Every year on June 20th, the Mountain State celebrates a very special day – its birthday! This year West Virginia is turning 156 years old. How much do you know about the east coast’s best-kept secret?

West Virginia is home to…

  • Nearly 50 state parks and forests. Outdoor adventure of all kinds can be found all over the state, from hiking trails and climbing rocks.
  • Longest single-span steel-arch bridge in the Americas. Just outside Fayetteville, the New River Gorge Bridge stands at almost 900 feet high and nearly ¾ of a mile long.
  • Underground 400-million-year-old ocean. Ultimately shifted by geological forces and driven underground, the Iapetus Ocean lies underneath the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains.
  • World’s first public spa. Opened in Berkeley Springs in 1756 and became one of George Washington’s favorite spots. You can still take a dip in the same healing mineral waters today!

And so much more!

Scenery Seneca Rocks: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

Heavenly vistas and mountain views

Take a trip back to an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. Catch a ride on Cass Scenic Railroad State Park’s 4.5-hour train ride to the overlook at Bald Knob, the third highest point in West Virginia. From there, you’ll have plenty of breathtaking views and amazing photos.

Located 13 miles outside of Morgantown, Coopers Rock is one of the West Virginia’s most popular travel destinations. The forest’s trails lead you out to several overlooks that offer beautiful views of the Cheat River Canyon. Go at sunset and watch the sun dip below the mountains and paint the sky deep purple, pink and blue. You’ll never want to leave.

New River Bridge at sunset

The New River Gorge Bridge just outside Fayetteville is almost 900 feet high, and nearly 3⁄4 of a mile long– making it the longest single-span steel-arch bridge in the Americas. You can walk under this iconic bridge year-round with Bridge Walk. These guided trips safely secure you to tethers and harnesses, so you can stroll across the catwalk underneath the bridge.

Check out the Thorny Mountain Fire Tower at Seneca State Forest. The 65-foot tower provides 360-degree views of lush forestland. Pictures of the lofty tower as well as the views from its balcony will surely spark comments of curiosity and delight.

Walk just about 1⁄3 of a mile across level terrain on Lindy Point overlook trail in Blackwater Falls State Park for a massive payoff— the view of Blackwater Canyon below you. Whether you’re hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter, surrounded by rock formations and looking over a canyon that seems endless, the overlook at Lindy Point creates an experience that’s filled with the magical, nature-filled solitude that West Virginia is known for.

Spruce Knob: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

Spruce Knob in Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area is the highest point in the Mountain State, standing at 4,863 feet above sea level. One thing that’s great about the view from Spruce Knob is how accessible it is. Hike 14 miles from the base to the summit for a longer hike, or just drive to the top. Head up to the parking lot, and it’s just a quick 0.25-mile jaunt to the observation point.

At the tip of the Eastern Panhandle where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, you can capture the famous panoramic view of Harpers Ferry from Maryland Heights, the highest mountain overlooking the historic town.

Canaan Valley: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

Canaan Valley Resort State Park’s Hickory Dining Room offers daily breakfast, lunch and dinner options along with traditional holiday buffets. The dining room’s glass walls present a panoramic view of the valley 3,200 feet above sea level in the Potomac Highlands. Surrounding mountains, including the scenic Bald Knob overlook, extend upward an additional 1,000 feet.

Snowshoe Mountain: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

When you’re at Snowshoe Mountain everywhere you look is an incredible view whether covered in snow or lush greenery. Snowshoe covers 11,000 acres in the Appalachian Mountain Range and includes the second highest point in the state at 4,848’ elevation so you know you’re about to be treated to some stunning views. From charming views of the Village at Snowshoe to incredible views while your skiing or snowboarding down the mountain there’s never a dull moment at this mountain resort. In the summer, visit Shavers Lake, Snowshoe’s best-kept secret or hit the trails via horseback over 11,000 acres of unspoiled, gorgeous Appalachian wilderness.

Gauley: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

West Virginia adventures

When they named the Gauley the “Beast of the East,” they weren’t kidding. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you think you’re ready, there is no better whitewater adventure in the world during Gauley Season. In just 24 miles, you’ll pound through more than 100 rapids in an all-day Gauley Marathon. The Gauley season runs from mid-September to mid-October. In 2018, Governor Jim Justice made Gauley Season an official fifth season in West Virginia.

Gauley: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

For a truly wild, wonderful adventure, venture to NROCKS Outdoor Adventures just down the road from Seneca Rocks in Circleville. While you’re there, climb the Via Ferrata, a unique form of rock climbing perfect if you want something different and exciting— and you don’t need any climbing experience.

Nelson Rocks Via Ferrata: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

“Via Ferrata” is Italian for “by way of iron,”’ and the Via Ferrata at NROCKS is a mile-long guided climb with fixed anchors along double-fin rocks in the Appalachian Mountains. Once you start, you are always clipped into a safety system. Just be ready for a short hike before taking on the first of several rock faces.

Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

A fisherman’s dream, West Virginia is home to arguably the best public lands for fishing. From fly fishing to our famous trout, there’s plenty to reel in from our 20,000+ miles of streams and 100+ fishing lakes. Whether you’re an expert angler or on a family fly fishing trip, Almost Heaven has something for everyone.

Snowshoe Mountain: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office
Snowshoe Mountain: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

Downhill skiing is one of the most popular winter sports in West Virginia. The Mountain State is packed with some of the best ski resorts in the mid-Atlantic. Snowshoe Mountain Resort is a snowsports mecca, with a summit of 4,848 feet and an average of a whopping 180 inches of snowfall per year! A good place for beginners is Oglebay Resort or night ski at Winterplace.

Spartan Race: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

Join adventure seekers from across the country – and around the world as the Spartan Race returns to West Virginia this year! Held at world-renowned Summit Bechtel Reserve, it’s an event for adventure seekers, friendly competitors, and even kids! Plan your trip to West Virginia and experience our state’s scenic Capital City of Charleston and famous whitewater country found in the southern mountains of West Virginia.

Gravity Zip Lines in Lansing: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

Zip down the gorge. You’ve probably seen it on a reality show before: people strapping themselves into a harness and zooming across landscapes. Try it yourself at Gravity Zip Lines in Lansing. Guided by the pros, soar across 1.5 miles of Mountain State beauty at 200 feet above the ground.

If you’re nervous, don’t be. They start small with 500-foot warm up runs, so get your bearings straight before you tackle the longer tracks and increase speed to around 60 miles per hour. The cherry on top is AdrenaLine, the longest zipline on the East Coast.

Organ Cave: Photo Courtesy of West Virginia Tourism Office

This complex of limestone passages in Organ Cave is huge– more than 45 miles of mapped passages, with an additional 200 “leads” of passages that haven’t been mapped or surveyed yet. It’s the second most extensive commercially tourable cave in the East.

You can hike on the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia via the footbridge that crosses the Potomac River at Harpers Ferry. While only 4 miles of the Appalachian Trail lie in West Virginia proper, you’ll experience a wide variety of terrain that will prepare you to thru-hike Georgia to Maine.