13 Most Beautiful State & National Parks in West Virginia
Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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Once you get out into nature and experience the outdoors in West Virginia, you’ll understand why the state’s motto is “wild and wonderful.” There are so many hidden gems outside in West Virginia thanks to stunning landscapes that provide ample recreation and epic views. There are numerous state and national parks in West Virginia that will introduce you to the natural beauty here, starting with the following popular destinations.
Babcock State Park is one of the most iconic destinations in West Virginia because of its gorgeous Glade Creek Grist Mill. The park spans 4,127 acres and is 20 miles southeast of the New River Gorge Bridge. Top things to do in this park are mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and whitewater rafting in the gorge nearby. Photographers and artists love visiting this park because of its beauty, and you can even use a drone to take photos here after checking in with the park office. There are picnic areas and restrooms that are open seasonally. Top trails to check out include the Island-In-the-Sky-Trail and Mountain Health Trail. For camping, there’s a 52-unit campground with electric hookups and also 28 cabins for vacation rentals.
Pinnacle Rock State Park is famous for its 3,100-foot sandstone formation, Pinnacle Rock. It’s a top spot for photographers and also for hiking, fishing, and picnicking. The park is on U.S. Route 52 in Mercer County. There are no overnight accommodations in this park. The park was established in 1938 and spans over 400 acres, which includes Jimmy Lewis Lake. For trails, check out the Beaver Pond Trail, Acorn Ridge Trail, and Turkey Rock Trail. Nearby attractions include the Bramwell Historic District and the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia.
New River Gorge National River is a U.S. National Park Service site that features a whitewater river that flows through deep canyons and is one of the oldest rivers in North America. The park covers over 70,000 acres and has lots of natural and cultural history to learn about. This is a great place to bring kids because there’s a Junior Ranger program, Grandview Citizen Science Program, Camp Brookside Environmental Education Center, and lots of field trip opportunities. Various guided opportunities are available in the park. For a serious challenge, consider doing the 100-Mile Challenge on the trails in the New River Gorge National River and Bluestone National Scenic River parks.
Located in the Allegheny Mountains in Tucker County, Blackwater Falls State Park is known for the 57-foot cascade waterfall of Blackwater Falls. Some of the state’s most-photographed spots are located here, including Pendleton Point Overlook, Lindy Point, and Elakala Falls. There are scenic views throughout the year here that you can experience along the 20 miles of hiking trails. There is also a long sledding magic carpet and multiple overnight accommodation options. You can stay in one of the furnished cabins, the tent and trailer campsites, or at the comfortable lodge with guest rooms. This has been a favorite destination for adventurers since the 1800s.
Another West Virginia park with dramatic scenery is Coopers Rock State Forest, which was established in 1936 and offers iconic views. It’s off I-68 and 13 miles from Morgantown. Here you’ll find 50 miles of hiking and biking trails, canyon overlooks, climbing and bouldering opportunities, cross-country skiing, a lake, and a river for rafting. It’s an adventure lover’s paradise and has campsites with electrical hookups for overnight stays. Pets are allowed here, but McCollum and Rhododendron campgrounds close for the winter season.
Audra State Park is a wooded park by the Middle Fork River in southwest Barbour County. People come here for hiking, camping, and picnicking. It’s also fun to check out the rock overhang of the Alum Cave for photo opportunities as you walk along the Alum Creek and Cave Trail. Boating, fishing, and swimming are also activities to do here. There are 65 campsites here, and 39 of them have electricity. The campground has modern bathhouse facilities and a playground for kids. The West Virginia State Wildlife Center and the town of Buckhannon are nearby attractions to experience.
Come to Camp Creek State Park for nearly 6,000 acres of forests, 35 miles of trails, and seven miles of seasonally stocked trout streams for fishing. It has been a state park since 1987 and just off of I-77 in Mercer County. Families love coming here for the weekend, and road trippers come this way for scenic drives. There are four campgrounds in the park and all of them have fire rings, grills, and picnic tables. The Mash Fork Campground has electrical and water hookups, while the Blue Jay campground has rustic tent sites. You can also choose to stay in the ranger outpost cabin that is accessed by a 3.3-mile hike and has bunk beds and a twin bed in a loft.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is an NPS national historic park that highlights a quaint and historic community along the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Come here to hike the trails and battlefields and learn new things at the museum exhibits. This is a popular destination for families with kids, and there’s even a Bark Ranger program for your dog. For hiking, you can walk along the 22 miles of trails. The park extends beyond just West Virginia and into Maryland and Virginia as well. Start your exploration of the park at the visitor center, which is open year-round and staffed with rangers.
Hawks Nest State Park is in the middle of the whitewater rafting country and a 270-acre park with an aerial tramway, jetboat rides, hiking trails, and a nature museum. But many people come here to experience one of the most challenging whitewater areas in the country. There’s a lodge here, which is about 10 miles north of the New River Gorge Bridge. You can also enjoy a meal at the Vista Restaurant at the lodge. Before this was a state park, it was a nesting ground for osprey and a Native America trail.
Holly River State Park spans 8,101 acres of forest and is the second-largest state park in West Virginia. It is a peaceful park where you can find solitude and plenty of outdoor recreation too. Swimming, hiking, tennis, and camping are popular activities here. The Holly River Restaurant is open for dining except for in the winter. The park has campsites with electrical hookups. You can also stay in the park cabins that are cozy, accommodate two to four people each, and some are even dog-friendly.
This well-appointed state park is a mountain retreat and a major ski and golf destination. It has a full-service lodge, campgrounds, and cabins. The park was established on 6,014 acres of land in 1963. It is managed by a private operator. For dining, there’s the Hickory Room, Laurel Lounge, Seasons Café, and Quenchers Pub. Popular trails include the Bald Knob Trail and Blackwater River Trail. For overnight stays, there are two, three, and four-bedroom cabins and cottages, campsites with full hookups, and a lodge with guest rooms and a health spa.
Beartown State Park is a Greenbrier and Pocahontas County state park that’s filled with interesting rock formations that you can see while walking down a half-mile-long boardwalk. It’s a 110-acre park that’s open from April to October. There are no overnight accommodations in the park. This is a simple park that’s great for going for a walk and learning about nature with the informational markers along the trail.
Although there are many more beautiful parts of West Virginia too, Valley Falls State Park is a beautiful natural area. It is a 1,145-acre park with four picturesque waterfalls, miles of hiking and biking trails, and fishing opportunities. This is a day-use park that does not offer overnight accommodations. Popular trails to check out are the Tygart Valley (River) Trail, Wild Turkey Trail, Rhododendron Trail, and Red Cardinal Trail. Tygart Lake State Park is another great destination just 30 minutes south of here.