West Virginia - Wild and Wonderful
January 1, 1970
by Elina Bakunova
“Where are the skyscrapers, neon signs and Macdonalds? This is the USA!” It was my first thought when I arrived in West Virginia. Instead of everything “that is supposed to be in America” there were mountains, one-story houses and deer. The thought that I had to live there for a whole year was scary – it seemed a very boring place.
I was very wrong. The day when I was leaving West Virginia I was ready to give my ticket to anybody to stay there longer. This place became a second home in my heart and I want to tell you why you should travel to West Virginia.
About the state
West Virginia – is a small state on the east of the USA surrounded by neighboring states: Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. It is the only state in America to be fully located in the mountains and is also called a “mountain state”. There is a famous in a country anthem of the state: “West Virginia, mountain mamma. Take me home, country roads…”
Here you won’t find any bid cities. Сharleston – is a capital and the biggest city in the state with a population of only 50 thousand people. I lived nearby Wheeling town, there are 27 thousand people and the locals regarded it as a big town.
I am from Russia but I am not a very big fan of winter. That is why I loved the climate of the West Virginia during the whole year. It was never too cold. Even though you will need some warm clothes in December-January, in February-March it is almost summer again.
What to see in West Virginia
If you are looking for architectural monuments, museums or bus sightseeing tours – this is a wrong place. The nature of the state is the reason you should come to West Virginia. It is a state in the Appalachians. Therefore, it’s a mix of rocks, caves, waterfalls and mountain rivers. It’s a perfect place for mountaineering, down-hill skiing, hiking and riding a mountain bike.
I traveled to all the corners of West Virginia and want to share my “TOP-5 must-see places”.
New River Gorge Bridge
Not far from a city Fayetteville there is a breathtaking place. There you see a view that you will want to enjoy for hours and to stand there embracing all the beauty. There is no point in describing what I saw, just look at the picture.
Coopers Rock State Forest
It’s a national park nearby Morgantown. It’s a good place for hiking and cycling with scenic landscapes. Besides, there are a lot of tables with seats for picnics, playgrounds and trails. Many families love to spend their leisure at this park.
The most impressive thing for me at this park was a viewing point Ravens Rock. You have to go up the hill for 30-40 minutes – I recommend you to wear comfortable shoes for this walk. Then, when you get to the top, a stunning view of the mountains, forests and meandering river will be waiting for you. While standing on the cliff you feel like you are a part of nature and you get a longing for flying over this beauties. It is a very inspiring place.
I lived near the town of Wheeling and there was my favorite park Oglebay. I have never seen parks huge like this one! At least, there are no parks as Oglebay in Russia or Europe. Here everybody can find activities for any taste. You can go to the zoo, play tennis or golf, ride catamarans, have a picnic, feed deer or go to the outside pool. And, of course, walk. Go for a walk in this picturesque and well-maintained park. Every time I spent time there I was amazed at its beauty and calmness.
Valley Falls State Park
If you have been to Niagara Falls and couldn’t figure out how to escape from crowds of tourists and camera shutter clicks, then this place is for you. Here you won’t find water falling from the 50 meters height, but you will find lots of small waterfalls where you can swim. There are almost no tourists there and you can enjoy seclusion with nature and so as elsewhere in West Virginia.
Morgantown is a city-university, or a university the size of a city. West Virginia University is located here and you can witness a real American campus: students eating their lunch on the grass, their activities and so on. Everything is just exactly like in American movies and TV-series. It’s a real America without crowds of tourists. I put this town on my list because it is atmospheric, and you can also watch West Virginia’s famous football games here.
If you decided to see the mountain state for yourself
New-York, Los-Angeles, Las Vegas – the most popular destinations in the states. I don’t think that anybody goes to the USA exclusively for visiting West Virginia. Moreover, I doubt everybody knows about this place. But if you ever happened to be on the east coast of America you should definitely find time for West Virginia. West Virginia is the pristine nature and a real one-story America without many tourists. Here the most hospitable and kindest people will be always happy to help you with anything.
You should take a car and set off on a journey in “country roads” as it says in the state’s anthem. By the way, you can’t do without a car in this state. There is public transportation only in the big cities. Thus, it is impossible to travel from one city to another without a car.
So, take a car and start exploring the USA that is unknown to most of the visitors. Just imagine: riding a car while listening to country songs. At both sides of a road you see mountains, rivers, small waterfalls and pretty houses. At the gas stations, there are always shops with food and smiling salesmen. My heart is filled with the warmest memories of this place. Here you will feel the real America. And that is why you should visit West Virginia.