Description - This small eastern state encompasses vast nationally-administered lands that provide excellent accessibility to many recreation pursuits. West Virginia is teeming with historical, natural and cultural resources.Although the state is small, its natural areas contain diverse geographic features supporting many different activities.
Copyright: National Park Service
New River Gorge National River
- West Virginia has a lot to offer outdoor enthusiasts. Although the state is small, its natural areas contain diverse geographic features supporting many different activities. The eastern portion of the state contains the largest amount of public lands. Within this region is the Monongahela National Forest, which consists of 850,000 acres of hardwood and coniferous forests. The George Washington National Forest lies on the northeastern West Virginia border with Virginia. This area is characterized by the Allegheny Mountains and the highest elevations within the state. The North and South Branches of the Potomac River flow through the northern reaches of eastern West Virginia and provide a venue for rafting and kayaking.
The southern region of the state contains the large communities of Charleston and Beckley. East of Beckley is the New River Gorge National River. This designation protects 50 miles of the river and provides access for canoeing, kayaking, rafting and camping. The steep-walled gorges provide excellent climbing routes. Several state parks in southern West Virginia preserve natural, historical and Native American resources.
Western West Virginia is contained by the Ohio River on the west and Interstate 79 in the east. Wheeling lies in the northern panhandle of the region. The area contains several small tributaries to the Ohio and Kanawha Rivers, as well as numerous state-run natural areas.
Recreation - This state contains 2,000 miles of mountain streams and rivers for fishing, kayaking, rafting and canoeing. The national forests and state parks throughout the state provide numerous opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, camping and picnicking.
Climate - West Virginia experiences four distinct seasons, none of which are extreme. Temperatures in the highlands of the Allegheny Mountains are somewhat more severe than the rest of the state. Generally temperatures during the winter months range from 15 to 40 degrees F. Ample snow accumulation provides for cross-country and downhill skiing opportunities. Spring brings blooming trees and shrubs to the forested regions of the state, as well as warmer temperatures. During this season, March through May, expect mild temperatures between 45 and 70 degrees F. Summers are normally hot with high humidity, especially at lower elevations. Expect temperatures to range from 70 at night to 95 during the dog days of August. Fall brings cool, crisp air to West Virginia and spectacular foliage color changes. Bring a light jacket for this season, which brings temperatures between 35, at night, to 70 degrees F, during the day.
The George Washington National Forest lies on the northeastern West Virginia border with Virginia.