The Mountain State

West Virginia is a land of rich heritage, unparalleled beauty and warm hospitality. West Virginia's spectacular mountains, swirling rivers, and scenic countryside offer a welcome change of pace from the rush of everyday life. Here, too, you'll find friendly cities full of fun and nightlife. From wild to mild, from five-star resorts to rustic retreats, West Virginia truly has something for everyone.
West Virginia is a border state, in many senses of the phrase - a melting pot of North and South, East and West, industrial development and agrarian lifestyles, ancient folkways and technological wonders. The centuries have brought waves of different peoples. Native Americans used these hills as a hunting ground. Antebellum spa visitors flocked to the mineral springs that still bubble in the mountains. Union and Confederate armies fought fierce battles here. A rich diversity of immigrants flowed into West Virginia to work in its oil and gas, timber, coal, railroad and glass industries. Each of these cultures influenced the people who call West Virginia home.

New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, WV.

West Virginia: A State Born From A Nation Torn
West Virginia is one of only two American states formed during the American Civil War (1861-1865), along with Nevada, and is the only state to form by seceding from a Confederate state. It was originally part of the British Virginia Colony (1607-1776) and the western part of the state of Virginia (1776-1863), whose population became sharply divided over the issue of secession from the Union and in the separation from Virginia, formalized by admittance to the Union as a new state in 1863. West Virginia was one of the Civil War Border states.

Day 1. Drive to Saulsville, WV
        (30 June 2008 Monday)
Total distance from Norfolk, MA
        to Saulsville, WV is 768 miles.
Estimated driving time of about 13 hours.
4am depart Norfolk, MA for Saulsville, WV
7pm arrive at Saulsville, WV / hotel check-in
Twin Falls Resort at Twin Falls State Park
  Route 97, Saulsville WV 25876
  Phone (304) 294-4000
  booked 3-bedroom cottage for 4 adults / 2 children
Set in the rugged mountains of Southern West Virginia, Twin Falls Resort State Park is the ideal site for nature seekers. Visitors here enjoy overnight accommodations ranging from a 20-room lodge located on the mountain top to secluded cottages and deluxe and standard campsites.
Leisure activities include sprawling 18-hole golf course, twelve scenic hiking trails, picnicking, swimming in an outdoor pool or just relaxing with a piece of history at the Pioneer Farm.
The cottages are secluded on a heavily forested hilltop. Of modern design, the cottages feature stone fireplaces and electric heat for year-round comfort. Televisions are provided but channel selection is limited. Bathrooms are modern with shower facilities. The cottages are completely furnished for housekeeping with basic appliances, cooking utensils, dishes, linens, towels and blankets.
Cabin has ceiling fans and no air-conditioning. Each cottage has its own barbecue pit. Wireless internet access available. Website
About Twin Falls Resort - A True Mountain Getaway!
Pros - Beautiful remote mountain location. Friendly service.
Cons - Remote mountain location.
The Bottom Line - Beautiful State Resort Park in Southern West Virginia
Twin Falls State Resort Park is located in southern West Virginia, about 30 miles southwest of Beckley. Due to its remote location and surrounding mountains, Twin Falls State Resort Park is a true getaway (no cell phone service).
Because of its remote location, if you do not plan to cook your own meals at the camp site, you will want to plan to eat at the Lodge Restaurant. They offer a variety of menu items for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the food is very good. The lodge rooms are small, but cozy, with quilts on the bed. The view from my balcony was beautiful. In addition to the namesake twin falls, the park recreated a pioneer farm that is a great spot to take pictures and enjoy the scenery.
If you are looking for a true mountain getaway “off the beaten path”, Twin Falls State Park may have just what you are looking for. Recommended: Yes
Pictures source:

Day 2. New River Gorge   (1 July 2008 Tuesday)
New River Gorge National River
A rugged, white water river, flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. Located in southern West Virginia, New River Gorge National River was established in 1978 to preserve and protect 53 miles of the New River as a free-flowing waterway. This unit of the National Park System encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River between the towns of Hinton and Fayetteville. Park website:
About Fayetteville, WV
Fayetteville, WV was named after the famous LaFayette, the French nobleman who aided the struggling colonists during the American Revolution. Located in the mountainous heart of southern West Virginia, our destination offers outdoor enthusiasts near and far beautiful scenery, exciting outdoor adventure, romantic getaways, or that long awaited family vacation, Fayetteville and its surrounding areas have plenty of activities and attractions to keep even the liveliest visitor happy. Often called Gateway to the New River Gorge, Fayetteville is perched in the rim of the 800 foot deep New River Gorge. Far below those fabled walls, the New River carves out her ancient path over boulders and under the second longest steel arch bridge in the world. Town's website:
New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, WV
The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel-arch bridge, in Fayetteville, West Virginia, USA; with a length of 3030 feet (924 m), it was for many years the longest in the world of that type. Its arch extends 1700 feet (518 m). Part of U.S. Highway 19, it is crossed by an average of 17,000 motor vehicles per day.
