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Your guide to West Virginia
Welcome to West Virginia
West Virginia earns its nickname as the Mountain State. Its undulating hills, rugged mountains, whitewater rivers, and dramatic gorges have plenty to offer outdoor adventure seekers. Scenic country roads are like a natural amusement park through its pristine wilderness. The state is home to six national parks, more than 220,000 acres of state parks, and thousands of miles of meandering trails. The Monongahela National Forest dominates the eastern part of the state, home to hiking trails, ski resorts, and waterfalls, while anglers and rafters tend to head to the New River Gorge National Park in the south of the state. History buffs and culture seekers won’t be disappointed, either, in this corner of Appalachia. You can explore West Virginia’s distinct cuisine and music through its annual festivals. Charleston, the largest city and state capital, is also home to a range of museums including the highly regarded State Museum.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in West Virginia?
While West Virginia is a popular destination during all four seasons, spring and fall have the best weather for exploring its countryside, making them ideal times to book one of the area’s vacation rentals. During spring, marigolds and yellow lady slippers carpet the hillsides. Every May in Blackwater Falls, the annual Wildflower Pilgrimage guides visitors on informative walks through the blooms. By summer, festival season is in full swing — but keep in mind, so is the humidity. This makes it an ideal time to cool off with some whitewater rafting on the Upper New River or Shenandoah River or by stand-up paddleboarding around the New River Gorge. From September to November, autumn’s blazing foliage takes over the landscape. View the spectacle via train ride, scenic drive, or a spin in an ATV around Hatfield-McCoy Trails. West Virginia’s harsh winters may deter some, but it’s also a good time for cozying up in a countryside cabin or skiing the legendary Canaan Valley Resort State Park.
What are the top things to do in West Virginia?
Monongahela National Forest
Encompassing more than 919,000 acres of the Potomac Highlands on the eastern side of the state, Monongahela National Forest offers spectacular snow-covered landscapes in winter and abundant flora from spring to fall. Plan your trip around daylong walks or multiday hiking routes to backcountry campgrounds. Alternatively, you can explore the forests on mountain bikes and horseback, or drive the 43-mile Highland Scenic Highway. Summit Lake and Smoke Hole Canyon are kayaking spots, and Seneca Rocks is popular with experienced climbers.
Berkeley Springs State Park
Made famous by George Washington, who first visited the area at the age of 16, Berkeley Springs State Park is now best known for its historic bath houses and natural springs. The park is set in the heart of Berkeley Springs, and you can enjoy a selection of spa services at the Roman Bath House.
Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad
Operating as a tourist service since 1997, the Potomac Eagle Scenic Railroad was once the rail connection between Baltimore and Ohio. Now, it’s a heritage railroad line that runs along the Potomac River’s southern branch. You can board the train in Green Spring or Petersburg for a 25-mile, 35-mile, or 76-mile round trip through scenic landscapes.