John Denver wasn’t exaggerating when he crooned that West Virginia is almost heaven, but the state largely remains a hidden gem for vacation-goers. West Virginia has an abundance of unspoiled natural beauty and recreational activities that make it an ideal (and affordable) day or weekend trip for families, couples, and solo travelers alike. Home to the friendliest people you’ll meet on earth, ancient mountains offering no shortage of breathtaking views, and gorgeous country roads that make you appreciate the real beauty of a road trip, West Virginia is a place you’ll carry in your heart long after you’ve left. Here are some wild and wonderful ways to experience the glory of the Mountain State!
Harpers Ferry is the easternmost town in West Virginia, located at the union of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. Thomas Jefferson called the site “one of the most stupendous sites in nature,” and it’s not difficult to see why. The Jefferson County town is a history buff’s haven, containing the Harper’s Ferry National Park and B & O Railroad Potomac River Crossing, With costumed characters, museums, preservations and original buildings set against a beautiful hilly terrain, this quaint, idyllic town is a must-see.
New River Gorge National River
The New River Gorge boasts over 100 miles of hiking trails, ranging in ruggedness from relaxed to strenuous. The New is among the oldest rivers on the continent, and is the longest and deepest river gorge in the Appalachian Mountains. Home to some of the best whitewater rafting in the country and 1,400 established rock climbs, there are also opportunities for camping, fishing, hunting, canoeing, and biking. Every October, thousands of spectators attend Bridge Day to walk across the world’s second longest single arch bridge and watch hundreds brave base jumpers.
Who needs Colorado? Berkeley Springs is a historic spa town located on the Eastern Panhandle that draws visitors for its unique natural mineral water springs. You can revel in the luxury of a steaming mineral bath at the 200-year-old Roman Bath House—750 gallons of hot bath water—or choose among the other spa options. The historic downtown area is filled with galleries and antique shops, and has been named in all four editions of John Villani’s 100 Best Art Towns in America. There’s no shortage of affordable lodging either, with over 100 options, from adorable B & B’s to rustic cabins.