Category Archives: Visitors of NROC

David Kurtz’s Experience at Nelson Rocks

As a native of West Virginia, David Kurtz has always been active in the outdoors. He has tried everything from hiking, biking, motorcycling, rafting and kayaking but he never got sucked into the world of rock climbing. It was his self-proclaimed “concern” for heights that kept him on the climbing walls and off of exposed rocks; however, Nelson Rocks intrigued him and he made the trip to see us on September 21 with the intent to tackle the Via Ferrata. And he did.

He kindly shared his experience with us and we felt compelled to share it with the rest of you. To read his blog post, “I came, I climbed, I conquered,” click here!

Customer Review

Check out Blair N.’s review of his recent trip to Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center. We are so glad he had a great experience, thanks for helping to spread the word Blair!

I did the canopy tour at Nelson Rocks and came back the next day and did the via ferrata as well.

The canopy tour is ~12 zip lines, 3 bridges and a free rappel off the last zip line platform to the ground (vice climbing down a ladder). The 2 guides were excellent and made it very pleasant and enjoyable. There were 2 kids in the group and the guides kept them entertained the whole time. For maximum safety they handle all the clipping in/out. For first timers, general scaredy cats and kids who might not clip in correctly, this is a great idea and puts you at ease. For seasoned zipliners who don’t normally need handholding it is what it is. One unique safety feature is the zip line is actually a double line. You are simultaneously clipped into two completely separate lines (one line is 6 inches above the other), making a fully redundant system. Not that you need redundancy when using 14,000-pound test steel cables, but extra safety never hurts. It is a sign of the careful thought that went into designing the course and how they run the tour. All in all a great time, great guides and a well designed and safe course.

The via ferrata was absolutely awesome. This was my third via ferrata (the other two were Whistler Mountain and Mont Tremblant) so I have a little bit of perspective. The course is really well designed and the views are spectacular.

For newbies new to via ferratas it is essentially ‘serious rock climbing for beginners’. If you’ve done a simple top rope rock climb a few times and are comfortable being on rock you might be looking for a little more adventure. However there is a big jump from a standard day climb run by the local sporting goods store or outfitter and lead climbing on bigger walls. You don’t just jump into lead climbing without some training and there is a much higher risk and danger level when placing your own cams and you have no idea what you are doing. That creates an exponentially higher risk of you falling 100 feet off a rock face. Via ferratas allow you to experience much bigger walls and climbs with much lower risk due to the presence of a pre-installed steel cable you simply clip into. This doesn’t mean zero risk however. You are responsible for your actions and bad things can happen if you do something stupid like completely disconnect yourself from the safety cable and pick that moment to fall.

Back to Nelson Rocks, the guide gave a very informative safety lecture and tested us all a bit before letting us proceed very far into the course. The climbing equipment is all top notch. The course is ~80% ladder rungs (very steep areas) and ~20% free climbing/scrambling (not steep areas) however you remain tethered to the steel safety cable the entire time. The ladder rungs have a rough surface to provide better grip for hands and feet; another nice safety touch. You climb and then traverse one of the rock ‘fins’ and then work out to the edge, step through a crack to the other side, traverse that face, cross a 200-foot bridge to a parallel fin and then climb that to the top. A great mix of terrain, breathtaking views and a good workout. The whole thing ran about 5 hours including the approach hike so you get your money’s worth. At the end of the via ferrata when you finally unclip for good, you are high up on the ridge and we hiked up the last hundred yards to the summit for absolutely spectacular views before starting our hike down to the base.

Bottom line: A great day, great memories, great fun, a really great course and a great guide. Highly recommended and well worth going out of your way for if anywhere in the VA, western MD, southwest PA or northern WV area. I can’t recommend it highly enough. There is not another via ferrata within several hundred miles, so if you are anywhere in the area, it is definitely worth the drive. You definitely need to very comfortable and not scared of heights to do this. This is real rock climbing and you will be well over 100 above the tops of the trees staring straight down for parts of the course. You also traverse a 200 foot bridge which is way up above the trees. You also need to be in moderate physical shape as it is several hours of casual but steady physical activity and then a long (downhill) hike once you finish the course. While it is open to kids 13 and older, I think 14-15 would be better because of the height and safety considerations.

