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There are eight National Park Services in the state of West Virginia although the state has no National Parks. The national park services are comprised of one National Historic Trail and one National Scenic Trail. The state is also home to other fascinating parks services, for instance, there are two National Historical Park, a National Park and Preserve, and a National Recreation Area. Also there you’ll find a National Scenic River and a National Treasure. Ready to explore all that The Mountain State has to offer? Here are some of the best National Parks in West Virginia to visit.

7 of the Best National Parks in West Virginia

1. Appalachian – National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The 2,200-mile (3,500km) public footpath stretches from Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The first section of the trail opened in 1923 and construction finished in 1937. Due to rerouting and modifying, the trail’s length varies from time to time. The scenic footpath crosses “wooded, pastoral, wild, and culturally resonant lands of the Appalachian Mountains.” Approximately three million people visit the Trail every year. Some 3,000 people a year attempt a thru-hike. Those who manage to complete the entire Appalachian Trail in one go become 2,000-milers. Only about one in four make it all the way. Some 4 miles (6km) of the trail passes through West Virginia and about 20 miles (32km) runs along the Virginia border. The trail passes through the town of Harpers Ferry, the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

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2. Chesapeake Bay Watershed – National Treasure

Chesapeake Bay is recognised as a national treasure for its historical, cultural, economic and ecological significance. It is a world-class ecological gem that is home to several thousand species of plants and animals, for instance, blue crabs and bald eagles. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States and one of the largest and most biologically productive estuaries in the world. The Chesapeake Bay watershed and network of streams, creeks, and rivers cover 64,000 square miles of the East Coast of the USA. It stretches from upstate New York to southern Virginia, from the West Virginia panhandle to the Delmarva Peninsula. All along the watershed, you can enjoy fishing, hunting, boating, water sports, hiking, bird-watching, and relaxation.

Aerial view of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, connecting Annapolis with Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

3. Bluestone – National Scenic River

The National Park Service (NPS) of the Bluestone National Scenic River protects a 10.5-mile section of the Bluestone River in southern West Virginia including an ancient gorge carved by the water. It is an immensely diverse and scenic area of the southern Appalachians that provides an unspoiled experience for visitors and a haven for a variety of plants and animals.

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4. Lewis & Clark – National Historic Trail

Extending for some 4,900 miles (7,900km) from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon, the ‘Lewis and Clark’ is the third-longest National Historic Trail. The Trail of Tears in North Carolina and the California Trail are both longer. The trail follows the 1804 to 1806 Lewis and Clark Expedition who set off to cross the newly acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase. In West Virginia, the trail takes plenty of historical sites. For instance, the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex.

5. Gauley River – National Recreation Area

The Gauley River is a 105-mile-long river in West Virginia. The Gauley River National Recreation Area is along a 25-mile section of this free-flowing body of water. It also encompasses six miles of the Meadow River tributary. Here, the water flows through scenic gorges and valleys. It contains a wide variety of natural and cultural points of interest, for instance, the site of an 1861 Civil War battle. The Gauley River National Recreation Area also features several class V+ rapids (extremely long, obstructed, or very violent rapids). This makes the Gauley River one of the most adventurous white water boating rivers in the east of the United States of America.

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6. Harpers Ferry – National Historical Park

Harpers Ferry is a town in West Virginia. Here you’ll find the Harpers Ferry National Historial Park where nature meets history. In this park, you’ll find lots of sites of interest, for instance, 19th-century buildings, a Civil War Museum and John Brown’s Fort. This is the building where John Brown and several of his followers barricaded themselves in October 1859 during the final hours of their ill-fated raid. At ‘The Point’ lookout, where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, you have wonderful views of Maryland and Virginia.

best national parks west virginia

7. New River Gorge – National Park & Reserve

The New River flows through the U.S. states of North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. It is one of the oldest rivers in the North American continent. The National Park and Reserve cover over 70,000 acres of land along the New River. This area is rich in cultural and natural history. A visit to this area is rewarding as it is incredibly scenic. There’s also an abundance of things to do out in nature. For instance, outdoor activities include climbing, biking, hiking and whitewater rafting. If you’d like to take it easy, there are lots of relaxing spots to bask in nature or enjoy a picnic.

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