At least two of West Virginia's rivers can match up well with almost any rivier in the US for quality white water rafting. The Gauley during September and October, and the New River. Ours was a spring run on the New River. There are several river guide companies. We chose Rivermen because they can provide overnight lodging and gave the best price.
Durning spring runs on the New River you have higher, faster water, with more excitment than fall runs. On the Gauley the high water is in the fall when they open the floodgates on the dam. Be perpared to get wet! The water can be cold so you might consider renting a wet suit.
Each raft is accompnied by a guide in a kayak to insure anyone that falls overboard gets rescued. This kayaker also takes pictures of your trip that can be purchased.
The West Virginia State Capitol Building is the seat of the state legislature, the office of the governor, and other state government offices. The current building is actually the third structure on the site that has served as the state capitol. The first was built in 1885, but burned in 1921, and the second building burned in 1927. The current building was completed in 1932.
The state capitol building was designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert, who also designed such buildings as the Flatiron Building in New York City, and the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. (Gilbert liked the design of the interior chamber so much that he used the same design for that of the United States Supreme Court Building). Designed in a combination of Colonial Revival and Italian Renaissance styles of architecture, the exterior of the building is constructed of buff Indiana limestone and two-thirds of the interior features various types of marble.
The capitol building contains 535,000 square feet (49,703 square meters) of interior space and has 33 rooms. The dome is 292 feet (89 meters) tall, making it the tallest structure in West Virginia. It is also five feet (two meters) taller than the dome of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. The dome is covered with gilded 14-karat gold leaf laid over a base of copper and lead.
At the West Virginia State Wildlife Center visitors may see on exhibit many of the animals (mammals, birds, and reptiles) which are native to the Mountain State. Allow yourself an hour to walk the 1 1/4 mile loop trail that encircles the park. You will want to take time to stop along the way as you view black bear, mountain lion, bald eagle, whitetail deer, river otter and numerous other species which have made West Virginia their home.
Picnic areas are available at the Wildlife Center. There is also a gift shop and snack bar.
Adults (16 and over) $3.00
Children (ages 3-16) $1.50
Children (under 3) Free
Annual passes and group rates are available.
April: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
May - August: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
September - October: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
November - march: 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Open 7 days per week, weather permiting
Closed on major holidays
Located in eastern Tucker County, the Canaan Valley is one of the most popular areas in West Virginia for outdoor sports and activities. The valley and its surrounding mountain peaks offer hiking, camping, cycling, golfing, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing. The valley contains two state parks (Canaan Valley Resort State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park) and three ski areas (Canaan Valley Ski Resort, Timberline Four Seasons Resort, and White Grass Touring Area which offers cross-country ski trails). Visitors can choose between the valley's many restaurants, motels, cabins, condominiums, and resorts that cater to many budgets and tastes.
The stories of how the Canaan Valley came to be named vary. One legend is that a settler, George Casey Harness, was tracking a bear when he came to a point where he could look out over the valley. He is supposed to have said, "Behold, the Land of Canaan!" Another popular story holds that a German settler, Henry Fansler, who was migrating from the Shenandoah Valley, saw the valley from Cabin Mountain and said the same thing Harness said, but in German. The first white men to see the valley were probably surveyors on the famous Fairfax Line survey who crossed Canaan Mountain and entered the valley in 1746 under difficult conditions.
The Canaan Valley is an upland valley in the higher mountains of the Allegheny Mountain range. It is about 13 miles (21 kilometers) long and is up to five miles (eight kilometers) wide. The valley is surrounded by mountain peaks, most notably Canaan Mountain to the west and Cabin Mountain to the east. The average elevation of the valley floor is about 3,200 feet (975 meters), making the Canaan Valley the largest high-elevation valley east of the Rocky Mountains.
Because of the high elevation and the configuration of the surrounding mountains, weather fronts are frequently channeled through the valley, making it significantly wetter and cooler than the surrounding areas. The valley's microclimate is therefore different from those of the surrounding areas, and is similar to areas much farther north, such as northern New England and Canada. Much of the valley floor contains extensive boreal wetlands and the headwaters of the Blackwater River. About 70 percent of the land in the Canaan Valley is protected by the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, the 500th National Wildlife Refuge to be established in the nation.
Seneca Rocks is a steep, exposed crag of rock (or knob) that rises about 900 feet (274 meters) above the confluence of Seneca Creek and the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River in West Virginia's eastern panhandle. It is made up of two sections, North Peak and South Peak, that are separated by Gunsight Notch. Seneca Rocks is at the north end of River Knobs, an 18-mile-long (29-kilometer-long) ridge and series of knobs and cliffs on the west side of North Fork Mountain that stretches from Cherry Grove to Seneca Rocks. In addition to Seneca Rocks, River Knobs contains smaller, less impressive knobs which include Judy Rocks and Nelson Rocks. There are also many caves in the area, some of which are open to the public.
Seneca Rocks is composed of white and gray Tuscarora quartzite that underlies the region and breaks the surface as knobs. The quartzite, which is about 250 feet (76 meters) thick, is made up of grains of sand that were laid down about 440,000,000 years ago during the Silurian Period on the edge of an ancient sea. Over eons of time, the sand was compressed into rock, and lifted and folded by geologic forces as the sea eventually disappeared.
Seneca Rocks was named after the Seneca Trail, also called the Great Indian Warpath, that followed the banks of the Potomac River, and was used by the Seneca, Algonguin, and Tuscarora American Indian tribes to pass through the area for either trade or war.
