Generally blanketed in white, West Virginia’s mountains and valleys yield outstanding winter options for outdoor recreation as well as creature comforts. Fireplaces in cabins, hearty soups and meals at state restaurants, and an abundance of special weekends and reduced rates for getaway accommodations create a welcoming atmosphere.
More than half of the 49-state park areas in West Virginia feature four-season use. State parks lodges and cabins are available at these areas any time of year: Blackwater Falls, Canaan Valley, Cacapon, North Bend, Hawks Nest, Twin Falls, Stonewall Resort, Pipestem Resort, Tygart Lake, Chief Logan Lodge, Watoga, Lost River, Beech Fork, Cass Scenic Railroad and Bluestone state parks.
Cass Scenic Railroad is often overlooked as a winter destination. Trains run from mid-May through October, but the classic two-story company houses are reservable year-round. Reservations for company houses at Cass Scenic Railroad, lodge sleeping rooms, and cabins at lodge parks also offer Internet reservation service.
Seasonal and day-use parks are fully open from dates in mid-April through October and in some areas through November.
“State Parks like Holly River, Babcock, and the four state forests featuring cabins winterize the facilities to preserve the infrastructure of these historic CCC structures,” said Sissie Summers, programming coordinator for West Virginia State Park. “Winter visitors to day use areas may find buildings winterized, but weather permitting, hiking trails and fishing are recreation are additional options. Cedar Creek State Park sees brisk use of the activity building in the winter months by community and family groups.”
Canaan Valley Resort has a new 160-room lodge. With commanding views of “the valley,” this state park is the winter destination in West Virginia for downhill skiing, snow tubing, cross-country and ice skating. Located near Davis, W.Va., Canaan Valley Resort is near Blackwater Falls State Park. Blackwater Falls features a sledding run and cross-country skiing center. Snowshoeing also is popular at both parks.
“Blackwater Falls’ scenic views are inspiring in all seasons, but in the winter months visitors and residents in the area can admire the mountainous terrain and geography of the area as snow defines the peaks and valleys,” Summers said.
If skiing and sledding aren’t an attraction, cabins at Watoga, Blackwater Falls, Bluestone, Twin Falls and Cacapon feature fireplaces, full kitchens and linens for a winter weekend or longer stay. Winter rates are in effect with many areas offering additional discounts or added value. Watoga State Park has a 50 percent off rate when staying three or more nights, mid-week, beginning Jan. 1, 2014, as an example.
Blennerhassett Island is a state park on an island in the Ohio River. The island and sternwheeler rides are open from May through October; however, the three-story Blennerhassett Museum of Regional History in greater downtown Parkersburg is open year-round and offers tours, gifts shop and special lecture series and events.
The website to learn more about state parks in West Virginia is www.wvstateparks.com. The “Find a Park” feature lists parks individually, or click the park name on the map to go to a specific park website.