As an aside, I explored the cabins while there. They have several brand new cabins with porches, propane tank for a lantern, a new shower house and a nice picnic area. The second floor of the main building also is setup as apartments. They have clearly been investing in building the place up and making it nice and it really shows. This would be a GREAT place for a family, multi-family or girl scout/boy scout weekend.

One last note: Nelson Rocks is in Judy Gap, WV. Judy Gap is no more than an intersection. Make sure you gas up before you head there.

Blair N.

North Wales, PA


*This review can be found at:

Valley Ridge Governors School Visits NROC

Nelson Rocks was pleased to welcome the Valley Ridge Governors School.  The students were working on a science based summer program that incorporated many local businesses. Before arriving at Nelson Rocks, the students spent an evening at The Green Bank Radio Telescope learning to operate the telescope and conduct research on their own. They then arrived at Nelson Rocks to try out the Via Ferrata and North Fork Valley Canopy Tour. On their tours, the students learned about the geologic history of the area, the history of the American Chestnut and invasive species that are found throughout the property. After their tours at Nelson Rocks they headed up to The Mountain Institute for some class time and then ventured back to Harrisonburg, Virginia to James Madison University to research the American Chestnut blight in a lab.

Best of Luck to the Valley Ridge Governors School on your research!

Camp Good Grief Visits NROC

Camp Good Grief’s mission is to help children who have experienced the death of a loved one. Through a combination of therapeutic and fun activities, children express their feelings and learn new ways to cope with grief. They took time away from a stay at The Mountain Institute on Spruce Knob to visit NROC and zip through the Canopy Tour for some fun. Thanks for coming, everyone!

Girl Scouts Visit NROC

NROC was pleased to welcome a troop of Girl Scouts from the Washington D.C. area.  The girls were camping in the North Fork Valley for a few days hiking, swimming, enjoying programs at The Mountain Institute and Zipping down The North Fork Valley Canopy Tour. Check out some photos from their trip!

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Manny and Patricia’s Full-Moon Climb

Manny and Patricia, members of the New York City Hiking and Outdoor Adventure Group, visited us for the Full-Moon Via Ferrata Climb! Check out these awesome pictures from their adventure!

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Thanks for coming to climb the Via at Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center! Hope it was an amazing experience for you both!

Bachelor Party at the NFV Canopy Tour

Drew Cummings, from Buckhannon, West Virginia, had his bachelor party on the North Fork Valley Canopy Tour  at Nelson Rocks Outdoor Center! Here is what he and his friends had to say about their trip!

 “Full of laughs and excitement. It was the best part of the weekend. I would do it again in a heart beat.” – Jarren M.

“Awesome lines and awesome guides!” – Drew C.

“Spectacular adventure!!! So much fun. The experience was great and the guides add so much to the enjoyment.” – Joshua S.

Check out a few photos from their visit:

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Thanks so much, Drew, for choosing NROC as the location for your bachelor party! We’re glad you enjoyed your time here and we hope to see you again soon!

Bird Enthusiasts Visit NROC

Our Guide Nicole had this to say about the group of Bird Enthusiasts who visited from Canaan Valley May 29:

“Leaders from the Canaan Valley Birding Festival joined us for a relaxed zip through the canopy. Other guests that visited during the Canopy Tour included the yellow-billed cukoo, red-eyed vireo, scarlet tanager, and an orchard oriole.”

We’re glad you visited and hope to see you again!

Events & Adventures Group Visits NROC

The Events & Adventures group from DC came to visit NROC in late May to climb the Via Ferrata. They have visited us at least once a season and are always a joy to have!

We received some wonderful feedback from the group’s leader for the event:

“This event was amazing–my absolute favorite with [Events & Adventures] to date! The registration process was quick and painless, and the guides were great. It was a well-run, professional outfit. I would HIGHLY recommend this trip in the future.”

Thanks so much for your feedback–looking forward to seeing you all in the future!

Family Visits the Via

A family, the Pellerins, recently visited NROC and had this to say about their experience:

 “When we called there were no tours open but they managed to have an additional tour set up for us. We appreciate their flexibilty and responsiveness. This is our 3rd time at Nelson Rocks Preserve. We did the zip line last year and we came back for the Via Ferrata. We had a fabulous time, it was doable but challenging. We love the views all around, they’re spectacular! Our Guide was patient, helpful and very charming. We really enjoyed our time with Jim and we’ll be back again.” – The Pellerins

Glad you enjoyed your visit and hope to see you again!

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