The New River Gorge Bridge carries U.S. Highway 19 over the New River and the CSX railroad at a height of 876 feet (267 m), making it the highest vehicular bridge in the Americas, and the second-highest in the world. (Before the 2004 opening of the Millau Viaduct in France, it was the highest in the world.) Construction began on the bridge in June of 1974, and completed on October 22, 1977.
Canyon Rim Visitor Center in Fayetteville, WV
With an estimated 300,000 visitors each year, the center provides the park with a nationally recognized facility, revealing the beauty of New River Gorge National River to the nation and the world. The visitor center features an exhibit room filled with photographs and exhibits on the people, towns, and industry of the gorge. Other displays focus on the recreation and natural history of the area.
Visitors can enjoy two videos; on the construction of the New River Gorge Bridge, and on how the forces of nature created the massive V-shaped gorge. The auditorium provides visitors an orientation slide program on the park, and other special features and programs.
The most easily recognized attractions of the site are the views of the gorge and bridge. The back deck of the center offers a two-mile view southward into the park. Visitors discover the striking size of the gorge with one of the world's oldest rivers at the bottom. A short hiking trail descends into the gorge on a wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk has two observation decks which offer unobstructed views of the longest steel arch span in the western hemisphere and the mile wide gorge it spans.
Canyon Rim Visitor Center is located on U.S. Route 19, just north of Fayetteville, WV. Open year round daily 9am to 5pm. Park website:
Beckley Coal Mine in Beckley, WV
In the late 1800s and early 1900s this mine was active, producing many tons of coal per day. Now it is operated by the city of Beckley as a tourist attraction. The Exhibition Coal Mine is the largest and most popular coal heritage destination in the region. Traveling 1500 feet beneath the hillsides of New River Park, visitors will then be carried along track in authentic "man cars" to actual old working areas of the coal mine. Stops throughout the tour explore the history of low-seam coal mining from the hand-loading days into the era of modern mechanization.
Admission price $20 / $12 includes the underground tour, as well as admission to the coal miner's house, superintendent's house, miner's shanty, coal camp church, and camp school. It also includes admission to the Youth Museum and the Mountain Homestead.
Be sure to bring a jacket: the temperature in the mine is a chilly 58-degrees year-round. Underground tours last 35 - 40 minutes. Please allow another 45 minutes for your tour of the coal camp.
Coal is the lumpy, black foundation upon which West Virginia rests, both physically and economically. A recent flap of mine explosions and cave-ins reminded us that West Virginia is still chock full of deadly holes where men toil to heat our homes. There really is no attraction better suited to this state than a coal mine.
Don't let the "Exhibition" in the name of this place fool you. Beckley's isn't a phony, like the fake factories at Hershey's Chocolate World in Pennsylvania, or at Kellogg's Cereal City in Michigan. This once served as a working coal mine. It closed in 1910, the city grew up around its entrance, and the area surrounding it became a city park. In 1960 the mine was re-opened as a tourist attraction. We've been on plenty of underground tours, but never one where the main thrust is to tell you how to blast a bigger and deeper hole in the ground. Comments source:
6pm Grandview Contact Station near Beckley, WV
Grandview, a mountaintop park near I-64 and the city of Beckley, overlooks Horseshoe Bend from the southwest rim of the New River Gorge. Grandview became part of New River Gorge National River in 1990, after more than 50 years as one of West Virginia's most popular day use state parks.
Grandview is a peaceful place to relax and unwind while enjoying views of the New River. Park rangers will answer your questions and orient you to the park. At the Main Overlook, 1400 feet above the river, you see an active railway and the town of Quinnimont, where the first coal was shipped out of the gorge in 1873. Don't miss the views from Turkey Spur Overlook, and be sure to walk the woodland trails.
Park features include overlooks of the New River, a visitor center (open seasonally), five hiking trails, ranger-led walks and talks, summer outdoor dramas, and picnic areas with playgrounds. Grandview is home to Theatre West Virginia, which features outdoor drama presentations from June through August.
To reach Grandview from Beckley follow I-64 East five miles to Exit 129 B. Turn right and follow Route 9 North six miles to Grandview.
8pm to 10pm Theatre West Virginia in Grandview near Beckley, WV
Join us amid southern West Virginia's national parklands each summer for spectacular entertainment under the stars. For more than 40 years, we've produced two of the world's most captivating outdoor drama performances on the stage at the Cliffside Amphitheatre at Grandview.
