West Virginia is full of beautiful places, no matter the season. But in the late spring, you’re in for a special treat. The snow has melted, and warmer temperatures arrive. Plus, the mountainsides erupt in wildflowers. During late April and May, you can find great places to see the flowers in natural areas across the state. Here are the seven best places to check out.
In the heart of Canaan Valley in the high Allegheny Mountain plateau, you can find great outdoor experiences year-round. In the spring and early summer, Canaan Valley Resort State Park is a perfect spot to see wildflowers. Along the 18 miles (29 kilometers) of trails, you’ll see unique flowers and plant life a little later than the surrounding areas because of the colder climate in the valley. Once you’re done with your wildflower wandering, the nearby towns of Thomas and Davis have great breweries, restaurants, and coffee shops to check out.
At the edge of Canaan Valley in the Monongahela National Forest is the Dolly Sods Wilderness area, known for expansive land where you can hike on 47 miles (76 kilometers) of trails and back-country camp. In the spring when the wildflower viewing is best, many of the trails are still muddy, and the weather can change rapidly. So, make sure you have adequate footwear and clothing for the hike. But no matter the weather, the views of beautiful forests and mountains will take your breath away.
Near Canaan Valley and Dolly Sods is Blackwater Falls State Park. The huge waterfall in the park is worth seeing any time of year, but if you come in the late spring, you’ll see lots of blooming rhododendrons on the trails. Every year in May, the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources also hosts the West Virginia Wildflower Pilgrimage, which offers two days of guided tours through area parks, the wildlife refuge, and the national forest. There are lots of tours and walks to choose from, and some are specially designed to be family- and kid-friendly.
The New River Gorge National River Area has miles of trails for hiking and biking that are great any time of year. In the spring, you can visit during the Wildflower Weekend, which features ranger-guided hikes along the river, as well as at five nearby state parks. All of the events are free and family-friendly, and some combine art and hiking for a unique way to experience wildflowers.
The Oglebay Resort and Conference Center in Wheeling, West Virginia, is on the former estate of Earl W. Oglebay, a developer of iron mines in Wisconsin and Michigan. Today, the sprawling resort includes the Schrader Environmental Education Center, which has a wildflower and butterfly garden, along with nature classes for kids and adults.