West Virginia is the most northern of the so‑called southern states. It is bordered on the northwest by Ohio, on the north by Pennsylvania and Maryland, on the east and southeast by Maryland and Virginia and on the southwest by Virginia and Kentucky. West Virginia has a surface area of 24,282.45 square miles, ranking 41st among the states in size. The highest point in the state is Spruce Knob in Pendleton County, with an elevation of 4,861 feet and the lowest point is Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County at an elevation of 247 feet. With a mean elevation of 1,500 feet, West Virginia is the highest state east of the Mississippi River and lies wholly within the Appalachian Mountain range. Over 75% of the state’s surface is forested, and though there are no naturally occurring lakes here, manmade reservoirs are abundant.
Many of North America’s largest metropolitan centers lie within a 500-mile radius of Charleston, the state capital. In fact, West Virginia’s borders are within a day’s drive of most of the eastern United States. The unique political boundaries of West Virginia allow it to be both a northern and southern state. The northern panhandle extends further north than Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the southern boundary falls south of Richmond, Virginia.
West Virginia is located in the Eastern Standard Time Zone and observes Daylight Savings Time. A 6% sales tax is charged.
Transportation Access and Mileage
West Virginia Facts - Population, West Virginia Statehood, Floating Capitol, Capitol Facts, Battle of the Coalfields
State Facts - State facts and emblems
Civil War History - Civil War Discovery Trail
African-American Presence in West Virginia
Important Dates in West Virginia History
Famous West Virginians
Unusual Facts about the Mountain State
West Virginia State Parks System: There are over one million acres of public recreation areas in West Virginia, including 36 state parks and seven forests. The state has eight lodge and resort parks which have lodging facilities with fine dining, championship golf and convention facilities. Fourteen cabin and camping parks provide rustic to modern accommodations and facilities. The three-day use/trail parks offer picnicking, swimming, hiking, biking and horseback riding. There are 12 natural/historical parks which include significant sites around which parks have been developed. The nine different state forests have a broad mix of outdoor recreation and camping facilities. From July 1, 1993 - June 30, 1994, over nine million people visited the West Virginia State Parks system.
NATIONAL PARKS, FOREST AND RIVERS: National Parks and Forests in West Virginia include the Monongahela National Forest, 901,000 acres which offer approximately 850 miles of hiking trails including 124 miles of the Allegheny Trail. “Mon” Forest includes such wilderness and recreation areas as Cranberry Glades, Dolly Sods, Otter Creek, and Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. George Washington National Forest covers 100,000 acres in Hardy and Pendleton Counties. In Monroe County, 18,175 acres of the Jefferson National Forest encompass Potts and Peters Mountains. Flowing north from the Carolinas, the second oldest river in the world has carved a spectacular gorge through the southeastern part of the state. Fifty-three miles of the lower end of this ancient river have been designated as the New River Gorge National River Recreational Area. Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail and returns you to 1859.
WHITEWATER RAFTING: With over 2,000 miles of rivers and streams, West Virginia is recognized as a premier destination for whitewater rafting. River runners class whitewater rapids according to their difficulty, from I to VI. Novices can run I to II stretches without guides; segments classified III to V require real paddling skills and qualified leadership such as provided by professional outfitters. Class VI water poses the utmost challenge, not often attempted by even highly-skilled athletes. West Virginia now offers float trips that include no paddling and can be tailored to meet the needs and time frame of the group. Over 250,000 rafters experience the state’s whitewater rivers every year. Rafting is available on the New, Cheat, Gauley, Tygart, and Shenandoah Rivers. (See outdoor recreation:)
SKIING: West Virginia, began offering commercial skiing opportunities in 1955 and hosted approximately 670,000 skiers during the 1994 season. Both, nordic and alpine skiing is offered at a variety of properties. The season runs from Thanksgiving weekend through March or April, depending on conditions. Timberline, White Grass Touring Center, Elk River Touring Center, Canaan Valley and Snowshoe Mountain Resort are located in the Potomac Highlands. Winterplace is in the New River/Greenbrier Valley region. (See outdoor recreation)
BIKING: Over 30 biking races and special events are featured annually in West Virginia. The West Virginia Fat Tire Festival features an entire week of mountain biking fun in the Potomac Highlands. The nation’s first 24-hour relay race is the 24-Hours of Canaan held in Davis. This relay is considered the East’s most grueling test of mountain biking skill and endurance. Many of West Virginia’s ski resorts have developed their properties for mountain biking during the off season. In addition, the state’s “Rails-to-Trails” projects are developing abandoned rail corridors, two of which involve the longest trails available for mountain biking in the country. They are the Greenbrier River and North Bend Rail Trails. (See outdoor recreation)
HUNTING, FISHING, AND NON-GAME WILDLIFE: With 75% of the state forested and over 2,000 miles of rivers and streams, West Virginia easily lives up to its reputation as an outdoorsman’s paradise. Hunting, trapping and fishing activities are regulated by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Game seasons are set annually by the DNR, but typically there is a spring gobbler season, fall turkey season, fall deer seasons for both bow and gun, wild boar seasons for both bow and gun, and a late fall gun season for black bear. Catfish, musky, walleye, spotted bass and small- and largemouth bass are available for the catching. West Virginia is home to seven state and three federal fish hatcheries. The state is the site of 19 islands which are part of the Ohio River Islands Wildlife Refuge, which protects the 1,100 acres of habitat for 160 species of birds, 50 warmwater fish species, and several mammals including beaver, cottontail rabbit, mink, muskrat, opossum, raccoon, woodchuck and white-tailed deer. (See outdoor recreation )