West Virginia is home to some of the most diverse landscapes in all of the United States — but few people realize it unless they live there. Did you know that the largest lake in West Virginia is spread out across more than 26,000 acres of land? Not only that, but Summersville Lake is also insanely beautiful! West Virginia is also popular for those looking to explore both above and below ground, with a number of stunning hikes with great views from high mountaintops — or deep within the earth’s crust.
National Parks always get the most credit, but there are hundreds of other locations recognized as “national” landmarks around the country. One such jewel is called the Dolly Sods Wilderness in Monongahela National Forest, which is itself located in the Allegheny Mountains. Those peaks might not gain as much attention as the nearby Appalachian Mountains, but some wildlife enthusiasts beg to differ. The region is home to many unique plant and animal species.
Those who are more interested in climbing than hiking can visit the Seneca Rocks. Not only are they beautiful, but they offer a strenuous challenge even for experienced rock climbers.
The New River Gorge is one of the state’s premier destinations. The view from up high is breathtaking, whether on a mountainside or along the bridge hovering over the river below. Sightseers love the great photo op, but you can find plenty of areas to hike as well. More into kayaking or rafting? This is a great place to go.
Beartown State Park was named because of its many caves, which early visitors believed would provide ample real estate for West Virginia’s healthy black bear population. A wooden walkway allows hikers to take in the scenery from an elevated position over the rocks.
You cannot leave West Virginia until you’ve photographed the immensely popular Blackwater Falls in the state park of the same name. You won’t need to go far to find the most popular sights, but there are plenty of opportunities to venture even farther.
Looking for spelunking opportunities? Find them inside the Lost World Caverns in Lewisburg. They’re none too shabby for those who enjoy exploring underground paths, but they’re also home to thousands of bats — which sometimes puts visitors off.
We always recommend visiting a state’s high point to check an item off the bucket list, and Spruce Knob in Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area is where you’ll find West Virginia’s. Not in the mood to hike a time-consuming (and excruciating) 14 miles to the summit? Don’t worry — you can just drive straight to the top and walk another quarter of a mile to find Spruce Knob’s observation point.