With a number of the east coast’s most beautiful and rugged scenery, West Virginia is crammed with year-round outdoor adventure opportunities. Its wild mountain country, densely forested wilderness areas, and fast-running rivers are playgrounds for hiking, camping, caving, hiking, whitewater rafting, boating, and fishing. within the winter, ski resorts offer a variety of snow sports.
Active travelers will never run out of things to try to do here. While many tourists come to the state for these outdoor activities and scenic landscapes, West Virginia offers far more within the way of tourist attractions, from the historic sights of Harper Ferry and therefore the elegant Greenbrier and its legendary golf courses to some very unusual attractions, including a penitentiary to tour. You’ll find many vacation ideas with our list of the highest tourist attractions in West Virginia.
1. Harper Ferry
The Shenandoah River meets the Potomac at this small West Virginia town, which was the location of abolitionist John Brown’s raid on us arsenal in 1859, an occasion that hastened the onset of the war. Harper Ferry National Historical Park has museums, historical exhibits, and programs, plus about 20 miles of hiking trails. you’ll explore the rocks where the rivers meet and walk up to St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church and therefore the old cemetery on Capitol Hill behind it.
Also in Harper Ferry is that the Appalachian Trail Visitors Center, from which you’ll take a hike on the Appalachian Trail for views of the town and rivers. Local outfitters offer tubing excursions within the river.
2. New River Gorge National River
Contrary to its name, the New River is really one of the oldest rivers on the continent. because it flows into West Virginia, it cuts through the Appalachian Plateau, forming the New River Gorge and many of whitewater for tubing, rafting, and canoeing. Other recreational opportunities are all around it: hiking, zip-lining, hunting, fishing, bird-watching, camping, biking, and hiking.
One of the state’s most photographed sights is that the soaring New River Bridge, the longest steel span within the hemisphere and therefore the nation’s third-highest, 876 feet above the canyon floor. The Park Service maintains 70,000 acres of parklands along the river, and at Hawk’s Nest State Park, you’ll ride a tramway into rock bottom of the New River Gorge, a major spot for whitewater rafting.
South of the latest River Gorge National River at Bluestone State Park there’s hiking, fishing, camping, and boating on the massive lake behind the Bluestone Dam.
3. Blackwater Falls State Park
Named for the dark waters of the Blackwater River, colored by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and eastern spruce needles, Blackwater Falls drops 60 feet over sandstone ledges before the river continues to rush through an eight-mile-long gorge. Steps and viewing platforms make the falls accessible year-round.
Also, popular places to go to within the park are Haleakala Falls, which cascade the wall of the canyon and may be reached by a brief trail, and Middleton Falls, easily seen from a roadside pull-off. The view into the Blackwater Canyon from Lindy Point, one among the foremost beautiful places in West Virginia, is another park highlight, as is Middleton Point Overlook, at the canyon’s deepest point. The park features a boating lake, also as swimming, fishing, and camping.
4. Whitewater Rafting
It’s no secret that West Virginia is one of the simplest places to travel whitewater rafting. Several rivers offer world-class rapids for experts, et al.are well-suited to less experienced and learning rafters. the foremost famous waters are within the Galley River, between Cartersville and Fayetteville, within the Galley River National Recreation Area. Here, the 25-mile river flows at high speed through gorges and valleys, providing the joys of a lifetime to experienced rafters; it’s no wonder the category V rapids are nicknamed the “Beast of the East.”
Fall is that the time to seek out the foremost challenging flow, but at any time it’s an honest idea to rent an experienced guide who knows the river and its quirks and may assist you to find the places that are best suited to your own experience level. Although it’s known for its Class V rapids the Galley has some stretches of sophistication III that are suitable for intermediate levels.
For those with less experience, the Tarty River, Cheat River, and Potomac are good options, as is that the Upper New River, which has good stretches for beginners. Lower New River has Class IV rapids that provide runs past the New River Gorge Bridge.
5. Seneca Rocks and Monongahela National Forest
With elevations starting from around 1,000 feet to 4,863 feet above water level, the Monongahela National Forest offers beautiful views, wildlife, and therefore the highest point within the state. the variability of terrain and rainfall across its quite 900,000 acres gives it one of the foremost diverse forest ecosystems within the country, supporting quite 225 bird species; 75 species of trees; and 70 fish species, both game, and non-game.
About 100,000 acres of the park are designated because of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, offering a number of the simplest traditional multi-pitch technical climbing on the East Coast. Seneca Rocks may be a distinctive 250-foot-deep formation of the white and grey quartet that stands almost 900 feet above the North Fork River. Some routes are moderate, but experts are challenged by the exposed summit pinnacle.
Non-climbers can enjoy the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center and campgrounds at Seneca Shadows and large Bend, alongside thousands of acres of untamed lands.
This year-round resort is best known for its skiing, with three separate areas to settle on from, all with one hundred pc snowmaking. With an 800-foot vertical drop, Snowshoe Basin’s 38 trails cover all experience levels, served by seven lifts, including a high-speed detachable quad. Of Silver Creek’s 18 trails, 12 are open for night skiing. The Western Territory Area’s steep, rugged terrain has 1,500 feet of vertical drop, the foremost advanced terrain within the region. Steeps on Cupp Run, designed by legendary Olympian Jean-Claude Killy, and Shay’s Revenge reach 52 percent pitch.
In other seasons, activities include mountain biking, scenic chairlift rides, geocaching, horseback riding, Segway tours, zip-lining, trampolining, climbing, pedal boats, paddle boarding, canoeing, hiking, fishing, and golf at the Raven Golf Club. shortly away, in Green bank, is that the National astronomy Observatory.
