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West Virginia travel guide

About West Virginia

Spin the wheel of outdoor adventure in West Virginia, and the same activity is unlikely to come up twice.

The self-styled ‘outdoor recreation capital of the East’ is shaking off any images of being a down-at-heel, coal-mining state, and has transformed itself into a giant natural playground, thanks to its forested hills, white-water rapids, underground caverns and powder-topped Appalachian Mountains.

West Virginia offers a veritable A to Z of adrenaline adventures, from all-terrain vehicle rides along one of the world’s largest off-road courses to zip-lining through gorges at night.

The Monongahela National Forest sprawls across the state’s highest peaks and is dotted with campgrounds and log cabins, which fill up in summer with hikers, mountain bikers, anglers and horse riders. If these activities all sound a bit tame, swing your climbing harness and ropes over to Seneca Rocks, a craggy quartzite outcrop jutting 270m (900ft) above the North Fork River.

Also guaranteed to get the heart pumping a little faster is a rafting trip down the Gauley River, known as the ‘Beast of the East’ owing to its preponderance of Class IV and V rapids. Prefer to watch others doing crazy stunts? Head on down to the annual Bridge Day at New River Gorge, when base jumpers fling themselves off a 267m (876ft) bridge.

Pause for breath and take a gander at West Virginia’s dazzling arts and crafts creations, from intricately designed quilts and colourful mouth-blown glass to custom-made woodwork. Potter round pretty small towns such as Hinton, a historic railway settlement, or lakeshore gem Summersville.

West Virginia’s music scene is legendary too, so whether you’re into Appalachian fiddle tunes or Southern gospel numbers, grab yourself a pepperoni roll and get those toes tapping.

Key facts

Area:

62,755 sq km (24,230 sq miles).

Population:

1.8 million (2015).

Population density:

29.4 per sq km.

Capital:

Charleston.