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West Virginia

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Travel Guide North America USA Southern United States West Virginia

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Introduction

West Virginia Forest Road

West Virginia Forest Road

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West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States.

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Geography

Located in the Appalachian Mountain range, West Virginia covers an area of 62,754.8 km2, with 62,361.0 km2 of land and 393.8 km2 of water, making it the 41st-largest state in the United States. West Virginia borders Pennsylvania and Maryland in the northeast, Virginia in the southeast, Ohio in the northwest, and Kentucky in the southwest. West Virginia is located entirely within the Appalachian Region, and the state is almost entirely mountainous, giving reason to the nickname The Mountain State. The elevations and ruggedness drop near large rivers like the Ohio River or Shenandoah River. About 75% of the state is within the Cumberland Plateau and Allegheny Plateau regions. Though the relief is not high, the plateau region is extremely rugged in most areas. The average elevation of West Virginia is approximately 460 metres above sea level, which is the highest of any US state east of the Mississippi River. On the eastern state line with Virginia, high peaks in the Monongahela National Forest region give rise to an island of colder climate and ecosystems similar to those of northern New England and eastern Canada. The highest point in the state is atop Spruce Knob, at 1,482 metres, and is covered in a boreal forest of dense spruce trees at altitudes above 1,200 metres. Spruce Knob lies within the Monongahela National Forest and is a part of the Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area. A total of six wilderness areas can also be found within the forest. Outside the forest to the south, the New River Gorge is a canyon 300 metres deep, carved by the New River. The National Park Service manages a portion of the gorge and river that has been designated as the New River Gorge National River, one of only 15 rivers in the U.S. with this level of protection.

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Cities

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Sights and Activities

West Virginia's Motto is 'Wild and Wonderful'. There are tons of wonderful things to do here. Seneca Rocks is one of the foundations of Rock Climbing in America. The New River Gorge is one of the oldest rivers in North America. The white water rafting in the Gorge is one of the best in the world. In fact in October during the Gauley River release, the Gauley River becomes the number one technical river the world. Other then white water rafting there is beautiful scenic hikes, mountain biking and world class rock climbing. In the winter there is skiing at Snowshoe Mountain and Canaan Valley. Located in Green Bank is a radio telescope by the only 100 square mile radio silent zone in America. This zone was setup in the 1960s so that they could do radio astronomy in the area.

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Weather

The climate of West Virginia is a humid subtropical climate in some of the lower elevations, primarily in the southwestern portion of the state, along with parts of the Eastern Panhandle east of the Appalachians with hot, humid summers and milder winters. The rest of the state generally has a humid continental climate with warm to hot, humid summers and cool to cold winters, increasing in severity with elevation. Average January temperatures range from around -4 °C near the Cheat River to 5 °C along sections of the border with Kentucky. July averages range from 19 °C along the North Branch Potomac River to 24 °C in the western part of the state. It is cooler in the mountains than in the lower sections of the state. The highest recorded temperature in the state is 44 °C at Martinsburg on July 10, 1936 and the lowest recorded temperature in the state is -38 °C at Lewisburg on December 30, 1917.
Annual precipitation ranges from less than 81 centimetres in the lower eastern section to more than 140 centimetres in higher parts of the Allegheny Front. Slightly more than half the rainfall occurs from April to September. Dense fogs are common in many valleys of the Kanawha section, especially the Tygart Valley. West Virginia is also one of the cloudiest states in the nation, and West Virginia also experiences some of the most frequent precipitation in the nation, with Snowshoe averaging nearly 200 days a year with either rain or snow. An average of 86 centimetres of snow falls annually in Charleston. Average snowfall in the Allegheny Highlands can range up to 460 centimetres per year. Severe weather is somewhat less prevalent in West Virginia than in most other eastern states, and it ranks among the least tornado-prone states east of the Rockies.

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Getting There

By Plane

Yeager Airport () near Charleston has flights to/from New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Myrtle Beach, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Houston and Charlotte.

By Train

Two trains, operated by Amtrak, travel to and from the state of West Virginia.

  • The Capitol Limited operates between Washington DC and Chicago, stopping in Harpers Ferry and Martinsburg, West Virginia.
  • The Cardinal/Hoosier State travels between New York and Chicago, stopping in a number of places in the state.

By Bus

Check Greyhound buses for options.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

West Virginia has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.

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Sleep

Hotel and Motel Chains

There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:

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References

  1. 1 Mid-2008 estimate, U.S. Census Bureau

Quick Facts

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Capital
Charleston
Population
1,814,468[1]

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This is version 11. Last edited at 10:16 on Jan 8, 13 by Utrecht. 11 articles link to this page.

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