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Fayette resort to add snow-tubing, disc golf

MINDEN, W.Va. -- After years of planning, an adventure resort in Fayette County known for its whitewater rafting is closer to offering winter activities.

ACE Adventure Resort in Minden plans to add a snow-tubing park to its "1,500 acres of fun" along the New River Gorge by the winter of 2013, according to ACE marketing director Beth Gill.

"With so much to offer, it just didn't make sense to only offer summer activities. We spent many years figuring out how to seize the opportunity to accommodate all seasons, and we've finally done it," Gill said during a media event on Wednesday.

The tow-equipped 800-foot-long snow-tubing area will feature six lanes -- three more than originally planned -- and will be the first non-ski resort in West Virginia to offer a tubing hill.

The hill will also double as a water slide during the warmer months, according to Gill.

"We've always had activities outside of rafting that people can enjoy in the colder months, like ATV rides and zip-lining, but the tubing park is what it's all going to be hinged on," Gill said.

A new disc golf park is also nearing completion, she said.

Ace purchased snowmaking machines about three years ago to test the usability of the location -- a hill adjacent to the resort's main lake, Gill said.

The next steps include finalizing the excavation of the land, purchasing additional equipment such as snow guns and planning for transportation of the tubers, Gill said. The adjacent lake will also provide water for the snowmaking equipment

All construction will be done by ACE employees except for landscaping, which will be outsourced locally, Gill said.

Sharon Cruikshank, director of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce and the New River Gorge Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the park will bring even more tourism into the area in addition to increasing local employment.

"This isn't just benefiting tourism -- it impacts the tax base. This is even more of a reason for people to stay and play in their own backyards instead of traveling elsewhere," she said. "This is finally going to address the seasonality, which has always been an issue in West Virginia. It will be a phenomenal benefit for the state as a whole."

While ACE guides more than 50,000 rafting clients each year, the snow-tubing park is just an extension of the activities it offers outside of its staple extreme sport, said Molly Wolff, ACE marketing assistant.

Other activates offered by the resort include rock-climbing, mountain top camping, horseback riding, biking and more.

"You can have fun here for days -- or weeks -- without ever even rafting. It's still the icing on the cake, but there is so much more," Wolff said. "Hopefully our tubers will get hooked on other activities while they're here. I had one of my best ziplining experiences in the winter with beautiful, fresh snow flying around my face - it was gorgeous. People don't realize some of these things are still enjoyable in the colder months."

But 11-year-old Claire Martin, who visited West Virginia for the first Wednesday with her Girl Scout troop, said she likes taking advantage of the summertime.

"There's so much to do here. It's our last day here, and we're sad we have to go," said Martin, of Lynchburg, Va., who spent her day in the Lake-Full of Toys. "If I could describe West Virginia to people, I would just say 'fun.'"

Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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