John Denver’s iconic Country Road lyrics, “Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River” have influenced generations to visit this amazing state. A southeastern Appalachian state, the geography is rugged and the people are hardy.
Centrally located and largest city, Charleston serves as state capital and the locale for a nice selection of West Virginia hotels. Other notable cities are Huntington, 52 miles to the west, and Wheeling, an approximate 3 hour drive northeast. These cities are all small and population centers are scattered, due to the topography of “Mountaineer Country”.
Monongahela National Forest stretches along the eastern state line and provides some of the highest ridges you will encounter. Look for a hidden gem just off Highland Scenic Highway, Falls of Hills Creek Scenic Area. You will be rewarded with three waterfalls, one of which is the second highest in the state. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park is found along the meandering Potomac River, preserving over 180 miles of shipping history. The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers come together at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, in the far northeastern corner of the state. Visitors enjoy museums, exhibits and hiking trails to become acquainted with the history of pioneers, Civil War soldiers and industrial endeavors, all in a tremendously beautiful setting.
Gauley River National Recreational Area offers Class V+ whitewater rapids amid spectacular gorges, along with Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park which memorializes an important Civil War battle. The winding road from Charleston to these parks takes drivers approximately two hours. Drive two hours south of Charleston to find Pipestem Resort State Park, considered the “crown jewel” of West Virginia state parks, with two (yes, 2) 18-hole golf courses, summer amphitheater performances, a year-round Nature Center and an aerial tramway which gives panoramic views of the Bluestone River Gorge below.
New River Gorge National River, in southern West Virginia, offers extreme whitewater rapid rafting along with hiking, biking, climbing and birding. Experience a little slice of heaven when you visit the rugged beauty that is West Virginia!