From Its Riverfront Capitol To Its Charming Mountain Towns These Are The Best West Virginia Bases From Which To Explore The Mountain State
Although renowned for its outdoor adventures unsurprisingly, given its the Mountain State theres a whole other world of rich history and warm Southern hospitality to be found in West Virginias cities and charming mountain towns. From the capital of Charleston to bustling Fayetteville via the crowd-free streets of Summersville, and the historic riches of Harpers Ferry, travellers will find unique stays, a rich Appalachian culture of food, wines and craft beers, and good old-fashioned Southern charm in which to immerse themselves.
Monongahela National Forest A Beautiful Place To Explore With Gorgeous Vistas Country Roads And Flowing Streams
A vast paradise of beautiful forest, rugged landscape and free-flowing rivers, the Monongahela National Forest is located in the Allegheny Mountains of East Virginia. Engulfing more than half of the Pocahontas County, the Monongahela encompasses some of the most ecologically diverse areas in the US. With five federally designated wilderness areas, river systems, the Mon provides a wide range of recreational opportunities.
Hike the majestic Falls of Hills Creek, rock climb the quartzite-capped Seneca Rocks, camp beside the beautiful settings of Williams River, or simply drive through the Highland Scenic Highway, the Monongahela is an ideal place to explore the beauty of nature.
Seneca Rocks State Park
One of the most impressive and recognizable natural sights in the whole of West Virginia, the distinctive Seneca Rocks lie at the heart of a wonderful state park of the same name they are definitely worth checking out if you want to go rock climbing or hiking in a pristine setting.
The jagged rock formations have a remarkable 375 different rock climbing routes for you to try out, and the panoramic views from the tops of both North Peak and South Peak make the climb well worth the effort.
With the gently ululating forest-coated hills below only punctuated by seas of green grass and fields, the scenery is a delight. Hiking along the state parks many paths and trails is a lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon.
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Appalachian National Scenic Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a marked hiking trail that travels through 14 states, including West Virginia. The trail is approximately 2,200 miles long and extends from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Most of the trail passes through forest or wild lands, although some sections border farms and towns.
The trail claims to be the longest hiking-only trail in the world. West Virginia only has about 4 miles of the trail passing through it and most of the states sections are located in the historic town of Harpers Ferry, a popular stop on the trail. There is no camping on the Harpers Ferry section, but there are hiker-friendly accommodations in town.
799 Washington Street, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425, Phone: 304-535-6331
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And It Has Food And Drink Scenes Worthy Of The Nature Around It
While the outdoors fill the days, Fayettevilles diverse and creative food and drinks make the nights just as entertaining. The town could have easily become another casualty of the coal industry, but the former coal capital has shifted its focus to adventure and tourism. With that has come bars and restaurants that arent just good for a town of 3,000 people they could hold their own in a big city.
The newly opened Southside Junction Tap House is a beer bar with a local selection worthy of places youd find in Colorado or California, and its often shoulder-to-shoulder packed with river guides sampling beers from the nearby Bridge Brew Works. The brewery is only a few miles from downtown and specializes in appropriately western beers like the Hellender Black and Goliath Double IPAs. Though the Black Diamond lager is the one youll find at bars throughout town.
Past the historic early-20th-century buildings along Court Street in the downtown area, youll find the most acclaimed restaurant in town is the Secret Sandwich Society, where playful sandwiches named after presidents have garnered the national attention. Try the Ulysses with roasted pork loin, peach jam, swiss, and greens. Or, if youre not a meat eater, the Fillmore with fried eggplant, cherry peppers, onions, and roasted-garlic mayo is a must-get.
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Bear Rocks Preserve One Of West Virginias Most Loved Beauty Spots
An iconic treasure of the Mountain State, the Bear Rocks Preserve is a 477-acre subalpine landscape covered in heath barrens, massive boulders, and windswept shrubs. Owned by the Nature Conservancy, the Bear Rocks form the northern border of the very popular Dolly Sods Wilderness of the Monongahela National Forest.
Over the years winds and rains have sculpted the quartz and sandstone rocks into quirky formations. At 4,000 feet elevation, the high rock and scoured ridgelines make for an excellent hike to witness & capture the breathtaking beauty of this massive landscape.
