West Virginia’s parks and forests are engulfed in full color this October, but leaf-peeping is just one of many popular draws. “Even the dusting of recent snow in the higher elevations at Cass Scenic Railroad and Blackwater Falls was welcomed,” says Ken Caplinger, chief of parks. “Fall’s colors and cooling temperatures is the front door to winter outdoor recreation or for a deserved retreat to a cabin or lodge for a day or two.”
State parks with lodges top out with 10 locations across West Virginia. All lodges feature full-service restaurants, meeting and conference amenities, and wireless Internet access. Each lodge has a unique quality, says Caplinger. At North Bend and Twin Falls, visitors find a hometown atmosphere and, according to Caplinger, when you walk in the front door it is much like you’ve come home after being away for a while. Pipestem, Stonewall, Canaan Valley resorts and Blackwater Falls state parks cater to the outdoor spirit and perhaps a wider range of activities. At these areas, amenities are more four-season by nature and include sledding or skiing, golf course or golf nearby, extremes in elevations and a strong nature-based affinity for many guests.
“Eagles wintering in southern West Virginia have Pipestem Resort State Park nature programs in the public eye. A new tubing park at Canaan Valley opening this December and the renovation of a traditional sled run at Blackwater Falls comes to mind as great reasons for families to use parks in the winter months.”
Chief Logan Lodge caters to very large group needs and complements the state park that hosts a Christmas Light Show during November and December. To West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, Cacapon Resort features a Robert Trent Jones, Sr. golf course, wobble clay range, vacation cabins, lodge and good meeting space and group services. Cacapon Resort State Park is slated for expansion from a 49-room lodge to 127 units. Its proximity to the Washington D.C. and Baltimore population makes it an attractive destination for time away.
Hawks Nest State Park in Ansted is located on the Midland Trail and less than an hour’s drive from the state Capitol in Charleston. This park comes alive in winter with scheduled dinner theater and events. For the second year in the history of Tygart Lake State Park, the lodge and restaurant will be open for business. The Boston Beanery Restaurant at the park lodge is popular. The park is less than an hour’s drive from Morgantown, Clarksburg and Fairmont. Tygart Lake anticipates an influx of football fans with WVU’s move into the Big 12 Conference.
Visitors to lodge parks will find many areas have upgraded sleeping room furnishing, replaced carpet and added new amenities and services. Wireless Internet service keeps guests in touch with family, friends, and work, if they choose. Lodge parks also feature vacation cabins. Blackwater Falls recently open 13 additional cabins that are all four bedrooms. Hawks Nest and Chief Logan do not have cabins.
Park Tips and Suggestions
Blackwater Falls State Park kicks December into gear with a mid-week 50 percent off two or more nights cabin or room rental from Dec. 1-20 Monday-Thursday. Blackwater also promotes a Ski Stay and Play package on the website www.blackwaterfalls.com on the getaways and deals page. This offer is a 20 percent savings.
Thanksgiving: Restaurants at state parks lodges are open year-round. Thanksgiving has become a time for family to meet, dine and enjoy time together. Restaurants generally feature a Thanksgiving buffet or special meals. State park lodges are open daily.
Christmas at North Bend: North Bend State Park features a Country Christmas on Dec. 24-25. Although North Bend has several packaged rates, Country Christmas is particularly nice. For $99 total, two people can stay overnight at the lodge on either date and enjoy a Christmas Day buffet meal in the restaurant. The cost includes all taxes and gratuities associated with the package. Additional nights are at a reduced rate. Find more deals and events at www.northbendsp.com or call 304-643-2931.
Winter at Watoga: Watoga State Park in Pocahontas County has offered 50 percent off cabin rentals of three or more nights from January through March, mid-week, for several years. People looking for less-popular vacation times such as winter have discovered that one of West Virginia’s summer favorites is also a winter treat. Visit www.watoga.com or call 304-799-4087.
Twelve parks feature cabins that are open for winter rentals. Other popular cabin parks include Beech Fork near Huntington and Lost River in Hardy County.
Travelers looking for a change of scenery will discover West Virginia’s state parks and forests are special places, open and continuing to provide affordable accommodations, events, recreation and most important, a good experience regardless of the season.
Visit www.wvstateparks.com for more information or call for a state park guide at 304-558-2764.
Logo courtesy West Virginia Division of Natural Resources