Watch the "Honey in the Rock" by Kermit Hunter. Music by Ewel Cornett & Jack Kilpatrick. To fight for the dominance of the Union or the rights of its states? Such a decision destroyed many lives in the South during the Civil War. But here in westv, it resulted in the creation of a new state -- "West Virginia," Union loyal, and populated by a hard-nosed new breed of American.
"Honey in the Rock" chronicles the tumultuous birth of the Mountain State through the lives of some of its real and imagined residents. It's a romping, rollicking, vibrant historical performance filled with drama, intrigue, music, comedy and romance.
Admission $14 / $6 (with AAA discount) + 6% WV tax. Phone 1-800-666-9142. 7 seats reserved for a total of $95.40
Showtimes are at 8:15 p.m. Reserved tickets must be collected the day of the show at the box office in Grand View 5pm to 7:45pm. Doors open at 7pm for seating.

Day 3. In and Around Charleston, WV   (2 July 2008 Wednesday)
9am to 10:30am drive to Charleston, WV (estimated distance 81 miles)
About Charleston, WV
Come see why Charleston is the doorway to West Virginia! Open our doors! We invite you to experience something wild and wonderful. With rugged beauty, charm and welcoming atmosphere, you’ll find that visiting Charleston is the perfect way to enjoy a day, weekend getaway or extended adventure. Charleston, nestled in the lush westvn Mountains, is not only the capital city, but also the perfect setting to enjoy history, culture, entertainment and fun. Charleston, located in Kanawha County, is largest city and the capital city of West Virginia with a population of approximately 51,300.
No matter what time of year, Charleston is the place for you to delight in the pleasures that each season brings. The beautiful, rolling mountains are close enough for you to explore, yet are distant enough to provide the perfect backdrop for West Virginia’s capital city. A wide, sparkling river winds gently by, edging all the downtown activities. A stroll along the river’s attractive walkway gives you an idea of how relaxing and comfortable Charleston is. Charleston, WV, is a bustling city, a cultural Mecca and a historical reminder of West Virginia’s wild and wonderful past. Amid the tumultuous Civil War, West Virginia officially became a state through Presidential Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln declared the northwestern portion of Virginia to be returned to the Union, and on June 20, 1863, West Virginia became a state. Source:
West Virginia State Capitol
The present Capitol took eight years to complete at a cost of just under $10 million. It was constructed in three stages. The west wing was built in 1924-25; the east wing was constructed in 1926-27; and the rotunda connecting the wings was completed in 1930-32. Governor William G. Conley dedicated the new Capitol on the state's 69th birthday, June 20, 1932. The exterior of the classical-styled building is buff Indiana limestone. More than 700 train carloads of limestone and 4,640 tons of steel were used in its construction. The magnificent 293- foot gold dome which tops the structure is five feet higher than the dome of the U.S. Capitol. The entire dome is gilded in 14 karat gold leaf applied to the copper and lead roof in tiny 3 3/8 inch squares.
Governor's Mansion
The stately Executive Mansion overlooking the Kanawha River is home to the Governor and First Family. The 30-room Georgian Revival structure was designed by Charleston architect Walter F. Martens and completed in 1925. The first floor state room include the Reception Hall with its splendid dual Georgian staircases; the Living Room, furnished with antiques; the Library, paneled in butternut wood from Randolph County, WV; the State Dining Room, with a 14-foot banquet table that seats 22 guests; and the ballroom, featuring a mantel acquired from an Irish castle. Source:
Kanawha County Courthouse
Three units comprise the picturesque Romanesque-style mass of the main country courthouse. The first segment, built in 1892, was followed by a second, the Boulevard unit, in 1917. This was then succeeded by a Virginia Street addition in 1924. A modern courthouse annex was built across Virginia Street in 1985. 409 Virginia Street, East.
Originally, George Clendenin and his brothers arrived in the area in 1788, and established a protective fort on what is now the intersection of Brooks Street and Kanawha Boulevard. Fort Lee served as the first courthouse in Kanawha County. In 1796, a one-story log structure was built as the first “official” Courthouse in Kanawha County. A second log building next door housed a two-cell jail (one cell for debtors, one for other prisoners) and an apartment for the jailer’s family. At the back of the jail stood a whipping post and a pillory and stock. In 1817, it was replaced by a two-story brick structure, which was used until the first part of the existing Courthouse was built in 1892.
Charleston Town Center Mall
West Virginia's exclusive shopping address, Charleston Town Center is a premier shopping and dining destination featuring over 130 specialty stores on three levels including Macy's, JC Penney and Sears. A spectacular Center Court features a 3-story atrium, fountains and lush greenery. Six popular full-service restaurants are on the street level, while a dozen fast food counters represent the third level food court. Located adjacent to the Charleston Marriott and the Charleston Civic Center, Charleston Town Center provides guests with the convenience of three covered parking garages.

