Recently, the Public Service Commission held a public comment hearing at Hawks Nest State Park. I was reminded once again of the incredible beauty of West Virginia. The meeting room at the Hawks Nest Lodge was spacious and well-appointed, but its best feature was the view outside the floor-to-ceiling windows. Looking out over the gorge, we saw raptors soaring high above the hills and the river. While having dinner at the restaurant, we noticed that we could see all the way to the New River Gorge Bridge. It was breathtaking!
That experience made me want to take advantage of this opportunity to remind everyone how wonderful our state parks are. No matter where you live in the state, there is at least one state park or state forest within easy driving distance.
If you are planning a special event, whether it’s a meeting or a wedding reception, many state parks have facilities available for rent. If you want to extend your visit, you can camp with your tent or RV, stay in a lodge, or rent a cabin. Park cabins range from primitive to modern luxury accommodations. Lodging is available for groups of all sizes, and some are handicap accessible or pet-friendly. If you’re looking for a unique experience, there are company houses from the early 1900s near Cass Scenic Railway and the Thorny Mountain fire tower at Seneca State Park.
Each park has its own personality and offers different types of activities. You can swim, play golf, ride horses, enjoy boating and fishing, explore rail trails or just hang out by the campfire. And there is always something new to discover. Soon, Coopers Rock will offer the state’s first star-gazing cabins that will have their own telescopes.
If you only have time for a day trip, you can take a deep breath and feel the stress melt away as you walk through the woods. Hiking trails range from easy strolls to challenging climbs. Meander along quiet streams or take in magnificent waterfalls and majestic vistas. At North Bend and Coopers Rock, there are even trail areas that are wheelchair accessible.
I hope you’ll plan a trip to one of our state parks soon. It’s the best way to experience what is truly wild and wonderful about West Virginia.
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