7. The Greenbrier
The Greenbrier has earned its designation as a National Historic Landmark several times over. Located at White Sulfur Springs, which are in use as a natural spa since the 1700s, the grand hotel has hosted 26 presidents, foreign dignitaries, and royalty, including Prince Rainier and Princess Grace of Monaco and therefore the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
But however grand and opulent it’s as a resort, it’s played other historic roles, too. Early in war II, it had been used as a prison for German and Japanese diplomats who were within us when war was declared. Later within the war, it had been commandeered by the U.S. Army to use as a hospital, where nearly 25,000 patients were treated.
During the conflict, an underground shelter was built to deal with the whole U.S. Congress just in case of a nuclear attack. This shelter, given the code name “Project Greek Island,” was decommissioned in 1992 and is hospitable to the general public for tours, as is that the Presidents’ Cottage Museum, with exhibits about presidential visits and therefore the history of the resort.
More than 50 different activities are available within the resort and within the 5,100-acre Greenbrier State Forest. alongside horseback riding, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, adventure courses, and a 40,000-square-foot spa, the resort has multiple golf courses (even an inside one for winter) and a distinguished golf history because the venue for varied championships.
Greenbrier State Forest offers cabins and campsites, swimming, fishing, bike trails, and hiking — the 78-mile-long Greenbrier River Trail may be a multi-purpose rail trail that’s also used for skiing within the winter. A getaway in one of the centuries-old Legacy Cottages is one among the foremost romantic things to try to do in West Virginia.
8. Seneca Caverns
The formation of Seneca Caverns began 460 million years ago when the cavern’s limestone bed first formed. The native Seneca people are thought to possess used the caves for shelter beginning within the early 1400s. The caverns were later found by an area farmer, Lavern Deter while trying to find water for his livestock, and therefore the largest chamber, rising to 60 feet in places, is known as Teter Hall in his memory.
You can visit these on one-hour guided tours that descend to 165 feet below the doorway. Pathways are well-lit, and cement steps with handrails help visitors navigate deeper into the caverns. The separate Stratosphere Cave is on an equivalent property.
9. West Virginia Penitentiary
One of the foremost unlikely places to go to in any state, the West Virginia Penitentiary welcomes guests from April through November to tour the grim prison that sometimes held quite 1,000 prisoners at a time. The forbidding Gothic fortress opened in 1876, and therefore the last prisoner left in 1995. Between those dates, it had been the scene of fires, escapes, prison riots, and almost 100 executions.
Visitors can tour the building and its claustrophobia-inducing five-foot by seven-foot cells during the day, or explore the reportedly haunted location in the dark. The penitentiary may be a popular place for paranormal researchers trying to find evidence of spectral phenomena.
10. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
As unconventional a tourist attraction because the West Virginia Penitentiary, the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum may be a landmark within the history of treatment for the unsound. Constructed between 1858 and 1881, the asylum is that the largest hand-cut stone masonry building within the hemisphere, and within the world, it’s exceeded only by the Kremlin in Moscow. it had been designed by the architect Richard Andrews, who arranged the long rambling wings during a staggered formation, in order that each of the connecting structures received the maximum amount of therapeutic sunlight and fresh air possible.
Tours highlight a variety of historical themes, including architecture, war raids, treatment of the unsound, even the facility’s agricultural history and place within the area people. just like the West Virginia Penitentiary, the asylum has also been a search location for paranormal investigators.
11. West Virginia State Museum at the Culture Center
Among the free things to try to do in West Virginia is touring the West Virginia State Museum in Charleston to find out about the state’s culture, history, art, paleontology, archaeology, and geology. one among the foremost popular of its 60,000 artifacts maybe a pair of dressed fleas from a 19th-century flea circus. Well-designed exhibits of a more serious nature literally follow a path through the state’s history, beginning with stone and dirt and ending during a paved highway. As visitors progress from room to room through the centuries, audio features augment exhibits and films.
Artifacts include everyday implements and items like a telescope that Washington wont to survey land in West Virginia. In one section, you’ll learn more about John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, et al. is an ingenious settler’s cabin reconstructed within the museum.
12. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
At the Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, you’ll relive the Golden Age of Steam on a line inbuilt 1901 to haul lumber from the forest to the mill, riding in refurbished logging flat-cars pulled by an ingenious Shay locomotive. the complete 4.5-hour trip includes switchbacks that allow the train to climb grades as high as 11 percent to succeed in Bald Knob. At an altitude of 4,700 feet, this is often West Virginia’s third-highest point, overlooking spectacular views.
At Whittaker Station, a 1940s logging camp has been recreated, with the quarters and therefore the equipment. At the bottom , you’ll tour a museum and therefore the depot and see restored company houses which will be rented for overnight stays. On the train ride, be prepared for noise, black smoke, and chilly temperatures at Bald Knob.
13. Adena Burial Mounds
One of the free things to try to do in West Virginia, and one among its secret places, is additionally one among the foremost intriguing, a glimpse into a culture that thrived here 2,000 years ago. Grave Creek Archaeological Complex centers on the most important known burial mounds of the Adena people, built about 250-150 BC. These mounds, as high as 69 feet and nearly 300 feet at the bottom, required moving quite 60,000 plenty of earth, creating the most important conical type structure of any of the mound-building cultures.
The Del Corona Museum on the location displays artifacts found within the multi-level cemetery, and its exhibits illuminate the lives of those prehistoric people and therefore the construction of the mounds.
14. West Virginia State Capitol
Five feet above the dome of the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., the 293-foot golden dome at the State Capitol in Charleston reflects Greek and Roman architectural influences. it had been designed by Gilbert, who also designed the Woolworth Building in NY City, the world’s tallest building when it had been constructed. During the building process, from 1924 to 1932, quite 700 train carloads of Indiana limestone were used. White marble from Vermont and Italian trainer sheath much of its interior, which you’ll tour daily.