How to Plan the Ultimate Summer Trip (on a College Student’s Budget)

Save money on your outdoor adventures in #AlmostHeaven with these travel tips

After a long semester, there’s nothing better than getting away from computer screens and textbooks and getting lost in nature for a couple of days. But planning a summer trip can be intimidating, especially when you feel like your brain is fried after finals week. If you’re dreaming of a summer trip but aren’t sure you can make one happen, don’t worry. We’re here to help!

3 Steps to Planning the Ultimate Summer Trip

Planning a summer trip doesn’t have to eat up a ton of your time and it definitely shouldn’t break your budget. That’s why we recommend visiting a place, like a West Virginia state park or forest, that has all the activities, amenities and accommodations you need on site or nearby. Each state park and forest has activities to enjoy and most have on-site lodging, dining and other amenities.

Ready to start planning the ultimate summer trip? All you need to do is:

1. Make A List

Write down everything you would want to do on a summer trip. Don’t be afraid to think big. Just get your ideas out of your head and see if there’s a connection between your interests. Once you have an idea of what you want to do, it’s time to pick a park.

Pro Tip: Use our list of activities to see what each park and forest has to offer.

2. Pick A Park

Depending on what you included on your list, picking a park may be the easiest step. If you aren’t sure what state park or combination of parks has everything you want to do, read our blog for trip inspiration and search through the list of activities to see what each park has to offer. Now that you have an idea of where you want to go, it’s time to set a budget.

Pro Tip: Check out our list of places to stay and find a park or forest with overnight accommodations.

3. Set A Budget

Once you know what you want to do and where you want to go, you can use our online reservation system to check prices on activities and accommodations. From there, you can get an idea of how much your summer trip will cost.

Pro Tip: Plan a trip with a group of friends and split the costs of food, travel and accommodations.

Parks and Activities for the Perfect Summer Trip

If you still aren’t sure where to go for a summer trip or would rather us provide some suggestions, we’ve got you covered! Here are three summer trip ideas to help you plan your adventure.

Allegheny Mountain Retreat

You don’t have to travel to the Rockies or Smokies to enjoy a mountain retreat when you can enjoy the Alleghenies and spend the week in an upland valley full of rugged landscapes and outdoor adventures. Here, you can enjoy responsible backcountry hiking in Canaan Valley or in the nearby Dolly Sods Wilderness, remarkable waterfalls at Blackwater Falls State Park and nightlife in quaint mountain towns, such as Davis or Thomas.

When it comes to places to stay, there are plenty of places to stay, but we recommend booking a campsite, cabin or lodge room at Blackwater Falls or Canaan Valley Resort state parks.

You might know Canaan Valley for its ski resort, but it’s also one of America’s Best Parks by and one of the 50 Great Places to Stay, according to Arthur Frommer and Washingtonian Magazine. Canaan Valley Resort is home to plenty of summer activities, such as golf, hiking and mountain biking trails. The park has a full-service lodge, restaurants, cabins and campsites.

Known for its iconic 57-foot waterfall, Blackwater Falls is one of the most popular and most photographed state parks in West Virginia. In addition to the main falls, Blackwater Falls also features Elakala Falls, Lindy Point and Pendleton Point overlooks and plenty of scenic viewing platforms where you can catch a glimpse of Almost Heaven. Blackwater has 54 lodge rooms, the full-service Smoke House restaurant, 39 cabins and 65 campsites. For a unique stay, book one of the park’s Tentrr campsites.

New River Gorge Escape

Eyes tired from hundreds, if not thousands of pages of reading? Rest your eyes on the most incredible views in West Virginia at the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve.

The New River Gorge area is home to more than 70,000 acres of public lands, stunning landscapes, incredible outdoor recreation opportunities and the New River Gorge Bridge, an iconic steel arch bridge and modern wonder of the world. The area also has incredible hiking and whitewater rafting along the canyon rim and waterfalls lake adventures within driving distance.

For longer trips in the New River Gorge area, you’ll want to also visit nearby Babcock and Hawks Nest, two of the most popular state parks in West Virginia. What’s great about these two parks is that you can book a campsite, cabin or lodge room within driving distance of the gorge.

Located 10 miles north of the New River Gorge Bridge on State Route 60, Hawks Nest is home to stunning overlooks, jet boat rides, hiking trails and one of the most challenging whitewater boating waterways in the nation. Hawks Nest has 31 lodge rooms that offer one-of-a-kind views from the New River Gorge canyon rim. For a unique stay, book one of the park’s Tentrr campsites.

Located 20 miles southeast of the New River Gorge Bridge, Babcock has incredible scenery, hiking trails, fishing spots and the iconic Glade Creek Grist Mill. When it comes to staying at Babock, you have 28 cabins and 52 campsites to choose from.

Canopy Tour Adventure

After a semester of sitting in lectures, get your adrenaline pumping and take to the skies at the Pipestem Peaks Zipline at Pipestem Resort and experience the thrill of soaring over the Bluestone River Gorge. The zipline, which features nine zips, one cable bridge, one belay and panoramic views, is a great option for a group of friends. Canopy tours can accommodate up to eight guests.

Each tour is guided by two professionals. The longest zip is 1,600 feet and speeds reach 50mph. The highest point in the trip is 350 feet. Tours depart every half hour from the Canyon Rim Center and usually last four hours. Tours finish at the Mountain Creek Lodge, at the bottom of the Bluestone River Gorge, where you can purchase food and drinks before riding the aerial tramway back up the canyon.

For a limited time, save $10 off your Pipestem Peaks Zipline tour when you book online and use offer code ZIPLINE10 at checkout. But hurry! This offer expires May 31.

In addition to the zipline, Pipestem Resort offers plenty of other outdoor activities you don’t want to pass up. There’s the Adventure Lake and Adventure Zone and the park is close to incredible boating and fishing adventures at Bluestone. Want to take it easy after your canopy tour instead? Check out the waterfalls or hiking trails at nearby Camp Creek.

Spend the night at Pipestem Resort, which has two lodges with 141 rooms, 26 cabins and 82 campsites.

Book Your Summer Trip Today

Summer adventures book up fast so now is the time to plan your trip. The best thing about these summer trip ideas is that you can enjoy them on almost any budget and as part of a day trip, weekend getaway or full-length summer vacation.

Book your trip today while there’s still time!

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