4 historical state parks to help you get ready for 4th of July

The 4th of July is a great time to slow down and remember our nation’s history and all of the people who made sacrifices for the freedoms and comforts we enjoy today. If you’re looking for a place to visit to celebrate America’s founding or have an interest in our state and country’s past, West Virginia has several state parks where significant moments in history happened.

Here are four state parks worth visiting this 4th of July and a few honorable mentions to visit if you’re in the area. And the best part about these state parks is that you don’t have to miss your family cookout or community’s parade and fireworks display to visit one of them. Find one close to you and start planning your trip today!

Berkeley Springs

Located in the center of the historic town of Berkeley Springs, Berkeley Springs State Park is known for being home to America’s first spa, which has been in use since colonial times. The park’s warm spring water was discovered by Native Americans, who traveled from as far away as Canada to soak in the healing mineral waters. But the area’s most famous visitor was a young George Washington. Today, visitors can view a stone bathtub modeled after the one Washington soaked in while visiting the area in 1748.

While Berkeley Springs is full of history, the park also is a great place to relax and unwind. The park’s Old Roman and Main bathhouses offer a wide selection of spa services, including massages, saunas, baths and showers. To see a full list of spa services and how to reserve your treatment or services, click here. If you need overnight accommodations, stay at nearby Cacapon Resort State Park, which also has spa services.

Blennerhassett Island

Located in the middle of the Ohio River, Blennerhassett Island Historical State Park is a magical place where history comes to life. Here, you can tour palatial mansion halls that rival George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate. The park’s famous mansion, a replica of the Harman and Margaret Blennerhassett estate, is linked to one of America’s darkest chapters in history. In 1805, the Blennerhassetts allowed their mansion to serve as headquarters for Aaron Burr’s military expedition to the Southwest, which became linked to a treasonous plot to create a new country independent of the United States. The Blennerhassetts fled when Burr’s scheme collapsed.

Spend the day at Blennerhassett Island or make this park a stop on your spring or summer tour of West Virginia’s beautiful mid-Ohio valley. If you need a place to stay the night, check out the lodge at North Bend State Park.

Cass Scenic Railroad

When you visit Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, you’re taking a trip back to an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. While this park doesn’t have direct ties to America’s founding, it’s still filled with rich history that will help you appreciate how far our country has come. And let’s not forget the unparalleled views of West Virginia’s mountain beauty!

As you learn about Cass, which was a lumbering town back in the day, you’ll also have the chance to enjoy breathtaking views on your train ride up to Bald Knob, the third highest point in West Virginia. To purchase tickets and view a ride schedule, visit mountainrailwv.com. If you want to stay for the night, Cass has several restored company houses that capture the charm of the historic town.

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield

Set on the rim of the Gauley River Canyon, the 156-acre Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park is the site of the 1861 Battle of Carnifex Ferry, a major Union victory that led to the eventual Confederate withdrawal from western Virginia. Carnifex Ferry is one of the oldest state parks in the United States and a popular site for Civil War reenactments.

Today, the park is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail, which links more than 300 battlefields, historic homes, railroad stations, cemeteries, parks and other destinations in 16 states. Carnifex Ferry is a popular destination, not only for its historic significance, but also for its proximity to the Gauley River and New River Gorge. If you need a place to spend the night, book a lodge room at Hawks Nest State Park.

Honorable Mentions

Many other state parks have historical significance, so if you’re looking for even more places to visit or if you’re in the area, here are a few more parks to check out during the 4th of July weekend.

Droop Mountain Battlefield
Like Carnifex Ferry, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail. Located in the Greenbrier River Valley north of Lewisburg, this park is West Virginia’s first state park and known for its reenactments of the Battle of Droop Mountain, the last major American Civil War conflict in West Virginia. Nearby state parks and forests include Beartown, Calvin Price and Watoga.

Fairfax Stone
Named after a surveyor’s marker and boundary stone used in the 1700s to settle a dispute over land in the English colonies of Maryland and Virginia, Fairfax Stone State Park is one of West Virginia’s smallest state parks. Over the years, the stone has been changed out for various reasons. The current Fairfax Stone, the fifth, was dedicated as a state historic monument and became part of the West Virginia State Park system in 1957 when the Western Maryland Railroad gave the state four acres of land surrounding the stone. In 1970, the stone was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearby state parks include Blackwater Falls, Canaan Valley Resort and Cathedral.

Prickett’s Fort
Located five miles north of Fairmont, Prickett’s Fort State Park features a reconstructed colonial-era fort. This day-use park is open mid-April through the end of October and commemorates late 18th-century life on what was the then-Virginia frontier. The park is open to the public, but some attractions, such as the fort, have an admission fee. Nearby state parks and forests include Coopers Rock, Tygart Lake and Valley Falls.

Located at the confluence of the Kanawha and Ohio rivers in Point Pleasant, Tu-Endie-Wei State Park is home to an 84-foot granite monument commemorating the frontiersmen who fought and died in the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant. The name Tu-Endie-Wei is a Wyandotte word meaning “point between two waters.” The park’s Mansion House and facilities are open May 1 through the first weekend of October.

Watters Smith Memorial
The heritage of early West Virginia and the pioneer spirit of Watters Smith are both preserved in the homestead restoration at this 532-acre park. Watters Smith Memorial State Park, located in Harrison County, features period-accurate farm buildings and a museum that depicts pioneer life. The park is open to picnicking and hiking and the museum and Smith Home are open on select days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Nearby state parks and forests include Audra and Stonewall Resort.

Plan Your Trip Today

Celebrate the 4th of July with a road trip to one of these historical state parks. Plan your trip today!

Book Now