A recent book on West Virginia State Parks is entitled Jewels in our Crown: West Virginia State Parks by Maureen Crockett. Our state parks are indeed jewels in our crown, showing the best of the Mountain State. Among the many jewels are Civil War battlefields, steam-belching locomotives, and massive rock formations, sweeping vistas of rivers, mountains and valleys, archaeological sites, and hiking trails for both the novice and the experienced backpacker (just to name some of the jewels).
West Virginia State Parks – official site
Includes basic information about the park system, such as lodging, calendar of events, programs, and activities at the various parks. There is a drop-down menu with information about various parks. Special features include a series of videos on some of the parks and virtual tours of some of the parks and their facilities.
West Virginia State Parks – Wikipedia
A capsule description of each state park, a checklist of services for each location, and also references and external links for each park.
While a visit to any of West Virginia's state parks is a special occasion, here is a list of parks that are ideal for one-day visits:
Babcock State Park – Clifftop, WV
Babcock features a working grist mill whose picture is found on calendars all over North America and occasionally in other parts of the world. Cornmeal and buckwheat flour made at the Glade Creek Grist Mill are available for sale. The drive from Charleston to Hawks Nest and then further along to Babcock State Park is along Route 60, which is also a National Scenic Byway. Check http://www.midlandtrail.com for information about sites along the way.
Beartown State Park – Hillsboro, WV
This small park has a boardwalk that winds through and around massive sandstone boulders, overhanging cliffs and deep crevasses with markers to explain the geologic processes that created the park.
Beech Fork State Park – south of Barboursville, WV
Located on Beech Fork Lake, the park is a favorite for fishermen, has facilities for boaters, and is a favorite spot for bird-watching. One can see migratory waterfowl, songbirds, and raptors. Located near Huntington.
Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park – an island near Parkersburg, WV
The property contained the mansion of Harman Blennerhassett, a participant in some of the alleged intrigues of Aaron Burr. While the original mansion burned to the ground long ago, a detailed replica was built. Tour the mansion and take a carriage ride on the island.
Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park – Summersville, WV
The site of a regionally-significant Civil War battle in 1861. It represented the failure of a Confederate drive to regain control of the Kanawha Valley. As a result, the movement for West Virginia statehood proceeded without serious threat from the Confederates. Take a hike to the overlooks of the Gauley River.
Chief Logan State Park – Logan, WV
Special features at the park that is one of our most-visited are an amphitheater for outdoor drama, a wildlife exhibit, and a museum.
Hawks Nest State Park – Ansted, WV
Vistas of the New River Gorge and a tram ride to the bottom make this a special place. If the tram ride is too tame, you can walk to the bottom of the gorge on a rail-trail. Try lunch at the lodge-get a table next to the full-length windows looking down into the gorge.
Twin Falls State Park – Saulsville, WV
A championship golf course, twelve scenic hiking trails, picnicking, swimming in an outdoor pool, or just relaxing with a piece of history at the Pioneer Farm are featured here.
Tu-Endie-Wei State Park – Point Pleasant, WV
Located at Point Pleasant, the park commemorates the Battle of the same name. Make sure you walk to the point where the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers meet and also check out the detailed murals on the floodwall. This is an ongoing project that tells the story of the area chronologically starting with the Native American settlements here. Take time to walk through this historic river town and check out the Ohio River Museum and the Point Pleasant Historic District at Main Street between 1st and 11th and Viand Street between 8th and 10th.
For weekend trips or a week's vacation away from everything, check out any of the following parks. There are three types of state parks: day-use parks, those with camping and/or lodging, and historical sites. A common feature for day-use and camping/lodging parks is picnic shelters and historic areas. Some also offer swimming and gift shops. This list includes links to the parks and some information about their unique features.
Berkeley Springs State Park – Berkeley Springs, WV
The park is one of the older parks (founded in 1930) and it has been a health resort since 1776. The mineral waters that flow from the springs are at a constant temperature of 74.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Baths and spa treatments are available.
Blackwater Falls State Park – Davis, WV
The park is named for the falls of the Blackwater River whose amber-colored waters plunge five stories, then twist and tumble through an eight-mile-long gorge. The water gets its amber color from the tannic acid of fallen hemlock. A walk down to the viewing areas in any season is not to be missed.
Cacapon Resort State Park – Berkeley Springs, WV
A resort in the shadows of a wide expanse of Cacapon Mountain. At 2,300 feet, it is the highest peak in the state's eastern panhandle.
Canaan Valley Resort Park – Davis, WV
Canaan Valley Resort Park is in the highest valley east of the Mississippi and contains the second-largest inland wetland in the United States. Its average snowfall of fifteen inches is ideal for downhill and cross-country skiing, as well as snow-tubing.
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park – Cass, WV
Train rides on open cars pulled by an original steam-driven locomotive make this a unique park. You will feel the power of the locomotive, hear the steam whistle and the click-clack of the tracks, and see unparalleled views of a vast wilderness area. Take time to see the complete town.
Pinnacle Rock State Park – Bramwell, WV
This massive sandstone formation is just off Route 52 in the southern part of the state. The view from the walkway around the rock is impressive.
Pricketts Fort State Park – Fairmont, WV
This recreation of the fort sits on high ground for defense purposes. Discover living history with guides in colonial attire and blacksmiths, spinners, and other artisans showing their period works.