mt. Hope to Fayetteville, artistic inspiration can be found all over! 

We talked to a local art teacher, Mary Arritt, on how she brings the Gorge into the classroom. 

“We discuss Bridge Day, fishing, boating, hiking and all the great activities to be done in the New River Gorge,” Mary says. “Many students, and myself, are blessed to have memories of adventures in the Gorge.” 

Not only do local adventures spark creativity, but the Gorge is also a great example of a one-point-perspective (a method using a vanishing point, horizon line and a series of straight lines to create a realistic and complex scene), which fits nicely into the art curriculum, Mary adds.

The best advice Mary has for homeschoolers and virtual school students is to get outside and enjoy the autumn colors! Use a sketchbook to keep track of interesting finds along the way like plants and trees. And try to find new and different perspectives. 

“What would the Gorge look like from the sky? From the river? As an ant? On a bike or in a raft?” Mary says. “There are so many things around us to inspire us and to be creative!” 

Plan a trip close to the action and see what the different New River Gorge adventures can teach you!