Outdoors at UVa Activities

Outdoors at UVa regularly plans adventures for many different types of activities. Below are descriptions of some of our more popular activities. If you would like to see more photos of past trips we've led, please visit our photo gallery of past adventures. You can also see a year's worth of past adventures to get a feeling for what we do and how often. We will also have several informational meetings so you can learn about who we are and what we do.


We have an extremely active group of climbers who lead trips regularly. We lead trips for beginning, intermediate, and advanced climbers. Charlottesville is within easy driving distance of great climbing; we frequently drive to Little Stony Man Cliffs on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Seneca Rocks in West Virginia, and the New River Gorge. We also lead lots of bouldering trips, and we're near the best indoor climbing gym on the East Coast, so we go there frequently too. We've even led trips out West. Our climbers have been all over the world, including the Italian Alps and Denali, and one of our leaders plans to summit Mount Everest soon.

Why is climbing so popular? If you haven't been climbing, you haven't experienced the adrenaline thrill, the amazing sense of accomplishment, and the glorious tired-but-happy feeling at the end of the day. If you have, you need no explanation.


Charlottesville is next door to whitewater heaven. The Gauley River is world-famous for its intense whitewater rafting (the world championships were held there recently). We've also got the New River, the James, and the Rivanna for excellent tubing, whitewater and ocean kayaking, and canoeing, and we're close to the Great Dismal Swamp and Virginia Beach. Walnut Creek Park is just outside of town, and we have held many beginner kayaking classes there.

We have a very experienced whitewater kayak instructor who leads more trips than anyone else in the club, so if you want to get wet, you will have the chance! If you're not that intense about watersports, perhaps you'd like to take an afternoon hike and swim in a pool at the base of a waterfall. The Shenandoah National Park is loaded with waterfalls and swimming holes, and we lead hikes there often.

Hiking, Trail Running, and Backpacking

Hiking is one of our most popular activities. Charlottesville is right next to the Shenandoah National Park, which has hundreds of miles of loop trails, making it great for anything from afternoon or day hikes to weekend backpacking trips. The Appalachian Trail also runs through the park. Charlottesville itself is circled by the Rivanna Trail, which is popular for running and biking, and UVa's Observatory Mountain is crisscrossed with running and cycling trails as well. We're also very close to the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, which is amazingly beautiful and makes an awesome weekend backpacking trip; or Old Rag, which is well known for its beauty.


The Appalachian Mountains are full of caves. In fact, Western Virginia and West Virginia are known world-wide for the sheer number of caves. Popular caves include Breathing Cave, Marshall's Cave, Trout and New Trout, and Aqua. Caving is completely different from any other sport because of the environment. Caves stay the same temperature year-round, which makes them feel warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Appalachian caves vary from wet to dry, and there is a wide range of difficulty levels.


Club members are very involved in maintaining and giving back to the outdoors they appreciate so much. We currently maintain a section of a highway through the Adopt-A-Highway program, and regularly participate in river cleanups and trail maintenance. Members also participate in charity events such as 5k runs for various causes and working with underprivileged children in challenging activities such as high ropes courses.

Horseback Riding

There are lots of places around to go horseback riding, and it's a very popular activity with our members. Our horseback riding trips fill up faster than any other trips we organize!

We often drive to Master's Inn near Lynchburg. Master's Inn has proven to be our most popular destination for horseback riding; members love it. If you want to go horseback riding, keep your eyes on the email list and reserve a spot before the trip fills up!

Skiing, Snowboarding, and Snow Tubing

Charlottesville is near two popular ski resorts, Wintergreen and Massanutten, and many members go skiing on a weekly basis during snow season. We're also a couple of hours from Snowshoe in West Virginia, which is known as the best skiing on the East Coast, and we typically organize several large trips there every winter. Since the club pays for most of the lodging and food, these trips end up being very inexpensive and lots of fun. We usually go on Friday night, head out to the slopes Saturday, then come back to a big house (or two) and cook a fantastic dinner, then play cards and talk till late and go skiing again on Sunday. We've also organized trips to Vermont, and members have skied all over the United States and world.


Charlottesville itself is a popular biking destination for both mountain and road biking. Observatory Mountain, which is next to UVa, has miles of trails for biking, and Charlottesville boasts the Rivanna Trail too, which is close to you no matter where you are. There are also lots of parks, such as Walnut Creek, which has miles and miles of bike trails ranging from easy fun to very challenging. The club owns extremely nice bikes, and they're free for members to borrow. We lead biking trips very frequently; most are afternoon rides just to get out on the trail, but occasionally we organize something longer, and we do road trips as well. Some members also compete in races, such as 150-mile races; if you are a biker, there is a lot to do around Charlottesville.


The club leads many other adventures not listed above. In the past several years, we've led skydiving and hang-gliding adventures, had lots of potlucks, chili cookouts, high-ropes courses, movie nights, snow football games, ice cream socials, and more. The members-only mailing list is your resource for inviting others to take part in outdoorsy activities, so if you feel moved to go trail running or take an afternoon bike ride and want someone to do it with, there's almost always someone eager to do it with you (with over 300 members, it's a good bet that someone will respond). You never know what you'll find — such as this beautiful snake resting in a waist-high tree at Dolly Sods. In general, if you love nature and the outdoors, you are liable to find someone who's got similar interests!