Day 4. White Water Rafting in New River   (3 July 2008 Thursday)
6:20am to 7:30am drive to Fayetteville, WV (distance 46 miles and driving time of 1 hour 5 minutes)
Whitewater in New River
The New River begins high in the mountains of western North Carolina, crosses Virginia, and enters West Virginia near its southernmost tip. It then heads north to join the Gauley River, and form the Kanawha River. In so doing, it manages to transect every ridge of the Alleghenies. Its name is actually a misnomer in that it may be one of the oldest rivers in the world.
New River Gorge National River includes 53 miles of free-flowing New River, beginning at Bluestone Dam and ending at Hawks Nest Lake. The New River typifies big West Virginia style whitewater. Within the park it has two very different characters. The upper (southern) part of the river consists primarily of long pools, and relatively easy rapids up to Class III. It is a big powerful river, but very beautiful, always runnable.
The lower (northern) section of river is often referred to as "the Lower Gorge." In a state that is justifiably renowned for colossal rapids, the Lower Gorge has some of the biggest of the big with rapids ranging in difficulty from Class III to Class V. The rapids are imposing and forceful, many of them obstructed by large boulders which necessitate maneuvering in very powerful currents, crosscurrents, and hydraulics. Although the gradient is a modest 20 ft/mi, the rapids are of the full-grown West Virginia variety: big, brawny, and bodacious!
7:30am to 3pm Appalachian Wildwaters
The New River Gorge, in the amazing mountains of West Virginia, is one of those awe-inspiring places in the world, where beauty and white water combine into the greatest whitewater rafting on the East Coast. The New River Gorge offers rafting not only for families but also for those looking for incredible whitewater rafting trip and views of the westvn Mountains. Rafting the Lower New River takes you right underneath the world famous New River Gorge Bridge, the second longest steel arch bridge. The New River offers different rafting trips throughout the white water season
Lower New River One Day Trip - The most popular New River trip and a beautiful way to spend the day. Enjoy roller coaster waves and exciting rapids like The Keeneys and Double Z as you wind your way down this ancient river valley. A lunch is served riverside and there is plenty of time to swim and play along the way. This trip puts in at Thurmond during higher water and at Cunard once the water level subsides. Appalachian Wildwaters white water rafting on the Lower New River is a trip that is taken on 15 miles of the New River Gorge. In a standard 10 man raft this whitewater rafting trip will cover rapids from Class I to Class V.
Many of our guests can not swim. You are not alone. Everyone who rafts is required to wear a personal floatation device (PFD, life-jacket) at all times while on the river. These PFD's are Coast Guard approved, and will hold you up in the water.
Summer months are generally warmer and usually a swimsuit and shorts are fine. T-shirts can also be worn for protection from the sun as well as a baseball cap and sunglasses. Please remember to wear sunscreen. Shoes are required for all of our rafting trips. Tennis shoes or sandals with a heel strap are allowed. NO FLIP FLOPS. Also bring: Towel, Dry Clothes, Dry Shoes.
Minimum Age: 12     Experience Needed: No     Boat Type: Raft
Reservations made and paid for 4 persons $381.60 (tax included). Must be there at 7:30am.
Location: at Fayetteville, WV. Follow Rt. 19 North. At a the westvn Drive traffic light, turn right. At the stop sign turn right. Take the first left onto Broadway Ave. Appalachian Wildwaters is the first left off of Broadway Ave.
Tamarack in Beckley, WV
Tamarack is the nation's first statewide collection of handmade craft, art and cuisine showcasing The Best of West Virginia. From furniture to glass, or pottery to westvn quilts, Tamarack features West Virginia's best handcrafts, regional specialty foods, live performances, craft demonstrations and theater. Tamarack preserves the Mountain State’s rich heritage by supporting artisans and selling their handcrafts. Visitors will discover 59,000 square feet of juried crafts, working art studios for resident artisans, a 178-seat theater, fine art gallery and A Taste of West Virginia food court all under one roof. Located just off I-77 / I-64 on Exit 45 in Beckley, WV
The red, halo-shaped, multi-peaked roofline of Tamarack: The Best of the West Virginia is hard to miss as you approach exit 45 from I-77 at Beckley. That's good, because you'll be glad you visited the spacious arts center. More than 1,200 artisans and businesses are represented in this cornucopia of West Virginia handcrafts, fine art, live entertainment and good food.
