Hear about travel to southern West Virginia as the Amateur Traveler talks to Ethan Starcher from WaywardWings.net about his home state.
Ethan says, “West Virginia is a quiet state. Up until recently, it has thrived off of an economy of natural resources, not so much tourism. But, despite that, it has incredible natural beauty and some of the best state parks that you will find almost anywhere that I have been.”
We start in the southern part of the state near Fayetteville and move in a northeasterly fashion. Fayetteville is an hour and a half from the state capital in Charleston. Fayetteville is best known for the New River Gorge Bridge which was once the largest single-span arch bridge over a river with some decent white water. The bridge is what is featured on the West Virginia state quarter. In addition to rafting (in the fall), Ethan also recommends a bridge walk where you cross on catwalks under the bridge. You can come the one day a year (October), Bridge Day, when people are Bungie jumping or base jumping off the bridge. You can take a tram ride down to the river.
Babcock State Park includes a much-photographed grist mill which is featured on numerous calendars as well as this episode’s artwork.
We head to Lewisburg which is in the Greenbrier Valley. The area is known for Greenbrier Resort which has a cold war bunker under it. The resort hosts a Masters golf tournament annually. Lost World Caverns and Organ Cave are both in the area and worth a visit. Ethan recommends a float trip on the Greenbrier River. Watoga State Park, just north of Lewisburg, is a great base for a float trip.
Northeast from Lewisburg is the Highland Scenic Highway which is 25-mile scenic drive with some of the “best views in the state”. It overlooks Spruce Nob which is the tallest spot in the state.
On the eastern edge of West Virginia (and the western part of Virginia) is the United States National Radio Quiet Zone which surrounds the Green Bank Observatory and its radio telescope. Make sure you have your podcasts downloaded before you drive here.
In Cass Scenic Railroad State Park you can ride the old steam logging train 2.5 hours to the top of Bald Knob. The whole way there are “stunning views of the Allegany Highlands”. You can stay in one of the old company-town houses in Cass.
You can climb or view Seneca Rocks on the way to Blackwater Falls State Park which has a couple of waterfalls.
Along the way, Ethan points out where you should go for a good craft beer, artisan pizza, biscuits, sandwiches and more.
Let’s see if Ethan can put the state of West Virginia on your todo list.
right click here to download (mp3)
New River Gorge Bridge
New River Gorge Bridge – New River Gorge National River (U.S. National Park Service)
Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Gauley River National Recreation Area
Hawks Nest State Park – West Virginia State Parks
Pies & Pints – Fayetteville
Secret Sandwich Society
Tudor’s Biscuit World
Adventures on the Gorge
Babcock State Park
Lewisburg, West Virginia
Food & Friends
Lost World Caverns
Watoga State Park
Highland Scenic Highway
United States National Radio Quiet Zone
Green Bank Observatory
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park
Cass, West Virginia
Blackwater Falls State Park
Endless Wall Trail
I have been listening to your show for four years now, and it inspires me to reach new destinations, help me plan what to see and do on multiple trips, and bring the world to me. Thanks for all you do, and it’s my pleasure to support the show and your work.
Loved your latest episode about Kilimanjaro. I am planning to climb next year.
Steve on Arizona National Parks – Episode 700:
Congratulations on Episode 700. I hope there are many more.
I was great to hear Gary talk about the Monuments in Arizona. Growing up in Southern California, we spent many years driving to Arizona and exploring the deserts and monuments.
I’ve even driven across the snow on Memorial Day weekend and then walked down into Havasupai and it was beautiful on the bottom.
Amateur Traveler trip in September 2020 to Turkey
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Amateur Traveler trip to Turkey in September 2020