Everyone knows that West Virginia is a state filled with unbelievably beautiful scenery, both natural and man made (think the New River Gorge Bridge). If it’s natural attractions that strike your fancy, here are 12 that are not to be missed.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, Elkins, WV
Located near Elkins, WV in the Monongahela National Forest, this 10,215-acre area is one of the few wilderness areas on the East Coast. Amidst the wind-carved sandstone, grassy meadows and red spruce, the high plateaus get you closer to the brilliant shiny stars than any other part of the state, and the sunrise brings the most spectacular views.
2. Blackwater Falls, Blackwater Falls State Park, Davis, WV
Blackwater Falls State Park is named for the falls of the Blackwater River whose amber-colored waters plunge five stories then twist and tumble through an eight-mile long gorge. The "black" water is a result of tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. The falls are one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia.
3. Seneca Rocks, Seneca Rocks, WV
Seneca Rocks is a large crag and local landmark in Pendleton County in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, USA. It is the only "true peak" — a peak inaccessible except by technical rock climbing techniques — on the East Coast of the United States. One of the best-known scenic attractions in West Virginia, the sheer rock faces are a popular challenge for rock climbers.
Seneca Rocks is easily visible and accessible along West Virginia Route 28 near U.S. Route 33 in the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area of the Monongahela National Forest.
4. Grandview State Park, Beckley, WV
Grandview is a peaceful place to relax and unwind while enjoying outstanding views of the New River. From 1400 feet above the river at Main Overlook, visitors to Grandview are rewarded with one of the most spectactular views in the park. From the Main Overlook visitors can also get a glimpse of some of the gorge's unique cultural history. From here you see an active railway and the town of Quinnimont, where the first coal was shipped out of the gorge in 1873. Don't miss the views from Turkey Spur Overlook, and be sure to walk the woodland trails.
5. Lost World Caverns, Lewisburg, WV
If you think the scenery above ground in West Virginia is spectacular, wait until you go underground. Lost World Caverns, discovered in 1942, descend 120 feet below the Earth's surface and take about 45 minutes to walk through. The caverns have formations such as The Snowy Chandelier -- a 30-ton compound stalactite reportedly the largest in the nation -- and The Bridal Veil, a column of sparkling white calcite.
6. Cranberry Glades, Pocahontas County, WV
The bogs of the Cranberry Glades are very similar to the Arctic Tundra of 10,000 years ago. The Cranberry Glades is the largest area of bogs, or acidic wetlands, in West Virginia, a unique and exotic ecosystem on 750 acres. This spectacular and beautiful area was established by the United States Forest Service in 1965, to protect and preserve over 60 unique plant species, many of them descended from seeds that took root here over 10,000 years ago.
7. Ice Mountain, Hampshire County
This mountain in Hampshire County is nicknamed "Nature's Ice Box" and "Nature's Refrigerator" because of ice vents that release cold air year round. In colder months, cold air sinks into a sloping mass of boulders at the foot of the mountain. As the months get warmer, the air flows out of the vents.
8. Teays Valley, Putnam County, WV
With a quick glance at Teays Valley in Putnam County, you'd never think that it is a natural wonder. But the history behind the valley makes it one. This riverless valley is one of the most curious in the eastern United States. The valley is a remnant of the Teays River, an ancient river that was one of the oldest in the world. Comparable in size to the Ohio River, scientists say that ice dammed the river and made it a lake 2 million years ago during an ice age. Once the ice melted, the river had changed its course.
9. Birthplace of Rivers, Pocohontas County, WV
This place in Pocahontas County is the headwaters for eight rivers: Cherry River, Cranberry River, Elk River, Gauley River, Greenbrier River, Tygart Valley River, Williams River, and Shavers Fork of the Cheat River.
10. Sandstone Falls, New River Gorge National River
Also known as the Great Falls of the New River. Sandstone Falls is one of the most visited natural wonders in the state.
11. Berkeley Springs, WV
West Virginia has its own naturally warm springs in the appropriately named town of Berkeley Springs. Close to 2,000 gallons of water flows out of 5 springs every minute. The water is constantly 74.3 degrees, though scientists are not exactly sure why. An outdoor bathtub there is named for George Washington because he bathed there and wrote about it in his journal.
12. Summersville Lake, Summersville, WV
Superb water quality and sheer sandstone cliffs make Summersville Lake a unique place to visit. Summersville Lake is a reservoir located in the US state of West Virginia. The lake is formed by a rock-fill dam (Summersville Dam) on the Gauley River, south of Summersville in Nicholas County. It is the largest lake in West Virginia, with 2,700 acres (1,100 ha) of water and over 60 miles (97 km) of shoreline at the summer pool water level. Its maximum depth is 327 feet.
If you’re looking for interesting attractions unlike any other, look no further than West Virginia. What are some of the other WV natural attractions you would have included on this list?