From glass to silk, from wood to ceramics, West Virginia's finest is gathered here. With five craft demonstration studios and a 200-seat theater featuring films and live performances (including a popular dinner theater series), something is always happening at Tamarack. Visit the fine arts gallery or stroll the 1.2-mile nature trail, inner courtyard, sculpture garden and herb gardens. Source

Day 5. Monongahela National Forest and Cass Railroad   (4 July 2008 Friday)
8:30am to 10:30am drive to Richwood, WV (estimated distance 92 miles)
About Monongahela
In 1915, 7,200 acres were acquired to begin the forest, called the Monongahela Purchase, and then on April 28, 1920 it became the Monongahela National Forest. Today the forest is over 919,000 acres in federal ownership in 10 counties in West Virginia, making it the fourth largest National Forest in 20 northeastern states. Park website:
Highland Scenic Highway
The Highland Scenic Highway is a beautiful corridor through the National Forest. This National Forest Scenic Byway extends 43 miles from Richwood to US Route 219, seven miles north of Marlinton. The Highway follows State Route 39/55 for 21 miles from Richwood to the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center and passes by Falls of Hills Creek. It then turns onto State Route 150 for the 22 mile Parkway section that passes by the Cranberry Glades and the Cranberry Wilderness. The Highway traverses the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Highlands and Plateau, and rises from Richwood, elevation 2,325 feet, to over 4,500 feet along the Parkway. The Highway is a paved two-lane road. Speed limits are 55 mph for the State Route 39/55 section and 45 mph for the Parkway section. Four Scenic overlooks located on the Parkway portion of the Highway provide spectacular views of the Allegheny Highlands.
Map source:
Falls of Hills Creek in Richwood, WV
In Richwood, WV along Highway 39/55. Tucked away in a narrow gorge just off the Highland Scenic Highway is a hidden treasure known as the Falls of Hills Creek Scenic Area. This popular 114 acre area contains three waterfalls - 25 feet, 45 feet, and 63 feet. The lower falls, at 63 feet is the second highest waterfall in West Virginia. A three quarter mile trail leads visitors to spectacular views of the three waterfalls as Hills Creek descends 220 feet between the upper and lower falls. The first 1700 feet of trail is a paved, wheelchair accessible path to the upper falls viewing platform. The remainder of the trail is more strenuous with stairways and boardwalks leading to the lower falls. The complete trip takes about an hour, or longer, if you want to rest often or just enjoy the scenic beauty. Because of the steep, narrow gorge, there are few hours during the day when sunlight hits the waterfalls. The best time for photographs is mid-day when the sun is highest. In summer months, the water flow can be quite low, so the best viewing times are after heavy rains. Source:
Cranberry Mountain Nature Center
Located at the junction of Route 150 and Route 39/55, the Nature Center offers information about the National Forest and other nearby attractions. An exhibit hall and audio visual programs provide interpretation of forest ecosystems and local history.
The exhibit hall features many interactive displays which are both educational and entertaining to young and old alike. The auditorium offers short films on request on topics, such as Smokey Bear Story, Jewels of the Monongahela, Cranberry Glades, wildflowers, and many others. Open Thursday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Source:
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area protects the largest area of bogs in West Virginia. Bogs are acidic wetlands more commonly found in the northern areas of this country and in Canada. The ground in a bog is spongy and consists largely of partially-decayed plant material known as peat. Because of its unique conditions, some unusual plants grow in bogs, including carnivorous or insect-eating plants. The Botanical Area encompasses 750 acres.
The Cranberry Glades consists of four bogs whose plant and animal life is similar to that found in the bogs or "muskegs" of the north. This life spread southward with the changing climatic conditions that allowed glaciers to creep across the northern part of our continent. Several species ended their migration here, and the Cranberry Glades are now the southern-most point in North America where some of these life forms are found.
Please treat the Cranberry Glades with care! A half-mile boardwalk has been constructed through two of the bogs so you can enjoy the area without disturbing this fragile community.
4:30pm to 8pm Cass Railroad - Murder Mystery Dinner Train
Nestled in the mountains of West Virginia, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park offers excursions that transport you back in time and let you relive an era when steam-driven locomotives were an essential part of everyday life. Trips to Cass are filled with rich histories of the past, unparalleled views of a vast wilderness area, and close-up encounters with the sights and sounds of original steam-driven locomotives. The Cass Scenic Railroad is the same line built in 1901 to haul lumber to the mill in Cass. The town of Cass remains relatively unchanged. The restored company houses add to the charm and atmosphere of the town.
Once you board the train, the real excitement begins! The great pistons of the carefully restored Shay locomotive will start pulsing, driven by hundreds of pounds of steam pressure. The shaft begins turning, the wheels find traction, and the locomotive begins to move. With thick, black smoke belching from its stack, the train pulls away from the station, passing the old water tower from which the locomotive tanks are filled. As the train rounds the curve up Leatherbark Creek, you'll pass the Cass Shop, where the locomotives are serviced and repaired, and a graveyard of antiquated, but fascinating equipment on sidetracks. As the pressure builds, the locomotive is driven at full steam, and the laborious journey up the mountain toward the two switchbacks begin. The loud huff of the stack, the clanking of gears and pistons, the furious scream of the whistle at the crossings, and the ever present clackety-clack of the rails will indeed make you feel as if you have been transported back in time.
