You have to go to West Virginia if you enjoy road trips and seeing the natural beauty of the United States. This mountainous state is tiny yet filled with stunning landscapes, picturesque villages, and gorgeous highways. West Virginia offers everything from winding mountain roads to historic covered bridges and everything in between. In the past, we covered how you can go exploring North Virginia by bike. In this blog, we will highlight five of the most gorgeous road trips West Virginia offers and encourage you to take one of them.
#1: The Highland Scenic Highway
The Highland Scenic Highway is a route that passes through the center of the Monongahela National Forest. This route is renowned for its awe-inspiring beauty and stunning drives worldwide. The journey is 43 miles long, starting in Richwood and finishing in the Marlinton neighborhood. The path leads you through some of the most beautiful parts of the state, including locations characterized by undulating hills, lush woods, and breathtaking mountain panoramas.
Several picturesque viewpoints are available throughout the road. You may pull over at any of them to take in the scenery. The Bear Heaven Overlook provides visitors with a breathtaking vista of the surrounding woods and is by far the most well-known. Another location that one should visit is the Cranberry Glades Botanical Area. This area has a distinct ecology, including bogs, marshes, and other wetland habitats. Along with being a scenic drive, the Highland Scenic Highway is also a well-known location for outdoor activities like hiking, bicycling, and camping. There are various trails and campgrounds placed along the road.
Watch this video by Cody Carr to get a glimpse:
My personal experience driving the Highland Scenic Highway:
Driving in The Highland Scenic Highway was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The road was winding and scenic, offering breathtaking views of the mountains, forests, and valleys. I felt like I was in a different world, surrounded by nature and beauty. The highway had several overlooks and picnic areas where I could stop and admire the scenery, take photos, or have a snack. I also enjoyed seeing the wildlife, such as deer, birds, and squirrels, along the way. The drive was relaxing and exhilarating at the same time, and I would love to do it again someday.
#2: The Midland Trail
The Midland Trail is a beautiful byway in West Virginia that spans 180 miles and passes through the center of the state’s many small communities and historic sites. White Sulphur Springs is the starting point, while Kenova is the final destination along this route, which follows US Route 60. You’ll go through numerous quaint towns on the route, including Lewisburg, Hinton, and Charleston.
The Midland route is also home to several historically significant sites, such as the Greenbrier River Trail, a picturesque route for bicycling and hiking over an abandoned railway line. In addition, you will cross several historic bridges, including the New River Gorge Bridge, one of the longest steel arch bridges you can find in the western hemisphere. In addition, the Midland Trail is home to several historic sites. One is the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine, a former coal mine that conducts tours underground.
My personal experience driving the Midland Trail:
Driving The Midland Trail was a fun and educational adventure. The road was historic and diverse, offering a glimpse of the past and present of western Virginia. I learned about the history and culture of the region, from the Native Americans and pioneers to the coal miners and artisans. The trail had many attractions and landmarks, such as museums, monuments, bridges, and parks. I also enjoyed the natural beauty of the landscape, with its rolling hills, rivers, and forests. The drive was entertaining and informative, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves history and nature.
Watch this awesome video by RubberDuck to get a glimpse of the trail:
#3: The Coal Heritage Trail
The Coal Heritage Trail is a road trip that spans 97 miles and brings travelers to the helm of the coal mining area in West Virginia. The journey starts in Bluefield and finishes in Welch, following US Route 52. Along the route, you will go through several ancient mining towns, some of which include Bramwell and Mullens. You will discover several beautiful houses in Bramwell and the famous Ritz Theatre in Mullens.
In addition, the Coal Heritage Trail is home to several museums and other attractions that provide insight into the extensive mining history of the state. Underground tours of a real coal mine are available at one of these attractions called the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine in Beckley, West Virginia. Another one of Williamson’s attractions that is one of a kind is the Coal House, and its make is entirely coal.
My personal experience driving the Coal Heritage Trail:
Driving The Coal Heritage Trail was a fascinating and eye-opening journey. The road was rich and complex, offering a deeper understanding of the coal industry and its impact on western Virginia. I explored the heritage and legacy of the coal miners and their communities, from the hardships and struggles to the achievements and innovations. The trail had many sites and stories, such as mines, towns, railroads, and memorials. I also appreciated the diversity and resilience of the people, who have preserved their traditions and values despite the changes and challenges. The drive was inspiring and enlightening, and I would encourage anyone interested in coal history and culture to try it.