New River Gorge National Park A Slice Of A Scenic Paradise And One Of The Best Places To Visit In West Virginia
Easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in West Virginia the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is protected by the United States National Park Service.
The sparkling water of the New River is known for the calming presence amongst the West Virginian woods. One of the oldest rivers of the continent, the New River Gorge National River conserves approx. 70,000-acres of land between the towns of Hinton and Fayetteville. Established in 1978, the New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent.
The countrys best whitewater rafting and rock climbing destination, New River continues to shape the geological features of the longest and deepest gorge in the Appalachians. Whether you seek solace or adventure, an experience in the New River will leave you renewed and forever changed!
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Gauley River National Recreation Area
The Gauley River National Recreation Area includes 25 miles of the Gauley River and 6 miles of the Meadow River, both of which flow through scenic gorges and valleys with a diverse range of natural and cultural features.
When the water from Summersville Dam is released in September, whitewater rafting enthusiasts flock to the Gauley River to experience what many consider to be one of the most exciting whitewater rafting experiences in the world.
Gauley River is also prominent for having many unusual plant species, like Virginia Spiraea, Appalachian Blue Violet, and Balsam Squaw-weed.
Charming Small Towns In West Virginia
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I have said it once and Ill say it again West Virginia is one of the most underrated places in the United States. And these charming small towns in West Virginia are some of the states best attractions!
While most West Virginia towns and cities are not all that populated, to begin with, youd be surprised at how much you can do in and nearby these WV towns!
I am sure we missed some really amazing small towns in WV so please let us know your top picks in the comments section. Thanks!
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New River Gorge National River
Stretching all the way from the city of Hinton to Hawks Nest State Park, New River Gorge National River is one of the oldest and most majestic rivers in North America. Start your visit at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, where you can watch an informative video and stroll down a boardwalk to the New River Gorge Bridge, then go up to the Grandview lookout point for some breathtaking views. If you have a bit more time, you can also hike the Endless Wall Trail, take a whitewater rafting trip down the Lower Gorge, or visit the coal town ruins at Nuttallburg.
Glen Jean, WV 25846, Phone: 304-465-0508
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Blackwater Falls State Park
One of the most photogenic places in the whole of West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park certainly is majestic the glorious waterfall that lies at its heart is undoubtedly the highlight of what is on show. Covering a vast swathe of territory in the Allegheny Mountains, the state park is centered around Canaan Valley and Blackwater River, with lots of lovely forests and woodlands found to either side.
Exploring the myriad of paths and trails that meander through the stunning scenery is a magical experience as you pass beautiful viewpoints and sparkling waterfalls. It is well worth camping overnight in the park if you have the opportunity.
Coursing over Blackwater Falls, the white jets of water stand out delightfully against the greens of the trees lining the riverbanks. Fall is a particularly pleasant time of year to visit, as the foliage creates an unforgettable scene.
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West Virginia Attractions: Ritter Park
Ritter Park Historic District is the heart of downtown Huntington and home to a municipal park of the same name. The city park is located on Huntingtons Southside and features a range of activities. The parks 75 acres include a crushed limestone walking, jogging and biking trail, a dog park, and a rose garden with over 3,000 award-winning roses.
The park additionally features large picnic shelters, playgrounds, and plenty of open space. The American Planning Association has included Ritter Park on its list of 10 Great Public Spaces for its design and amenities. The park is a popular location for summer weddings as well as family gatherings and other events.
Ritter Park Historic District, Huntington, WV 25701, Phone: 304-696-5954
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Cranberry Glades Botanical An Exotic Ecosystem Which Is Also Home To Ancient Bogs
Offering a stark different climate from Central West Virginia, the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area preserves the largest area of bogs in the Mountain State. The predominant acidic wetlands of the north are found in the Hillsboro Town of Pocahontas County.
Part of the Monongahela National Forest, the bogs are full of cranberry plants, wild orchids, and carnivorous bug-eating pitcher plants. The 750-acre of the botanical area offers a boardwalk to explore the unique ecosystem and learn about this landscape of the southern mountains.