The train soon passes through the first switchback, reverses up a steep grade, and ascends to the second switchback where the process is repeated, and then finally into open fields and Whittaker Station. The switchback process allows the train to gain quick altitude, and in this instance, the train is traversing a grade of up to 11 percent, or 11 feet in altitude for each 100 feet of track. A 2 percent grade on conventional railroads is considered steep!
Whittaker Station is located four miles up the track from Cass. At Whittaker Station you will have the opportunity to leave the train and enjoy a breathtaking view of a vast wilderness area. Visitors can rest, eat lunch, and take a tour of the authentic logging camp recreated by the volunteers of the Mountain State Railroad & Logging Historical Association. Cass Scenic Railroad State Park is an unforgettable adventure... a journey back in time to the days of geared locomotives and log trains. Bring jackets and dress warmly for high elevations!
Murder Mystery Dinner Train – 4th of July Find out whodunit on this uproarious train ride into your imagination. Enjoy a great buffet dinner, but watch your back, because somebody isn't going to make the return trip! A special prize is awarded to one lucky detective on each Murder Mystery Special. This makes a memorable evening for all ages. Rate includes train ride to Whittaker, dinner and entertainment.
Train departs at 5 p.m. Reservations required. Rates Adults $38 Children (5-12) $28.
Tickets purchased 6 adults 1 child total of $256. Must cancel 30 days prior.
Website: Phone (304) 456 4300 or (800) 2255 982
8pm to 11pm drive from Cass to Saulsville, WV distance of 146 miles and driving time of 2 hours 50 minutes

Day 6. Bluestone Lake   (5 July 2008 Saturday)
Bluestone State Park in Hinton, WV
Encompassing over 2,100 acres of rugged, heavily forested, mountainous terrain, Bluestone State Park provides a wide variety of water-oriented activities for guests and residents of southern West Virginia. In the midst of this wilderness park, just five miles south of Hinton, are nestled modern cabins, a campground and fine recreational facilites. The extra plus is that Bluestone is adjacent to Bluestone Lake, the state's third largest body of water. Bluestone National Wild and Scenic River flows into Bluestone Lake within the Park boundaries. Being located adjacent to the 2,000-acre Bluestone Lake, water-related activities are accented at the park. Boating and water-skiing round out the lake activities. Boats with motors can be rented for 3 hours for $25 (5 hours $40). Boat rental fees do not include gas and oil.
Throughout the summer season, a wide variety of sports and special events are featured. At the park's main office, equipment for croquet, shuffleboard, and horseshoes may be rented. In addition, special weekly programs are provided by the park naturalist for your entertainment. Included in such events are nature hikes, movies, slide shows, volleyball and softball games, weiner roasts, and numerous other activities. The park is laced with a number of intriguing hiking trails. Some of these afford panoramic views of Bluestone's picturesque lake and mountainous terrain.
Take exit 139 (Sandstone/Hinton) off Interstate 64 to WV 20 South, and drive 15 miles to the park.

Day 7. Lewisburg   (6 July 2008 Sunday)
8:30am to 10am drive to Lewisburg, WV (estimated distance 76 miles)
10am to 12noon Lost World Caverns near Lewisburg, WV
Descend 120 feet below the Earth's surface into a vast wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites. Lost World Caverns, discovered in 1942, is a truly magical place for both young and old. It takes approximately 45 minutes to walk through. We offer self-guided tours so you can take your time to explore the cavern at your own pace. Just remember to stay on the trail. A guide sheet is provided to tell you about the many different formations that make up this 1/2 mile loop.
You'll see formations such as The Snowy Chandelier, a 30 ton compound stalactite, presumed to be one of the nation's largest. The Bridal Veil is a beautiful column of sparkling white calcite. And of course there is the War Club, a 28 foot stalagmite made famous when Bob Addis sat on it for nearly 16 days, just to get his name in the Guinness Book of World Records. These are but a few of the formations you'll see when you visit Lost World Caverns. Bring your camera to show your friends and family the beauty of this cave when you tell them about the great time you had.
No matter what the temperature on the outside, the cave always remains a constant 52 degrees. A light jacket and good shoes are recommended. Open 9am to 7pm. Admission $10 / $5.
From I-64 take exit 169 (Lewisburg). Head South on 219, turn right on Arbuckle Lane, then turn right on North Court Street which becomes Fairview Road. Continue 1.5 miles to the entrance of Lost World Caverns
12 noon to 3pm Historic Lewisburg
Set amid the Allegheny Mountains, in an area rich in history and natural beauty, Lewisburg beckons to the traveler seeking something other than patented tourist attractions. We are the 221-year-old town with many 18th and 19th-century buildings, where the steeple clock still tolls the hour and the church bells ring out on Sunday mornings. Within five minutes of the historic district travelers will come upon scenery thought only to exist in old language paintings. They will see narrow country roads winding through rolling farmlands, 19th-century farmhouses and manor houses, and shaded ponds tucked away into hollows.
