The Appalachian Mountains have carved a unique landscape throughout West Virginia, one that is overflowing with outdoor recreation. Here you can enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, white water rafting, and ATVing. With 1,000 named mountains, three national forests, and a brand new national park, West Virginia is truly an outdoor lover's paradise. This trip attempts to cover all that the Mountain State has to offer—taking you deep underground to explore hidden caverns, high above the clouds to the tallest point in the state, and everywhere in between.
Located within Blackwater Falls State Park, these falls are easily some of the most beautiful and most popular in all of West Virginia. Falling at a height of 62 feet, Blackwater Falls is actually the highest above-ground waterfall in the entire state. The falls are usually flowing at their peak during the spring due to seasonal rains. You can easily view the dark-colored cascade from the wooden observation deck that extends from the parking area. Or, if you’re on the other side of the Blackwater River, take the Gentle Trail for a more distanced view and get a real appreciation for the water’s power.
Located along the Shenandoah River, the Harpers Ferry / Civil War Battlefields KOA Holiday is about as close to the famous Harpers Ferry National Historic Park as you can get. In fact, the entire campground seems to be surrounded by historic landmarks, making it an ideal place for both nature and history lovers. There are RV and tent camping sites, as well as Deluxe Cabins with bathrooms. And when you're not taking in the incredible history of the surrounding area, be sure to check out some of the on-site amenities, including a Junior Olympic-sized pool, indoor basketball courts, an arcade game room, a movie theater, and the beloved Grapes & Grinds—a specialty coffee and wine shop.
Seneca Rocks is not only a West Virginia icon and full of natural beauty, it also has a pretty interesting history. You can learn more about this history—and the surrounding area’s important role in World War II—at the Seneca Rocks Discovery Center. Located as the base of the rock formation, the Discovery Center is a great place to start your visit. Here you'll find a huge wall of windows perfectly showcasing the famous rocks. The center not only allows you to experience some of the most picturesque views, you can also plot your hiking path, visit the gift shop, learn about some rock climbing legends, and enjoy local art displays.
Located just outside of Morgantown, the West Virginia Botanic Garden was built inside a former reservoir and offers visitors a chance to explore miles of lush greenery and delicate ponds. Inside the 82-acre park there are numerous smaller gardens, including a colorful butterfly garden and a relaxing hammock garden. There are eight different trails that snake through the property, ranging from 100 yards to one mile. Both young children and older adults will enjoy discovering the various wooden sculptures and ‘tree faces’ that are scattered throughout the garden’s grounds.
From the outside, Lost World Caverns looks like a simple, wooden building. But once you step inside, you'll have to descend more than 230 feet below ground in order to experience the fascinating network of caves. Take the mile-long self-guided tour and see some of the most incredible stalagmites and limestone waterfalls. Or, if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, join one of the “wild” tours. These tours take you to more remote parts of the caves, where you have to squeeze through small openings and traverse muddy pools. Be sure to stop by the visitor center and learn more about the World Record that was set here and the prehistoric bones that were found deep inside one of the caves.
Located smack-dab in the middle of the state, the Flatwoods KOA Journey in Sutton is an ideal place to camp during your tour of West Virginia. With just 50 campsites and completely surrounded by rolling hills, the Flatwoods KOA Journey really makes you feel like you're in the heart of the Mountain State. There is a large dog park on-site, as well as an outdoor amphitheater that regularly hosts live music in the summer. This particular KOA is actually located right behind a 200-room Days Inn & Suites, where registered KOA guests are allowed to use all of the hotel's amenities as well.
The mere name of this park might give you an idea of the incredible aerial views it provides. Hawks Nest State Park is located on 270 acres that overlook the New River Gorge. The park’s main clifftop overlook offers a magnificent view of the New River some 750 feet below, and is sometimes referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” There are plenty of paved pathways and well-maintained stairs throughout the park, in addition to a rustic lodge, mini golf, an on-site restaurant, jet boat rides, and an aerial tramway that will take you from the bottom to the top of the gorge.
While Blackwater Falls may be the highlight of the north, Sandstone Falls is definitely the highlight of the south. Stretching across the full length of the New River and surrounded by deep green forests, Sandstone Falls look like something out of a fairytale. A popular place for wildlife viewing, don't be surprised if you see deer, beavers, and turtles during your visit. You can easily view the falls from the boardwalk path, or continue along and cross a small bridge to “the island” for a much closer look.
One of the most beautiful but often overlooked places in the United States, the New River Gorge is the country's newest national park. Officially deemed a national park in December 2020, the New as it is commonly called is actually quite old. Estimated to be the second oldest river in the world, this area was first settled by Native Americans thousands of years ago and then fought over in the Civil War. Today, the New River Gorge offers world-class rock climbing and white water rafting. The park itself does not have any lodging—only primitive camping along the water—but there are plenty of motels, cabins, and bed & breakfasts in the surrounding towns.
Between the incredible scenery, world-class climbing and rafting, rich history, and beautiful campgrounds, it's easy to see why West Virginia is a premier outdoor recreation destination. And with multiple KOAs scattered throughout the state, you can be assured that you'll have the perfect place to stay and enjoy it all.
Banner Photo Credit: Photo by Steve Heap
Behind the Yellow Sign at KOA, we combine the great outdoors with great service. We offer modern sites, facilities and amenities designed to meet the needs of every kind of camper. And with 500+ campgrounds across North America, it’s easy to find an amazing place for camping fun!