Legend has it that Canaan Valley gets its name from an early fur trader who arrived in the valley in the 1700s and declared “Behold, the land of Canaan”, comparing the area to the biblical promised land. Many early visitors had the opposite opinion, however, in 1853, Harper’s Monthly Magazine described the area as “filled […]
West Virginia's state parks are beloved by tourists and locals alike. Over 7 million people visit West Virginia's state parks every year, and that number is growing. Visitors use parks for hiking, biking, camping, boating, fishing, wildlife viewing and more. Scattered across the state, parks showcase a wide variety of ecosystem types, scenic views, and outdoor recreation options.
Parks are also great for West Virginia's economy. In 2015, the economic significance of state parks was between $213.4 million and $248.7 million. Every $1 of general revenue invested parks generates $13.15 in economic activity.
Many of our parks have a backlog of maintenance issues, and need additional investment to continue to be an asset to locals and visitors alike. Friends of Blackwater is working to raise awareness of this issue, and we will be bringing you opportunities to advocate for the park system. In the meantime, learn a little more about our parks with the blog posts below or take our state park survey.
The name Cacapon is thought to be derived from a Shawnee word meaning “medicine waters”, which referred to the Cacapon River. The area that became Cacapon was logged and converted to small farms early in its history, but by the early 1930s, these “truck farms” were no longer economically viable and families were selling the […]
Bluestone State Park is home to Bluestone Lake, the third largest body of water in the state. The huge lake is formed by a dam on the New River, which was built in the 1940s. Construction was begun in 1942, but suspended during World War II, so it wasn’t finished until 1948. Almost immediately people […]
Blackwater Falls State Park is one of the most iconic and frequently photographed parks in West Virginia, attracting over 850,000 visitors a year. The first written record we have of the Blackwater River watershed dates from 1746, when a survey party attempted to plot a straight route from the headwaters of the Rappahannock to the […]
Visitors have flocked to Berkeley Springs for hundreds of years, beginning long before it became an official state park. Native Americans were likely the first to use the spring, which flows out of the ground at a constant temperature of 73 degrees and was thought to have heal ailments like arthritis and rheumatism. White settlers […]
Beartown’s defining feature is its unique rock formations, including deep crevices, huge boulders and overhanging cliffs, which are accessed via a boardwalk. According to locals, bears used the rocks as winter dens, inspiring the parks name. The rock formations in the park are sandstone, which is easily eroded, and water continues to slowly reshape the […]
In 1900 there was a town, also called Audra, on the site of Audra State Park. The small town consisted of only 5 houses, 2 stores, a blacksmith shop, a gristmill and a post office. Timbering was conducted in the area, which before becoming state land mostly belonged to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and […]
Cathedral State Park, located in Preston County, is home to the largest documented stand of virgin timber remaining in West Virginia. Although the park is relatively small (only 133 acres), the trees there reach as much as 90 feet tall and 16 feet in circumference. Some of the trees in Cathedral are over 400 years […]
Beech Fork State Park, located in the south of the state, covers 3,144 acres in Cabell and Wayne Counties. Its most notable feature is a 720 acre lake, which was created by the Army Corp of Engineers in the 1970s and is now used for fishing and boating. The park officially opened in 1979, and […]
Babcock State Park, located in Fayette County, was one of the first state parks to be created in West Virginia. The bulk of the land was deeded to the state of West Virginia in 1934, for only $2 an acre. The land had already been timbered at that point, and was considered to be near […]
This past spring, citizens made clear that commercial timbering in state parks was not an acceptable solution for the parks’ maintenance backlog. Now, with a new legislative session on the horizon, people are thinking about alternative funding sources that could be used to preempt any more bad ideas from the legislature. Recently, Robert Beanblossom, who […]
We got some good news this week, as both of West Virginia’s Senators expressed their support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF supports outdoor recreation and conservation programs around the country, including millions of dollars for projects right here in West Virginia. Both Blackwater Falls State Park and Canaan Valley State […]