Slow down and recapture your sense of awe and wonder at these state parks and forests

Everyone these days seems to be focused on buying the latest and greatest or biggest and fastest thing. Clothes, phones, cars, houses, you name it. How can you enjoy life if you’re constantly moving on to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing?

Do you feel like you’re in a race to keep up with the rest of the world? Do you feel like you have don’t have any breathing room to enjoy simple things like how a warm sweater feels against your skin or how the smartphone in your hand enables you to express your creativity? Do you feel like the hustle and bustle keeps you so busy that you often forget to express gratitude for life-improving conveniences, like how automobiles open up a world of opportunity or how a roof over your head provides comfort and security?

Just breathe. Slow down and actually breathe.

Slowing down let’s you see the world around you

When you slow down, you resist the temptation to rush through life and give yourself the mental space you need to experience awe and wonder at the world around you. But slowing down is easier said than done, especially when you’re surrounded by distractions or have a million responsibilities around the house. That’s where a vacation, weekend getaway or day trip spent in nature can help.

When it comes to slowing down and spending time in nature, there’s no place quite like West Virginia. Our beautiful state, with its majestic mountains and awe-inspiring views, is called #AlmostHeaven for a reason. While there are plenty of places to visit in West Virginia, here are five state parks and forests where you can really slow down and recapture your sense of awe and wonder.

Cathedral State Park

Cathedral State Park is a natural sanctuary for West Virginia’s only remaining stand of virgin hemlock. This park’s canopy of towering hemlocks and hardwoods forms a cathedral-like ceiling. Stand in their midst for even a minute and breathe in fresh air and you’ll find yourself connecting to nature in whole new ways. The oldest hemlock in the park, which is estimated to be about 500 years old, is 123 feet tall and 20 feet around at the base. Your eyes will be drawn skyward during your visit, but don’t forget to look down and around. Cathedral is home to 170 species of trees, ferns and wildflowers.

Kumbrabow State Forest

Part of the appeal of Kumbrabow State Forest is its rustic vibe. The historic cabins, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, don’t have electricity or running water, but you won’t miss them. The picturesque setting and tranquil rippling of Mill Creek provides all the peace and comfort you need. Set on top of Rich Mountain, at 3,000 feet above sea level, Kumbrabow is West Virginia’s highest state forest. Its remote location makes it easy for you to forget your troubles and enjoy a leisurely day or two hiking in the woods or fishing for brook trout. Don’t forget your fishing license!

Audra State Park

Audra State Park has long been a favorite camping spot for many folks and it’s easy to see why. The clear, clean water of the Middle Fork River and the rock overhang of the Alum Cave offer picture-perfect backdrops for all kinds of outdoor adventure and relaxation. The park even has an old-fashioned swimming hole right on the river where you can cool off after a day of exploring. Escape the hectic pace of daily life and spend a few days communing with nature in this gem of the woods.

Beartown State Park

One of the state’s most majestic discoveries lies on the eastern summit of Droop Mountain, where towering rock formations create a maze for visitors to walk through. The aerial view is reminiscent of the streets of a small town, which is how Beartown State Park got its name. A half-mile boardwalk features informational markers detailing the geological processes that led to the creation of this ancient natural wonder area. 

Blackwater Falls State Park

There’s no doubt Blackwater Falls State Park can claim the title of most majestic waterfall in the state. That’s why the roaring 62-foot falls is on many travel bucket lists. If it’s not on your’s, it should be! While Blackwater Falls is a sight to behold, don’t miss this park’s other amazing views. There’s the smaller but equally beautiful Elakala Falls and the stunning Lindy Point overlook of the Blackwater River Canyon. Shaded trails winding through hemlock and spruce trees provide a cool respite from summer’s heat. 

Plan your trip today

Travel seasons come and go, but the best thing about state parks and forests is that they’ll always be here for you to enjoy. Whether you want to plan a vacation, weekend getaway or day trip, make plans to visit one of West Virginia’s majestic state parks and forests this summer.

Book your trip today!

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