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Most Beautiful Small Towns In West Virginia
Though West Virginia is often underestimated as a travel destination, it is a state that has a stunning landscape and rich historical significance. Aside from the breathtaking mountains and charming small towns, there is warmth of community that definitely needs to be experienced.
When you want such ambiance, head to any of these 10 most beautiful small towns in West Virginia.
Coopers Rock State Forest
Coopers Rock State Forest, opened in 1936, is home to some of Almost Heavens most iconic views. The park, which is about 13 miles from Morgantown and located just off I-68, has canyon overlooks, picnic shelters, historical sites, 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, sandstone cliffs for climbing, cross-country ski terrain, a lake ideal for trout fishing, and a nearby river for rafting.
In case you plan to visit in the wintertime, note that the main gate to Coopers Rock State Forest is closed until April. You can park in the day-use parking area and the forest is still accessible by foot or bike.
West Virginia Getaways: Hillbrook Inn & Spa
The Hillbrook Inn and Spa is located on land that originally belonged to George Washington. The three properties are spread across 30 picturesque acres and guests can choose from 18 guest suites with modern amenities such as wireless Internet and iPads, as well as private baths, plush robes, and air conditioning. There are even cottage suites, while some rooms have private porches, gas log fireplaces, and double whirlpool tubs.
While at the inn, you have an option of taking a cooking class or relaxing in the spa with a massage or other pampering treatment. Guests can enjoy a gourmet breakfast with every stay, and it includes freshly brewed coffee, juice, fresh fruit, baked goods, and a hot dish. Alternatively, have a traditional sit-down breakfast with a chefs choice prix fixe menu or a continental breakfast. You can also enjoy a romantic dinner at the Redbook Restaurant, located on site. Read more
4490 Summit Point Road, Charles Town, West Virginia 25414, 304-725-4223, 800-304-4223
Seneca Rocks And Monongahela National Forest
Protected by the Monongahela National Forest, the Seneca Rocks are easily one of the most iconic landmarks in West Virginia. Your visit should begin at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, which offers stunning views of the Rocks and interpretive tours on a seasonal basis. This is also where you’ll find the trailhead for the steep 1.3-mile trail that leads up to an observation platform near the top of the Rocks. Experienced rock climbers can also explore the hundreds of mapped climbing routes on the Seneca Rocks themselves, and if you like fishing, catch and release fishing is permitted near the visitor center.
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Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge
The Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge protects more than twenty islands scattered along a 392-mile stretch of the Ohio River, and it’s home to a diverse range of plants and animals, including endangered freshwater mussels. Hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife spotting are among the most popular activities here, and the best trails start near St. Marys and Williamstown. Before exploring the refuge, visitors are advised to stop by the Refuge Visitor Center in Williamstown to learn about the landscape and the creatures who call it home, but interpretive signs can be found along some of the hiking trails as well.
St Marys, WV 26170
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Babcock State Park One Of The Most Stunning Places To Visit In West Virginia
Adjacent to the bubbling New River Gorge National River with rugged cliff tops and a serene atmosphere is the beautiful Babcock State Park. Located in the Fayette County of West Virginia, the Babcock state park covers 4,127 acres of pristine beauty to connect with nature.
The heart of the park is the legendary Glade Creek Grist Mill which is a replica of the original Coopers Mill. A living monument of the numerous mills which once thrived in West Virginia, the Glade Creek provides freshly ground cornmeal. Seep in the breathtaking views of the cliffs and waterfall or stroll along the Boley and Glade Creek Lake, this iconic state park is a perfect tranquil retreat.
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West Virginia State Capitol Charleston A Beautiful Building To Explore In West Virginia
An inspiring State Capitol building, the West Virginia State Capitol is one of the most impressive buildings in Charleston. The classical-style legislature building overlooks the scenic Kanawha River and its swirling waters.
The magnificent building with impressive flooring, delicately engraved flowers, Austrian crystal chandeliers and marble walls is one-of-a-kind. Built-in the 1930s by renowned architect Cass Gilbert, the state capitol is a part of the West Virginia Capitol Complex and the Governors Mansion.
Standing atop the building is the highest state capitol dome in the United States. Watch the Senate in session or catch a glimpse of the shimmering dome at night, this historic building is truly a sight to behold.