Get a taste of rock climbing—no experience necessary—at NROCKS Outdoor Adventures.
Picture it. You’re standing on a suspension bridge strung 150 feet off the ground between two razorback edges of a rock formation high in the mountains of Pendleton County. You see treetops swaying beneath you with each shaky step.
Each year, thousands of outdoor enthusiasts flock to NROCKS Outdoor Adventures in Circleville, West Virginia, for their chance to cross that bridge and the rest of the three- to five-hour Via Ferrata, or “iron road,” course. Visitors hike breathtaking trails and climb rock faces using steel rungs—all while safely hooked to a cable that runs the length of the course and is anchored to the rock. It’s a way for even the most amateur adventurer to experience the thrills of rock climbing, no experience necessary.
Via ferrata as we know it today dates back to World War I, when both Austro- Hungarian and Italian armies built protected climbing routes to transport troops and supplies through otherwise impassable mountain ranges. The climbing style came to West Virginia in the early 2000s when Stu Hammett, an attorney living in Maryland, purchased 142 acres of the Nelson Rocks Preserve in 1997 with the goal of making it a traditional climbing park. After the park did not catch on as anticipated, Hammett heard about the via ferrata at Torrent Falls in Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, the first in the United States. He climbed the course in January 2002 and, by June of the same year, opened the via ferrata at Nelson Rocks.
Virginia-based Endless Horizon bought the property in 2009 and expanded the operation, rebranding the park as NROCKS Outdoor Adventures and adding a welcome center, expanded lodging, and zipline canopy tours.
Via ferrata remains NROCKS’ main attraction, though, with 10,000 to 15,000 people completing the course each year. nrocks.com
written by Lori Kersey
photos courtesy of NROCKS