Enjoy a stroll through this 236-acre National Register Historic District which contains 70 18th & 19th century buildings, near several unique shops and restaurants. Charming Lewisburg, WV looks much as it did in the late 1700s when many of its homes and buildings were being built. History buffs delight in its Civil War historic sites and early-Virginian agricultural architecture. Must see sites include the Andrew Lewis Spring, the Old Stone Church and Cemetery, and the cross-shaped mass grave of Rebel soldiers overlooking the town. Inns, shops, theaters, galleries, and restaurants line the district's main streets. Lewisburg was first named Fort Savannah as a result of its situation among broad, level grasslands. Town website:
Lewisburg has come a long way since its beginnings as a small outpost in the mountains of colonial Virginia. This town now has become a renowned haven for artists and its many antebellum mansions give it a unique historical flair. In downtown Lewisburg, visitors soon realize they are stepping back in time to a simpler age, when dozens of little shops served individual needs and there was no hurry in shopping. The National Trust for Historical Preservation named this stretch of boutique shops and small restaurants one of twelve “Distinctive Destinations” in the U.S. Do not mistake historic to mean dry though, Lewisburg is vibrant with plenty to offer all ages.
Sandstone Visitor Center in Sandstone, WV
The Sandstone Visitor Center serves as a gateway to the southern portion of the New River Gorge National River where visitors traveling along I-64 can stop and get oriented to the park and southern West Virginia. This center, located just north of the I-64 and State Route 20 interchange (Exit 139), opened in the fall of 2003. The 9,800 square-foot facility features sustainable (green) design concepts for energy efficiency and resource conservation. In addition to the energy conservation elements, water conserving native plants were selected for landscaping at the site.
Visitors to the new facility will learn about the natural and cultural history of the New River and its watershed through interactive interpretive exhibits. They can view the 12-minute video program on the New River and purchase books and educational materials from the bookstore. Website
Sandstone Falls in Sandstone, WV
Among the most visited natural landmarks in the territory of the New River Gorge National River, Sandstone Falls thunders over the thick shelf of the Stony Gap Sandstone, in photographic spectacle. Downstream of Sandstone Falls, the National Park Service has established observation areas with wayside exhibits throughout the Sandstone Falls Natural Area, connected by an elaborate boardwalk with rest stations. The wheelchair-access Sandstone Falls boardwalk leads visitors across a series of forested islands to the highest part of the falls on the eastern half of the river. The walk passes several smaller falls, pools, and rivulets, more-typical of the gentle western half of the river's descent. Picnic tables and public toilets are located near the Sandstone Falls parking area at the boardwalk entrance.
From Interstate 64 exit 139 (Sandstone-Hinton exit), follow WV Route 20 (WV-20) south eleven miles through Hinton to River Road. Follow River Road (WV-26) 8.5 miles.

Day 8. Drive to Philadelphia, PA   (7 July 2008 Monday)
6am to 3pm hotel check-out / drive to Philadelphia, PA
    Total distance of 492 miles and
      estimated driving time of 8 hours 10 minutes.
3pm hotel check-in Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia
1100 Arch Street, Philadelphia PA 19107
Phone (215) 923-0100 Check-in 4pm (booked for early check-in)
The Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia Center City hotel of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is adjacent to the Pennsylvania Convention Center and is part of the Gallery Mall with over 100 shops and restaurants. Reading Terminal Market, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and the theatre district are all within walking distance of the Hilton Garden Inn Philadelphia Center City hotel in Pennsylvania. Deluxe accommodations, friendly Pennsylvania style service and a relaxed atmosphere await our guests.
2 double beds, complimentary High-Speed Internet Access. In-room hospitality center with a microwave, refrigerator and coffeemaker. Website:
5pm til late - Penn's Landing (Philadelphia's waterfront)
The area today known as Penn's Landing stretches along the Delaware River for about 10 blocks from Vine Street to South Street, and encompasses the spot where William Penn, Philadelphia's founder, first touched ground in his "greene country towne." After Penn's arrival, this area quickly became the center of Philly's maritime soul and the city's dominant commercial district. Today, however, Penn's Landing is a riverside park and the place where Philadelphians gather in the summer to hear music.
Follow a brick promenade south, walking parallel to the river. First stop off the brick path is the Gazela, a 177-foot-long square-rigged vessel built in 1883. In her first incarnation, she was a Portuguese fishing boat and as recently as the 1960s she was still active seeking cod in Canada's Grand Banks.
