(Last updated on: 05/11/2022)
The best national parks in West Virginia. West Virginia is the famous ‘Mountain State’ for a reason, the only state in America to be located completely within the Appalachian Mountain region, completely immersed in nature. West Virginia holds some of the most unique and beautiful national parks in America, so keep reading to find the best national parks in West Virginia.
What is a national park?
Before I begin, what exactly is a national park? A national park is an area protected due to its cultural heritage, diverse wildlife and unique and beautiful landscapes. National parks aim to protect and preserve these sites to prevent from environmental damage, whilst also allowing these parks to be enjoyed and explored by the public. Local economies benefit heavily from national parks as they act as a big tourist attraction, meaning there are not only environmental benefits, but also economic benefits.
The ‘National park service‘ manages 423 national parks across America, in aims of conserving the ‘natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of current and future generations’.
Why visit the national parks in West Virginia?
The national parks in West Virginia boast a vibrant natural scenery, containing some of the most well-known American trails and rivers, from The Appalachian trail to Chesapeake Bay. When in West Virginia, expect to uncover history from the Civil war ignition at Harpers ferry, to the 100 years operation of the C&O canal.
How many national parks in West Virginia are there?
So how many national parks are there in West Virginia? There are a total of 6 national parks in West Virginia, all exploiting the history and cultural significance of West Virginia. These parks alone gain approximately 1 million visitors annually, which underlines the popularity and economic benefit of the national parks in West Virginia.
The best accommodation when visiting the national parks in West Virginia
What is the best accommodation when visiting the national parks in Virginia? Keep reading as I break down the best priced, most convenient and best facilitated accommodations for visiting the national parks in West Virginia…
Hampton Inn Summerville is a great accommodation, just a 20-minute drive from Gauley River! This beautiful inn has all the facilities needed for a perfect stay, including a minimarket on site, an outdoor swimming pool, fitness centre and free WI-FI. There is a selection of great restaurants nearby, so there will be no trouble in finding a suitable place to dine. The Hampton Inn is a convenient place to rewind after a day spent visiting Gauley River and the national parks in West Virginia. Click here to find out more.
Sleep Inn Beaver is the closest accommodation to New River Gorge. This charming Inn hosts a wide array of facilities, from a fitness centre to a breakfast buffet! There are plenty of restaurants nearby, so you’ve got plenty of choice for delicious places to eat, from fast foods like McDonald’s to the El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant & Cantina. Click here to find out more.
Quality Inn is the perfect accommodation for visiting Chesapeake Bay in West Virginia. There is free Wi-Fi on site, a gym and a selection of great restaurants and cafes nearby, from Starbucks to Subway. Enjoy the comfort of the bedrooms with a tea and coffee maker and a lovely king size bed to relax and rewind in. Click here to find out more.
Richwood retreat is an amazing accommodation, just a 28 minute drive from Gauley river national park. You will have access to free WIFI, wellness facilities and a fully equipped kitchen. Richwood retreat is cosily furnished, with beautiful interiors and amazingly comfy beds and sofas for the perfect nights sleep. Click here to find out more.
Essential packing list when visiting the national parks in West Virginia
So, what is the essential packing list for a trip to West Virginia? Here I will break down the essential list for the trip to West Virginia, with all of the must haves, to make sure you’re in for a perfect stay!
West Virginia state parks bucket list
A West Virginia state parks bucket list is perfect for your visit! With this book you have the ability to journal and document your stay! It’s a great way to remember your trip, and especially good for kids on the journey. Tick off your bucket list for the sites to spot whilst at the national parks.
Sunglasses are a great option for travelling in the summer months, and a timeless way to spice up any outfit. I recommend the GOGELAS sunglasses for women, for that elegant chic look as well as great eye protection with polarized lenses. I recommend the KALIYADA sunglasses for men for the classic look and lightweight frame.
Travel first aid kit
A travel first aid kit is essential for your trip to the national parks in West Virginia. The Protect Life first aid kit is perfect for being on the go, with a soft pouch that is easy and convenient for packing, equipped with all the essentials for any accidents that may happen when outdoors.
A hiking backpack is an essential for visiting the national parks in West Virginia because they are super convenient for carrying everything in a comfortable and lightweight backpack. I recommend the Osprey backpack for its high-quality waterproof material.
The best national parks in West Virginia
What are the best national parks in West Virginia? Here I will go through all of the beauty, culture, heritage and history that makes for the incredible national parks in West Virginia.
Gauley river national park is renowned for being one of the most adventurous white water boating rivers in the east, as well as having a 25 mile long river on site. The most favoured season for visitation is the autumn, beginning the weekend after labour day and lasting for 6 weekends. This is when hundreds arrive at Gauley, for the amazing boating opportunities in the stretch of over 100 rapids. Whitewater rafting at Gauley attracts 60,000 visitors annually, so it’s definitely one of the best national parks in West Virginia for boating!
Gauley river has some amazing wildlife and nature to immerse in and look out for! Gauley’s topography, elevation and microclimate have made way for a widely diverse variation in plant life. Make sure you take the opportunity to appreciate this factor when visiting, as the diversifying wildlife around you is endless!
Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in America, crossing 6 states, including Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, stretching over 3,000 miles! The site located in West Virginia holds much to discover with plenty of activity, and of course amazing bay views. Chesapeake’s site holds much to explore on site, from boating activities to unique hiking trails to explore the site.
New River gorge
New River Gorge is one of the oldest rivers in West Virginia, said to have been running for 10- 360 million years! It stretches over 70,000 acres of land., with the famous New River Gorge Bridge stretching over the river, making it quite a staple and beautiful view.
Across the site there are many places to sit back and enjoy a stunning view. Grandview is one of the best places to visit in the national park for a view of the beautiful scenery. From the Grand Views spot, you can experience views from the main overlook directly over the whole park, making for a colossal and stunning view. In this area you can find picnic spots, hiking trails and the visitor centre.
Sandstone falls is the largest waterfall on the new river, spanning 150 feet. This site of natural beauty marks the divide between the New river and the large bottomlands of the national park. Sandstone is a must- see when visiting New River Gorge, for its wonderful beauty and cultural significance.
Bluestone national scenic river is one of the best national parks in West Virginia for its astonishing natural beauty. This site protects a 10.5 mile section of the Bluestone river, providing an unspoiled section of the natural environment to explore.
Bluestone has 2 hikes to choose from to truly explore the site:
- The first hike is the Bluestone national scenic river walk. This is a 2 mile round trip along Bluestone river, where there is opportunity to discover the flora, fauna and different types of wildlife.
- The second hike is the Bluestone Turnpike hike. This one is great if you love a longer hike, with a length of 9.5 miles. This trail begins at Pipe stem resort state park to walk almost the entire duration of Bluestone state park. This is a great trek to take to fully immerse yourself in the nature of Bluestone. There is a shuttle service for the journey back.
Bluestone has some beautiful wildlife and animals on site, including the black bear, river otter, bald eagle, wild turkey and great blue heron. Some of its plant life includes red and white oak trees, tulip poplar, hickory, sliver maple, elm, box elder, white pine, and Virginia pine. So, with flourishing wildlife and plenty of trails, there is much to offer at Bluestone for peace in the great outdoors!
The 3 best national parks in West Virginia- further reading
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