Appalachian Culture & Color
Imagine yourself in the hills – maybe even back in a holler - of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, then add to that the vibrant colors of all the hardwood trees in autumn. This tour includes a good splash of Appalachian culture. Enjoy a local storyteller, some mountain music, a coal mine, a train ride, Appalachian crafts, and much more!
Day 1: Today enjoy getting acquainted with your fellow travelers. Relax as we make our way across Kansas and Missouri and stay east of St. Louis for our first night.
Day 2: Continuing east, we cross Indiana and into Ohio as we start seeing some hardwoods with the fall brilliance on the hillsides. Our overnight is in Marietta, Ohio, just across the Ohio River from West Virginia. Marietta is a bustling riverboat port from its earliest history. This evening we are in for a real treat, as we have a local resident entertaining us with Appalachian folk music and storytelling. (B, D)
Day 3: This morning we tour the Willow Island Lock and Dam (lock schedule permitting). We get an inside look at how the Corps of Engineers open and close gates used for boats and barges navigating the Ohio River. Next, we visit Blennerhassett Island, Ohio River’s most famous island. The only way to experience the enchantment of the island is via a sternwheeler ride just as they did in a bygone era. Enjoy a wagon ride tour of the island and a tour of Blennerhassett’s mansion. This incredible home gained a reputation for being the West’s most beautiful home. Then it’s on to Buckhannon WV for the next two nights. (B, L, D)
Day 4: Today we visit the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope at the Green Bank Observatory. Scientists come from around the world to study here. Next, we head to Cass, WV to ride the Cass Scenic Railroad! The Cass features a powerful 1900s steam locomotive. Our ride takes us to the most remote and mountainous region in the state, hoping to find brilliant fall colors. Box lunches are served aboard this historic train. (B, L)
Day 5: Our first stop is at the New River Gorge Bridge Visitor Center. We get a great view of the second-highest bridge in the US, standing 876 feet above the New River rapids below. The next 2 nights are at the beautiful setting of Hawks Nest State Park, in Ansted, WV. After dinner at the lodge, enjoy a local storyteller recounting her memories of the Coal Camp. (B, L, D)
Day 6: We start the day at the lush, 11,000-acre estate, The Greenbrier, to tour this de-classified Bunker. The Greenbrier used to be a top-secret US Government relocation facility for Congress. Our Greenbrier lunch overlooks their beautiful grounds. This afternoon we visit the Coal Exhibition Mine and museum. Then we ride on a “man trip” with a retired coal miner and experience authentic views of low seam coal mining from its earliest manual stages to modern mechanized operation. (B, L, D)
Day 7: This morning we take an exhilarating jet boat ride on the New River with a spectacular view of the New River Gorge Bridge. It's the second-longest single-arch steel span in the world. This evening, we visit the Heritage Farm Museum & Village for a guided tour. This historic site includes more than 25,000 square feet of Appalachian artifacts in 7 museums and 30 structures, including a 19th-century village. It is also the first Smithsonian Affiliate in West Virginia. (B, D)
Day 8: Sit back and relax as our motorcoach heads west through the beautiful rolling hills and horse farms of Kentucky. This morning we visit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement Farm. The farm provides a dignified retirement to Thoroughbreds whose racing and breeding careers have come to an end. You can meet many of the horses and hear about their stories. Tonight we stay west of St. Louis. (B, L)
Day 9: Today it’s homeward bound, with wonderful memories of the Appalachian culture and colors. (B)