West Virginia is one of the most beautiful and underrated regions in the US. The Eastern state is mostly known for its timber and coal mining industries but in more recent years has since transformed into an outdoor lover’s paradise. The scenery and landscapes here are nothing short of jaw-dropping with sprawling lakes, stunning mountains (West Virginia is often known as the Moutain State), white-water rivers, and gorgeous winter ski resorts. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in West Virginia…
1. West Virginia State Capitol, Charleston – a beautiful building to explore in West Virginia
An inspiring State Capitol building, the West Virginia State Capitol is one of the most impressive buildings in Charleston. The classical-style legislature building overlooks the scenic Kanawha River and its swirling waters.
The magnificent building with impressive flooring, delicately engraved flowers, Austrian crystal chandeliers and marble walls is one-of-a-kind. Built-in the 1930s by renowned architect Cass Gilbert, the state capitol is a part of the West Virginia Capitol Complex and the Governor’s Mansion.
Standing atop the building is the highest state capitol dome in the United States. Watch the Senate in session or catch a glimpse of the shimmering dome at night, this historic building is truly a sight to behold.
2. Monongahela National Forest – a beautiful place to explore with gorgeous vistas, country roads and flowing streams
A vast paradise of beautiful forest, rugged landscape and free-flowing rivers, the Monongahela National Forest is located in the Allegheny Mountains of East Virginia. Engulfing more than half of the Pocahontas County, the Monongahela encompasses some of the most ecologically diverse areas in the US. With five federally designated wilderness areas, river systems, the Mon provides a wide range of recreational opportunities.
Hike the majestic Falls of Hills Creek, rock climb the quartzite-capped Seneca Rocks, camp beside the beautiful settings of Williams River, or simply drive through the Highland Scenic Highway, the Monongahela is an ideal place to explore the beauty of nature.
3. New River Gorge Bridge – the longest arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere
Ranked amongst the finest mega-bridges of the world, the New River Gorge Bridge is located near the city of Fayetteville in the Appalachian Mountains. Built-in 1977, the bridge connects the hills on either side of West Virginia’s New River Gorge.
A marvel of engineering, the 3,030 feet long bridge with an arch of 1,700 feet is one of the longest steel span bridge in the western hemisphere. Easily the most photographed places of West Virginia, the bridge is a sheer work of structural art.
4. Babcock State Park – one of the most stunning places to visit in West Virginia
Adjacent to the bubbling New River Gorge National River with rugged cliff tops and a serene atmosphere is the beautiful Babcock State Park. Located in the Fayette County of West Virginia, the Babcock state park covers 4,127 acres of pristine beauty to connect with nature.
The heart of the park is the legendary Glade Creek Grist Mill which is a replica of the original Cooper’s Mill. A living monument of the numerous mills which once thrived in West Virginia, the Glade Creek provides freshly ground cornmeal. Seep in the breathtaking views of the cliffs and waterfall or stroll along the Boley and Glade Creek Lake, this iconic state park is a perfect tranquil retreat.
5. Daniel Boone Park – a gorgeous park with beautiful natural scenery
West Virginia’s riverfront capital, the Daniel Boone Park is nestled along the bubbling Kanawha River near the capital city of Charleston. The Park commemorates the early Charleston resident and assemblyman who was a pioneer frontiersman of the United States. A scenic park tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Charleston city, the Daniel Boone Park offers a quaint and relaxed environment along the banks of the lovely River.
Enjoy a day out picnicking, boating or feeding the wildlife, the park is an excellent place to sit back and delight in the calm scenery.
6. Bear Rocks Preserve – one of West Virginia’s most loved beauty spots
An iconic treasure of the Mountain State, the Bear Rocks Preserve is a 477-acre subalpine landscape covered in heath barrens, massive boulders, and windswept shrubs. Owned by the Nature Conservancy, the Bear Rocks form the northern border of the very popular Dolly Sods Wilderness of the Monongahela National Forest.
Over the years winds and rains have sculpted the quartz and sandstone rocks into quirky formations. At 4,000 feet elevation, the high rock and scoured ridgelines make for an excellent hike to witness & capture the breathtaking beauty of this massive landscape.
7. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park – a very popular place to visit with the family
At the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers is the charming historic town, Harper’s Ferry. In and around this quaint town is the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Located within 50 miles of Washington DC, the park is a stepping stone to the era of American history.
Stroll the picturesque streets or visit the historic buildings and museums, this region will give you an insight into early American life & the Civil War. Hike to the site of the Civil War battle and the famous Ohio Canal Trail or explore the restored historic district, you’ll love Harper’s Ferry for its endless recreation and nature.
8. New River Gorge National Park – a slice of a scenic paradise and one of the best places to visit in West Virginia
Easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in West Virginia the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is protected by the United States National Park Service.
The sparkling water of the New River is known for the calming presence amongst the West Virginian woods. One of the oldest rivers of the continent, the New River Gorge National River conserves approx. 70,000-acres of land between the towns of Hinton and Fayetteville. Established in 1978, the New River is one of the oldest rivers on the continent.
The country’s best whitewater rafting and rock climbing destination, New River continues to shape the geological features of the longest and deepest gorge in the Appalachians. Whether you seek solace or adventure, an experience in the New River will leave you renewed and forever changed!
9. Appalachian National Scenic Trail – the most loved recreational footpath in the US
One of the most popular trails of the US, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail traverses 14 states through majestic mountains, forests, meadows and culturally important lands along the East Coast. While the stretch of the Appalachian Trail in West Virginia is brief but lives fully to the state’s motto.
