Though often ranked among extreme vacation options, whitewater rafting trips aren’t necessarily the white-knuckled, adults-only outdoor thrill adventures depicted in the movies. Many rafting outfitters have developed specialized trips on low-impact whitewater suited for families with children.
ACE Adventure Resort, in West Virginia, has designed a menu that includes family whitewater rafting trips appropriate for youngsters as young as six on a gentle section of the New River, located just four hours west of Richmond.
Descending gradually though national parkland in the New River Gorge, the Upper New river section features several easy rapids and a chance for families to explore nature and several historic sites along the way. According to Beth Gill, marketing director for ACE, the upper New River has become a kind of outdoor classroom experience among families who raft the river.
“There is a lot of fun to be had running the rapids, but it’s much more than that,” Gill explained. “Ghost towns, waterfalls, and wildlife abound in this section of the river, so there’s an opportunity for families to explore science and history throughout the journey.”
After more 25 years guiding on the New and nearby Gauley rivers, the experts at ACE have crafted half-day, day-long, overnight trips, and multi-day adventures that can incorporate kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and an adventure on the resort’s mile-long zip line canopy tour. (Some adventures are only appropriate for children eight or older.)
The Travel Channel in 2010 named ACE the “number one extreme outdoor-adventure resort in North America,” though Gill says the notoriety shouldn’t dissuade parents.
“We’ve made a name for ourselves in the extreme vacation market, but we consider ourselves first and foremost a family resort. Family vacations have been and always will be our priority.”
For more information on ACE and its family trips on the upper New River, visit their website or call 1-800-787-3982 to discuss a family vacation itinerary. Upper New River Rafting