Can you feel the morning chill in the air? Summer is nearing its end, and nature will soon show off its beautiful fall colors. While there still are a few weeks left of warm weather, now is the time to plan a fall foliage and leaf peeping tour of West Virginia’s State Parks.
You can enjoy fall colors anywhere, but West Virginia State Parks offer some of the Mountain State’s best locations to see autumn’s beauty. Whatever you do, don’t miss your chance to take in autumn’s splendor. Now is the time to book your stay at a West Virginia State Park lodge or cabin. Accommodations book quickly this time of year. Here are five popular state parks you should consider visiting this fall.
Blackwater Falls State Park
No fall foliage list would be complete without mention of Blackwater Falls State Park. Because of its high elevation where leaves change color first, Blackwater Falls State Park is a leaf peeping destination you don’t want to pass up. With breathtaking views of the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County, waterfalls and overlooks, Blackwater Falls is one of the most photographed places in West Virginia. Add a background of beautiful autumn hues, and it becomes even more breathtaking.
The last week of September and first week of October are typically the best times to visit this park. Pick a weekend, and plan to stay in the Blackwater Lodge, which sits on the Blackwater Canyon’s south rim and provides a sweeping view of the densely forested gorge below.
Cass Scenic Railroad Historical State Park
If you can’t make it to Blackwater Falls, but still want to be one of the first to see autumn arrive, then head to Cass Scenic Railroad Historical State Park. Leaves in this portion of the state will turn the last week of September or first of October
For a unique leaf peeping experience, plan to take the 4.5 hour train ride to the overlook at Bald Knob, the third highest point in West Virginia. From there, you can enjoy a spectacular view from 4,700 feet above sea level. This is not the typical fall-foliage viewing experience, and a must for leaf peepers and train enthusiasts.
Babcock State Park
While West Virginia’s state parks at higher elevations will be the first to show off autumn’s brilliant display, other parks around the state will get their chance to shine later in October. Babcock State Park is another one of West Virginia’s most photographed places, and would be a perfect place to see leaves turning.
The classic shot of the working grist mill against a background of fall color is on every photographer’s shot list. The park even provides a webcam so visitors can track the leaves as they begin to change, so keep any eye out as you plan your trip. Foliage at Babcock State Park typically peaks around the second week of October.
Hawks Nest State Park
From Babcock State Park, take a short 30-minute drive north and see other classic fall foliage views at Hawks Nest State Park. From the height of the park’s scenic overlook, take in panoramic views of a rugged section of the New River Gorge National River, an American Heritage River.
Take a hike to an overlook or ride the aerial tramway for a bird’s eye view of the gorge with all the yellows, reds and oranges of fall below. Hawk’s Nest also has a lodge where you can stay the night for even more leaf peeping fun. Fall foliage at Hawks Nest State Park usually peaks the second week of October.
Pipestem Resort State Park
Head to Pipestem Resort State Park during early October to round out your fall foliage tour of West Virginia State Parks. Pipestem is a one-of-a-kind park and offers breathtaking views of the Bluestone River Gordge from above and below.
Marvel at the colors of fall lining the Bluestone River 1,200 feet below you as you stay at Pipestem’s McKeever Lodge, which sits on the east rim of the Bluestone River Gorge. Or stay in the Mountain Creek Lodge down by the Bluestone River and gaze up at the mountains above. Both lodges provide views you won’t want to miss and are sure to bring any leaf peeping tour to a remarkable close.
To round out your trip, visit www.wvstateparks.com and see what other activities parks have to offer. Fall is a special time to enjoy state parks and make memories with your friends and families. Which park will you visit?