Watch this video by RVerTV to get a glimpse of the trail:
#4: The New River Gorge Loop
The New River Gorge Loop is a beautiful journey that takes around three hours and takes you past some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in West Virginia. The journey has a total distance of roughly 83 miles and starts and finishes in Fayetteville. You will travel through quaint villages, ancient bridges, and down winding mountain roads as you travel to your destination.
Watch this video to get a glimpse of the New River Gorge National Park:
The New River Gorge Bridge is the most impressive structure along the New River Gorge Loop. It has a record for being the longest steel arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere. It provides travelers with breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding landscape. The Thurmond Depot, a former railroad station, has been transformed into a magnificent museum and tourist center with rich history and cultural significance. Its captivating charm and appeal make it a must-visit destination for travelers and history enthusiasts alike.
My personal experience driving the New River Gorge Loop:
Driving The River Gorge Loop was a thrilling experience. The road was curvy and scenic, offering stunning views of the river, cliffs, and waterfalls. I felt like I was on a roller coaster, with twists and turns and ups and downs. The loop had several opportunities for outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, rafting, and fishing. I also loved seeing the wildlife, such as eagles, bears, and otters, along the way. The drive was exciting and adventurous, and I would do it again if I had the chance.
#5: The Country Roads Byway
The Country Roads Byway is a beautiful journey that spans 180 miles and takes you through some of the best parts of West Virginia’s countryside. The journey starts in Winchester, located in Virginia, and concludes in Charleston, West Virginia. You’ll go through several quaint little towns and rural areas as you go down the route.
The charming hamlet of Lewisburg is the focal point of the Country Roads Byway. Lewisburg is home to several historic structures, including the Greenbrier Valley Theatre and the Carnegie Hall. Seneca Rocks, a breathtaking rock structure that towers 900 feet above the surrounding environment, is another destination on the journey. Rock climbing, hiking, and other outdoor activities are popular in this region.
Watch this video to get a glimpse of Charleston:
In addition, the Country Roads Byway is home to several historic sites, including the Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, the location of a fight during the American Civil War. This route takes you past several state parks, including Watoga State Park and Babcock State Park, which provide opportunities for activities like hiking, fishing, and other pursuits in the great outdoors.
My personal experience driving the Country Roads Byway:
Driving The Country Roads Byway was a relaxing and enjoyable experience. The road was peaceful and charming, offering a glimpse of the rural life and scenery of western Virginia. I felt like I was in a country song, with farms, barns, and covered bridges. The byway had several places to visit and explore, such as orchards, wineries, historic sites, and antique shops. I also liked meeting the friendly and hospitable locals, who welcomed me with smiles and stories. The drive was calming and pleasant, and I would love to do it again someday.
West Virginia is a must-see destination for those who like taking scenic drives. This state boasts natural beauty, charming villages, and a rich historical heritage. It’s worth visiting. There is something for everyone on West Virginia’s beautiful routes, whether you’re looking for breathtaking views of the mountains, ancient coal mining towns, or attractive farmland. These drives, ranging from the Highland Scenic Highway to the Country Roads Byway, take travelers through some of the most stunning landscapes the United States offers. Along the route, you will come across unique sights, historic places, and welcoming residents ready to share their enthusiasm for the Mountain State. So, pack up your belongings and hit the road to witness the breathtaking natural beauty of West Virginia firsthand. With incredible sights and activities to explore, you will surely make unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. And still, if you get into trouble, ensure you have a legal backup ready to safeguard your family and mates.
“The Jaded Traveler”. Ron Rossi was born and raised in New York. A globalist at heart, Ron is a marketing director by trade, and has lived and worked around the world including Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. Food is one of the best ways to learn about a country, a people and a culture. So, Ron is always looking for the best in mid-range to budget and street food. He is always on the hunt for a good meal anyone can afford. It is the food of the average citizen that excites him. And with having visited close to 100 countries on 6 continents so far, there have been some pretty good meals.