When you are out visiting the hills of West Virginia, taking in the country roads, there are a few places to stop and really grasp what this beautiful state has to offer.
You will not find a lot of mansions or fancy architecture, but you will find a history of a state that has impacted the United States and gone through many changes in just a few hundred years.
Famous Landmarks in West Virginia
1. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Nationally protected, Harpers Ferry National Park includes the historic Harpers Ferry where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, and includes acreage that is in Maryland and Virginia.
There are nearly 4000 acres in this park. Harpers Ferry is known for its controversial event in the Civil War where John Brown, a well-known abolitionist, took over the federal armory that was stored in the ferry.
Also Read: Famous Landmarks in Maryland
The intent of the park was to commemorate his efforts and what he stood for with his efforts. There is a lot of Civil War history found throughout this park.
Visitors take advantage of the numerous hiking trails and outdoor amenities offered in the area each year. This is one of the most visited locations in the state with thousands of visitors to the park annually.
2. Blackwater Falls State Park
Tucked away in the beautiful Allegheny Mountains is Blackwater Falls. With over 62 feet of water cascading down the mountainside into Blackwater Canyon, visitors enjoy taking a hike to this view and the 2300 acres that are included in the total park size.
There are numerous trails, with a few even being handicapped and wheelchair accessible, so all of your family members are able to enjoy a nice walk and the picturesque views of the mountains.
It was formally established as a state park in 1937 and has since been managed by them. The park was used for one day, but it has since been opened with cabins and a lodge for camping.
3. The Greenbrier
If you are planning to spend a few days in the Allegheny Mountains and want more comfort and luxury on your trip, make sure you visit The Greenbrier.
This luxury resort is available outside of the White Sulfur Springs and has been a nice oasis for upper-class residents in West Virginia. The current building was designed and built in 1913 and offers over 700 guest rooms for those wanting to enjoy this escape.
While at The Greenbrier, you will have the option of nearly 20 restaurants and 11,000 acres to enjoy your favorite recreation activities. You can even do some premium shopping from designers and retailers that are on the property.
Because of its elite status, you could possibly run into celebrities or other public figures who frequent this establishment.
4. New River Gorge National Park & Preserve
Currently owned by the United States National Park Service, the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve is designed and protected as a way to keep the Gorge operational through the Appalachian Mountains.
There is an abundance of natural and local history found in this National Park that tells stories about the Appalachian Mountains long before settlers ever moved to the area.
Today when you visit, you can enjoy a variety of different recreational activities like hiking and biking in the National Park.
5. West Virginia Penitentiary
While it is no longer housing prisoners, visitors traveling through Moundsville, West Virginia can tour the West Virginia Penitentiary that was in operation for over a century.
This prison is intimidating when you first drive up with its overwhelmingly Gothic architecture, tall columns, and many floors. It has been used for training purposes and also in recent films when it is not open to the public as a museum.
There are basements and turrets all throughout the building. It was designed at the end of the Civil War and opened in 1876 to start housing some of the most dangerous criminals in the state.
It is known for a large prison break in 1979 and a prison riot that took place only a few years later, in 1986. During its prime, the prison held up to 2000 inmates and performed executions on the property.
6. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
If you want to tour a town that was once booming and has since disappeared, enjoy the 11-mile train ride at Cass Scenic Railroad State Park.
You will also see the summit of Bald Knob on this ride, which is the highest point of the Back Allegheny Mountain in West Virginia. This railroad was opened in 1901 and Cass was founded to support needed workers who needed a place to live while out on the railroad.
When you take the train ride, you are on once log carts that were converted on a historic track and train that helped build part of West Virginia.
In 2015, the West Virginia State Rail Authority took ownership of the property and it is now maintained daily by Durbin and Greenbrier Valley Railroad.
7. Monongahela National Forest
Just around the corner from the railway is the Monogahela National Forest which includes over 900,000 acres of land that is protected. There are lots of large landforms in this acreage, including the Allegheny Front and Spruce Knob, the highest peak of the Allegheny mountain range.
There are numerous US Wildlife areas within the National Forest and areas that are meant for special use, limiting visitors. When you come out to visit the National Forest, you have over 800 miles of marked trails to take advantage of but be mindful of the plant species.
There are numerous in the area that is protected and specialized, and these areas will be marked when you are traveling. You have over two dozen campgrounds to choose from if you want to spend a vacation camping in the Monongahela National Forest.
8. Grave Creek Mound Historical Site
There are some memorials that are essential to the history of West Virginia and one of those is Grave Creek Mound Historical Site. this burial mound stands 62 feet above the ground and is located near the Ohio River Valley.
It is estimated to be thousands of years old, archaeologists estimate that the mound is nearly 300 feet deep below the surface. It was first written about by explorers in the 1700s and has been a place of excavation for several centuries.
What has been discovered in this mound includes artifacts found at the Delf Norona Museum at the site.
It is visited annually by thousands who want to experience this piece of history that gives so much information about Native American history for thousands of years.
9. Coopers Rock State Forest
Known for its whitewater rafting, Coopers Rock State Forest brings in lots of visitors to the area each year for recreational fun. It is available year-round and when you are not out on the water, you want to take advantage of the main overlook of the Cheat River.
You can either drive or walk to this overlook to enjoy the views. The Raven Rock overlook is about 2 miles of hiking where you can see a variety of borders in the area, which is very different from parks and other mountains in the area.
Because of the rocks, there is some East Coast rock climbing available as long as you are using the top-roping method. If you need a place to camp, they have campgrounds available also that are ideal for primitive camping and backcountry options.
10. Berkeley Springs State Park
Right in the center of Berkeley Springs is the Berkeley Springs State Park which is available to everyone. It has a history of being a health deposit since the 1700s since it is a mineral spa.
Its history with the Native American population in the area encouraged settlers to use these springs for the same health issues, especially with digestion.
There is a Roman Bathhouse on the property and has gone through several renovations, including a more recent remodel to protect and preserve the building. On the second floor of the bathhouse, you will find a museum that houses artifacts and information related to Berkeley Springs and how it came to be in West Virginia.
If you are traveling through this area, it is essential that you stop by the park and see the namesake for the area, as it has attracted residents and visitors for many years.