The extensive 2,200-mile trail of the AT weaves through the mountain ridges and raging rivers along the border. While the trail around the Harper’s Ferry is bustling, southern West Virginia’s trail cuts through the majestic mountains and ridges of the Jefferson National Forest and the Peters Mountain wilderness.
10. Spruce Knob – West Virginia’s highest point in the Allegheny Mountains
Amidst the wonderful wilds and enchanting mountains of the mountain, the state is the beautiful and unchanging Spruce Mountain and its summit, Spruce Knob. An alpine mountain covered with spruce trees, grassy openings, and forested ridges gives you the feel of the north without having to travel that far.
At 4,863 feet on the Allegany Mountains, the Spruce knob is a part of the Monongahela National Forest. Blanketing the East Coast, the dense spruce forest of the Spruce Mountain offers excellent hiking and backpacking opportunities. Catch the awe-inspiring scenery from the lookout tower or hike through the graveled trails, Spruce Knob is a true wonder of West Virginia.
11. Coopers Rock State Forest – a hidden wonder of the West Virginia state forests
Once a hideout of a fugitive cooper trader, the Coopers Rock State Forest is a slice of heaven miles from Morgantown. Established in 1936, the 12,747-acre park extends through Monongalia and Preston counties. A local’s favorite, the park features canyon overlooks, historic sites, sandstone cliffs, cross-country ski terrain and a perfect river for rafting.
With a chain of stunning rock cliffs along the Cheat River Gorge, the main overlook provides a striking panorama of the gorge and distant horizon. Hike along the enormous boulders and rhododendron blooms or enjoy the breathtaking overlooks, the Cooper Rock is a relaxing getaway with friends and family.
12. Summersville Lake – one of the most beautiful lakes in West Virginia
This gorgeous West Virginia beauty spot is a fantastic place to visit or take a vacation – you can camp or stay in cozy cabins located around the lake.
The stunning lake was formed by a rock-fill dam on the Gauley River and is now is the largest lake in West Virginia, with around 2,700 acres of superb quality water. A fantastic place to hike, swim or just relax and take in the wonderful and tranquil West Virginia scenery.
13. Cranberry Glades Botanical – an exotic ecosystem which is also home to ancient bogs
Offering a stark different climate from Central West Virginia, the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area preserves the largest area of bogs in the Mountain State. The predominant acidic wetlands of the north are found in the Hillsboro Town of Pocahontas County.
Part of the Monongahela National Forest, the bogs are full of cranberry plants, wild orchids, and carnivorous bug-eating pitcher plants. The 750-acre of the botanical area offers a boardwalk to explore the unique ecosystem and learn about this landscape of the southern mountains.
14. Trout Run Valley – a hiker’s heaven in the Great North Mountain Range
A tributary of the Cacapon River, the Trout Run Valley belongs to the Potomac River. Located in the Hardy County of West Virginia, the Trout Run Valley offers stunning vistas of the Little Sluice and Massanutten Mountains.
Part of the George Washington National Forest, the Trout Run Valley is a hiker’s paradise with numerous trails. Catch a stunning vista of the ascending mountains, beautiful ridges, and streams from different perspectives in the 27-mile hike of the Trout Run Valley.
15. Cheat Lake Trail – a soothing escape along the serene lake and beautiful West Virginia countryside
A scenic wooded 4.5-mile trail along the east banks of Cheat Lake is known for its scenic lake views and lavish forests. The trail located on the east of Morgantown off Morgan Run Rd offers a tranquil place to enjoy nature and its varied fauna and flora. The wide crushed stone path trail is easily accessible on foot and bike.
A beautiful place to come and relax, the Cheat Lake Trail also offers beaches for swimming, piers, and boat docks. Trail along the former rail corridor or view the charming nature at the trail’s southern end near Greystone, Cheat Lake offers the best spot for leaf-peeping during fall.
16. Snowshoe – West Virginia’s best winter destination
The largest winter East Coast ski destination in the Mid-Atlantic, Snowshoe village is located in Pocahontas County in West Virginia. Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, the village of Snowshoe lies atop the summit of the mountain.
Heaven for skiers and snowboarders, Snowshoe offers wide acres of expanded terrains and evenly trails for ski beginners and maverick. With extensive biking trails, snowmobiling, tubing, biking, and much more, the choices at Snowshoe are endless.
17. Blackwater Falls State Park – one of the most spectacular places to visit in West Virginia
If you are looking for a majestic place that has a serene vibe, look no further! One of the best places to visit for nature aficionados is the Blackwater Falls State Park. The 57-foot cascade is located in the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County which is about 2 miles from Davis. This majestic fall features stunning points such as Lindy and Pendleton, popular places for proposals and one of the most photographed spots.
Hikers in particular will definitely enjoy this park as it offers 20 miles of hiking trails and the longest sled run on the East Coast. This attraction is open all year round, so whenever you happen to be in West Virginia why not visit this amazing park?!
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Scott started his travelling life back in 1999, when he headed off on a solo jaunt to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia with just a backpack, a camera and a spirit for adventure. After that, the travel bug bit hard and now he is always seeking to head off somewhere new. Over the years he has lived in Italy, Qatar, Ireland, UK and the US but his spiritual home will always be Rome as this is the city which most satisfies his unrelenting craving for culture, good food and great football. Scott loves nothing better than to be behind the camera and also runs his own blog and Instagram page. He also counts Melbourne, Cape Town and Tel Aviv among his favourite places. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @scottbalaam