Because of the steepness and height of the cliffs, as well as the degree of climbing difficulty, Seneca Rocks is the premier rock-climbing location in the eastern United States, with over 375 mapped climbing routes. It is believed the rock was first climbed in 1906. Since 1971, 16 people have been killed while attempting to scale the cliffs.
The main attraction of 1,145-acre (463-hectare) Valley Falls State Park is the series of spectacular waterfalls that cascade over Connoquenessing sandstone ledges and stone blocks to create foaming whitewater and clear, deep pools. The Tygart River, which separates Marion County to the north and Taylor County to the south, cuts through the steep-sided valley and forms waterfalls and rapids for almost one mile (1.6 kilometers) through the park.
In addition to enjoying the waterfalls, visitors can engage in other outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, picnicking, kayaking, and fishing. There are seven hiking and mountain-biking trails in the park which total about 20 miles (32 kilometers). Because of the steepness and challenging nature of many of the trails, Mountain Biking Magazine rates Valley Falls State Park as one of the top five mountain biking sites in the United States.
The area that is now Valley Falls State Park was a thriving community in the 1800s. The settlement of around 100 buildings contained a B&O Railroad depot station, a grist mill, sawmills, a post office, shops, and a ferry. However, the town was devastated first by a fire in 1886 and then by a flood in 1888. Although the residents tried to rebuild, the town never fully recovered and was eventually abandoned. Nowadays, all that remains of the town is some stone foundations in the vicinity of the waterfalls.
Hawks Nest State Park is a small West Virginia State Park located about an hour east of Charleston. The park features an overlook with a beautiful view of the of the New River valley. It also has a small lodge (31 rooms) with a restaurant that also overlooks the valley. If you want to go down and see the river, there is a gondola that descends down into the valley, where you can then ride a boat up the river to the famous New River Gorge Bridge. If you want to take the boat ride, you need to buy tickets early in the day due to its popularity. Unfortunately, tickets sold out by 11AM on the day that we were there, so we missed out on the boat.
Off the beaten path in West Virginia, on the eastern side of the state, are a fabulous limestone rock formation known as Seneca Rocks.
You can hike the mountain, or for the more adventurous, climb them.
While in the neighborhood, make the drive up the mountain to Spruce Knob, the highest elevation in West Virginia......be sure to gas up, and be prepared for about 12 - 14 miles of gravel road - the view is worth the drive.
Not only is the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Armory & Arsenal located here, also this is a wonderful small town in the County of Jefferson.
It borders the State of Maryland, is surrounded by the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and is the only place in the state of West Virginia where the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah River are together.
Did you know that the song by John Denver, "Take me home country roads" is actually about Harpers Ferry?
Most people arrive to see the National Park, but the town is charming, offers shopping, dining, the vibe of a small commuinity as well as wonderful hiking, canoing and other outdoor activities.
Walk around Harper's Ferry and see the views from different levels. This is a charming country town.
Fort Mulligan Civil War Site is a reminder that West Virginia saw much action during the War Between the States.
All that's left of what was once a very large "bombproof" fort is an impressive series of eatheworks. The Fort, as it exists today, was constructed from August through December 1863 by troops under the command of Colonel James A. Mulligan. He was from the Chicago, Illinois. Infantry, cavalry and artillery from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Illinois carried out the labor.
Easy walking trails lead the visitor around the ruins of Fort Mulligan and most of the site is accessible to wheelchairs. However, there are several areas that are inaccessible because of the steep terrain. Interpretative displays tell the story of both Union and Confederate troops who occupied this spot at various times, from 1861 - 1865.
The commanding views from the site of Fort Mulligan are reward enough for making a visit. The history of the things that happened here, and how they fit into the greater picture of the War Between the States, give cause for sober reflection.
The site of the United States Arsenal made famous by John Brown's raid, a critical event preceding the Civil War.
However, the HF Armory and Arsenal was important on it's own. Not only was this a place where arms and military equipment belonging to the United States were stored, they were also produced here.
During the Civil War Harpers Ferry changed hands from North to South and back again many times. Of course, eventually it reverted back to Union possession and is now part of the US National Historic Park system for all of us to tour and enjoy.
As the only hands-on art center in the Ohio Valley region, the Stifel Fine Arts Center is an important resource for teachers and students of art.
The art center provides a year-round schedule of programs that cover a broad range of artistic activities, such as arts, crafts, and dance.
Art students, or those just interested in learning about art, can participate in classes, workshops, and other events hosted by the Stifel Fine Arts Center.
A recent addition to the Stifel Fine Arts Center's activities is the "Arts and Spirits" wine tasting evenings held in conjunction with art exhibitions. Participants can learn the fine points of wine from guest experts.
There are numerous rivers and streams flowing down out of the Allegheny Mountains, so the roads tend to twist along the resulting contours. You never know what you will see around the next bend. After we left Charleston, we headed east and north along the Gauley River - passing through Glen Ferris in this photo.
It is rafting! If you haven't yet done anything like this before - just go for it. Forget and leave home all your deseases and boredom, the rafting will surely eclipse all this. It will charge you with energy enough for months forward. Even if you have never tried rafting, don't be afraid - there are experienced instructors and it isn't so difficult. It is a realm of adrenaline!
While you are in the area, you should check out the New River Bridge on SR 19 north of Beckley.
The bridge is the world's longest single arch span bridge in the world and the second highest bridge in the United States.
There is a visitor center on the north side of the bridge and a scenic overlook. Its worth stopping for an hour and taking some great photos.
US 340 & Union St., Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, 25425, United States
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
This was a gem of a motel but it was a bit tough to locate. The motel was off the I-79 exit but...more
80 Old Nicholette Road, I-77, Exit 170, Mineral Wells, West Virginia, 26150, United States
Good for: Couples