From snowbound mountaintops to vibrant cities and remote forest trails, West Virginia lives by its motto, Montani Semper Liberi – “Mountaineers are always free.” You’ll find temperate weather, gorgeous colors, and wide-open spaces to roam.
The state’s rivers are some of the prettiest and wildest in the United States. Choose from dozens of whitewater adventures – kayak the Coal River Walhonde Water Trail or raft the rapids of the Gauley River. The state’s smaller streams are perfect for tubing on hot days, and in cities large and small you’ll find shops renting tubes and offering shuttles. Prefer to go really far underwater? Try scuba diving on Summersville Lake followed by a relaxing sunset cruise.
The state’s forests are laced with trails of all kinds. The Hatfield-McCoy Trails comprise one of the nation’s largest ATV trail systems, while mountain bikers will find flowy sections of tacky dirt on the North Fork Mountain Trail. Casual hikers love the jaunt to Falls of Hills Creek, while many serious hikers take the entire summer off – or just a long weekend – to trek the famous Appalachian Trail or the Allegheny Trail. Want someone else to do most of the work for you? Plenty of horseback adventures are possible from Cacapon Resort State Park to Oglebay Resort – outfitters will pair you with a steed and all the gear you need for a day of fun.
West Virginia’s green mountains turn white in the winter, and some of the East’s highest-ranked and toughest ski areas start spinning their lifts after Thanksgiving. Snowshoe Mountain offers more than 1,500 vertical feet and 14 lifts to speed you back up the mountain, while Canaan Valley wins raves for its 43 trails. Those seeking something slower will find cross-country skiing at spots like Elk River Touring Center while White Grass is famous for its backcountry trails and telemarking culture.
When the snow melts and the countryside turns green, golfers head to West Virginia to enjoy some of the most beautiful and challenging links in the nation. Topping the list is the world-famous championship course at The Greenbrier, a luxury resort near White Sulfur Springs. Other breathtaking courses include the mountain-top Twisted Gun Golf Club, the difficult Woodhaven at Glade Springs, and the Arnold Palmer-designed Klieves at Oglebay Resort.
The state’s public forests and accessible rivers offer plenty of opportunities for hunters and anglers. The trout are thick on the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac, and the state breeds some of the nation’s best fish at the Petersburg Trout Hatchery. Guides ply several sections of the Potomac River while families love the quiet waters of Tomlinson Run State Park and beginners flock to the two-day fly-fishing program at Pipestem Resort State Park. Hunters chase whitetail deer and wild boar at spots like Mountain Meadow Hunting Preserve, Lewis Wetzel Wildlife Management Area, and private sites like Wilderness Ridge Farm.
West Virginia’s limestone ranges mean there are plenty of caves to explore. Smoke Hole Caverns has formations millions of years old and Lost World Caverns has fascinating calcite formations. Seneca Caverns has been luring visitors since 1742 and Organ Cave is a National Natural Landmark which has more than 100 leads that have not yet been mapped.
Country roads crisscross the state and offer hundreds of miles of two-wheeled and four-wheeled adventure. The 180-mile Midland Trail traverses the state on Route 60 past braided waterfalls and delicious restaurants. The 20-mile section of Route 32 through Canaan Valley features mountain top views and dense forests. See Monongahela National Forest in style along the 43-mile Highland Scenic Highway, which reaches elevations of more than 4,500 feet above sea level. Get a glimpse into coal mining history on the National Coal Heritage Trail, which passes heritage sites, reconstructed mines, railway lines, and an underground mine tour.
West Virginia’s mountain music heritage is totally unique. You can find live music in city settings like the V Club in Huntington as well as small-town spots like the Purple Fiddle in Thomas. The Appalachian Stringband Festival is a five-day event in Clifftop while old-time bluegrass is honored at the Pocahontas County Opera House and the West Virginia State Folk Festival has been held each June since the 1950s. Want to learn or play along? Bring your fiddle to the open jam at Big Timber Brewing Company in Elkins or sign up for one of the week-long bluegrass classes at the Augusta Heritage Center.
The Mountain State celebrates its art everywhere you look. The Juliet Art Museum has more than 9,000 square feet of gallery space while the Huntington Museum of Art has an outstanding glass collection and a selection of antique firearms. The Parkersburg Art Center has six galleries and the Art Museum of WVU showcases paintings, prints, sculpture, and ceramics. Artists of Merrywood in Berkeley Springs has an outdoor sculpture garden and Harmony Ridge Gallery in Lewisburg displays American art works. Enjoy classic films and plays at the Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg or show up for a symposium at Carnegie Hall in the historic district of Lewisburg. Top music acts journey to the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center and the Capitol Theatre in Wheeling is home to the city’s symphony orchestra.
Explore the state’s history with the interactive exhibits at the West Virginia State Museum and Culture Center or wander through replica cabins at the Heritage Farm Museum and Village in Huntington. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park gives a glimpse into life in the 1800s.
Ready to end your trip on a relaxing note? Indulge in a massage at the Greenbrier Resort or sign up for a spa treatment at the Resort at Glade Springs. Enjoy a soak at Capon Springs and Farms or a salt halotherapy treatment at The Salt Cave. Berkeley Springs State Pak has nine 750-fallon private tubs filled with hot mineral water.