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While much of the Monongahela National Forest Destination is contained within West Virginia, it also includes a portion of Ohio to the west and Virginia to the South. The main draw to the destination is Monongahela National Forest, hence the destination’s name. Originally established in 1920 following the Weeks Act being passed into law, the forest has a number of natural features and activities that tourists can participate in. These include fishing, hunting, camping, and hiking, as well as visiting landmarks such as Spruce Knob, Seneca Rocks, Smoke Hill Canyon, and the Falls of Hills Creek, among others. A number of animals can be found within the park, namely 72 species of mammals, 39 species of reptiles, and 352 species of birds. Some may encounter West Virginia's state animal, the black bear, although the population is relatively small as it was recently removed from the endangered species list. While the best time of year to visit is generally from April through September due to warmer temperatures, skiing and snowboarding are available at Snowshoe Mountain, a ski resort situated atop Cheat Mountain in the Monongahela National Forest. Other notable towns include Elkins, West Virginia, where the forest’s main headquarters are located; Jackson, Ohio; Hot Springs, Virginia; and Snowshoe, West Virginia, home of the previously mentioned ski resort.
Typically one of the most common attractions that guests will visit in the Monongahela National Forest Destination is Monongahela National Forest, the namesake of the destination. The forest encompasses about a million acres of land and has trails leading to a number of notable geographic features. One of these is Spruce Knob, which is the highest point in the state of West Virginia, where the park is located. It reaches a height of 4,863 feet and has a lookout tower offering vistas of the surrounding landscape. Seneca Rocks, another draw to the park, is “one of the most popular rock climbing destinations on the East Coast,” according to the West Virginia Department of Tourism’s website. Those who would rather hike around the mountain can do so on a 1.5-mile trail leading to the summit.
Cheat Mountain, one of the many peaks in the Monongahela National Forest, is also the location of Snowshoe Mountain, a ski resort situated near its peak. There are a number of activities offered at the resort throughout the year, with skiing, snowboarding, and other similar winter sports being available and popular during winter months. On average, about 480,000 people visit the resort each year to ski. As for the summer season, tourists can ride bikes on several mountain biking trails, play rounds of golf at the resort’s golf course, and host weddings or other similar events.
While no major cities are located in the Monongahela National Forest Destination, the forest’s headquarters offices are located within the town of Elkins, West Virginia. The destination slightly crosses state lines, with Jackson, Ohio, being the largest city near the western border, and Hot Springs, Virginia, being the most notable location near the southern border. Most of the region, by and large, is contained within the center of West Virginia. What typically draws tourists to the area are nature-oriented activities and outdoor recreation. Other attractions have piqued the interest of visitors as well, such as the Adaland Mansion, which is a historic house that has been turned into a mansion, and Elkins Raceway, where spectators can watch various forms of racing on a dirt track. Apart from the national forest, other natural features that people may consider visiting are Arden Falls, Tygart Lake State Park, and North Bend State Park, among others.
Much of the area that the Monongahela National Forest Destination covers is contained within West Virginia; however, small parts of Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia are also included. Its borders comprise Huntington to the west, along with Monongahela National Forest and George Washington & Jefferson National Forest to the east. Rolling hills are typical for the destination’s geography, with the largest hills and mountains located in the southeast portion, including the western region of the Ridge-and-valley Appalachians. The Ohio River runs along the border of Ohio and West Virginia on the destination’s west side. Most of the space between villages, towns, and cities is occupied by forests and animals.
In total, there are 72 species of mammals, 39 species of reptiles, and 352 species of birds that live in West Virginia. Of those birds, 65 of the species are among the rarest bird species in the world. The official animal of the state of West Virginia is the black bear, which earned the status in 1973 as the species was considered endangered. More recently, the black bear population has risen above the threshold to be considered endangered. Other notable endangered species in the region include ruffed grouse, cougars, and the monarch butterfly. Monongahela National Forest is also classified as “one of the largest hardwood tree preserves in the U.S.,” specifically containing species of oak, yellow poplar, and maple.
It is generally recommended that people desiring warmer weather visit the region between April and September. June, July, and August see the highest average temperatures, usually hovering around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This time of year also has the highest chance for rain, with the driest months of the year being September through November. Tourism for the Monongahela National Forest Destination is highest in May, mainly for the reasons listed above. With that being said, snow typically falls between October and February, which is a draw for some visitors looking to visit Snowshoe Mountain for skiing or snowboarding.
At the beginning of the 20th century, an act was passed by the United States government called the Weeks Act. It enabled the government to buy land for resource management purposes and to conserve forests after a large portion of forests in the eastern United States had been harvested for wood. The government purchased the area now known as the Monongahela National Forest on April 28, 1920. One of the most notable points in the forest’s history was when it was used in the latter part of World War II as a training ground for the U.S. Army. Portions of the forest were designated as artillery and mortar practice areas, and some of the cliffs, including Seneca Rocks, were used as the military’s only low-altitude climbing school.
The closest village to Monongahela National Forest, Snowshoe, was officially opened as a skiing destination on December 13, 1974. Originally started by Thomas “Doc” Brigham, he thought the spot would be a good location for skiing. Prior to this, the region simply served as a logging forest until 1960. The resort in Snowshoe has been under the ownership of several people over the years, with many of the companies who purchased it adding to the existing infrastructure. Some of these additions included condominium buildings, a new lodge, and, more recently additional communities and neighborhoods in the surrounding area.
Just Plane Adventures
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