The Great Plaza - It’s the center of the Penn’s Landing district and home to more than 50 quality, free, family-fun entertainment events. Also contained within the plaza is a historical account of Philadelphia's waterfront history.
U.S.S. Olympia - "You may fire when you are ready, Gridley." Thus Commodore Dewey ignited the 1898 Battle of Manila Bay from the bridge of the Olympia. Seven-and-a-half hours later the Spanish fleet in the Philippines had been destroyed and the U.S. had arrived as an imperial power. The Olympia, built in 1892, was one of America's first steel. She became the flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron, and protected American interests in many foreign countries.
River Ferry crossing the Delaware River and back
From Wikipedia: The RiverLink Ferry is a passenger ferry system that traverses a crossing of the Delaware River, connecting the Camden, New Jersey waterfront with Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ferry operates daily from May through September, and on Fridays through Sundays in April and October. Primarily, the system provides tourists with a means to reach waterfront attractions.
Riding the Ferry on the Delaware River offers a 12-minute picturesque view of the Philadelphia skyline and colorful attractions in Camden. For ease of use, we have moved to a predictable schedule, leaving Camden on the 1/2 hour and Philadelphia on the hour.
Departing Philadelphia 5pm 6pm 7pm. Departing Camden 5:30pm 6:30pm 7:30pm
In Philadelphia, the ferry dock is at Walnut Street & Columbus Boulevard at Penn’s Landing. Roundtrip RiverLink Ferry Fares $6/ $5

Day 9. In and Around Philadelphia   (8 July 2008 Tuesday)
Independence Visitor Center
Located on America’s Most Historic Square Mile, across from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Independence National Historical Park. The Center provides the millions of visitors who travel to Philadelphia with a FREE comprehensive orientation to the culture, history, shopping and dining options available throughout the Greater Philadelphia region in an environment that is welcoming and convenient for travelers. After stopping at the Independence Visitor Center, visitors will know where to go, what to see and how to get there.
Liberty Bell
The Liberty Bell Center offers a video presentation and exhibits about the Liberty Bell, focusing on its origins and its modern day role as an international icon of freedom. Taped presentations about the history of the Liberty Bell are offered in a dozen languages for the convenience of foreign visitors. The Liberty Bell itself is displayed in a magnificant glass chamber with Independence Hall in the background.
The bell weighs about 2000 pounds. It is made of 70% copper, 25% tin, and small amounts of lead, zinc, arsenic, gold, and silver. It hangs from what is believed to be its original yoke, made from American elm, also known as slippery elm.
Money in Motion at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Come to Money in Motion, where over 100,000 visitors have learned about money, banking, and the Federal Reserve System. This permanent exhibit at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is free and employs state-of-the-art presentation technology and interactive displays. The exhibit is a wonderful place to learn the story of central banking in the United States. Philadelphia is the home of the first Bank of the United States, and that's why the Philadelphia Fed is eager to tell you about the nation's financial history. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia is located at 6th and Arch streets, on Independence Mall.
  • trace the changes in our national currency from the early 1600s to today; view money from the original 13 colonies
  • examine a rare $100,000 bill
  • learn what indicators the Fed monitors to predict the economic future
  • delve into the world of payment and debit cards in the electronic age
  • marvel at a 25-foot tower of shredded bills totaling $100 million
  • examine a currency cart representing $1,350,000 in $5 bills.
  • test your skills at detecting counterfeits and learn about the new security features on the latest currency
    Open Monday - Friday 9:30am thru 4:30pm
  • National Constitution Center
    The National Constitution Center is an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization dedicated to increasing public understanding of, and appreciation for, the Constitution, its history, and its contemporary relevance, through an interactive, interpretive facility within Independence National Historical Park and a program of national outreach, so that We the People may better secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. The exhibit experience at this groundbreaking new museum will take you through important events in our nation's history and through unique, interactive exhibits, show you how the United States Constitution is as important today as it was 216 years ago. Open 9:30am - 5pm Mon - Fri $12 / $8. Website:
    Independence Hall
    Independence Hall is, by every estimate, the birthplace of the United States. It was within its walls that the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It was here that the Constitution of the United States was debated, drafted and signed. That document is the oldest federal constitution in existence and was framed by a convention of delegates from 12 of the original 13 colonies. Rhode Island did not send a delegate. George Washington presided over the debate which ran from May to September 1787. Obtain timed tickets at the Independence Visitors Center on the day of your visit starting at 8:30am.
    It was in the Assembly Room of this building that George Washington was appointed commander in chief of the Continental Army in 1775 and the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. In the same room the design of the American flag was agreed upon in 1777, the Articles of Confederation were adopted in 1781, and the U. S. Constitution was drafted in 1787. The building, inside and out, has been restored whenever possible to its original late-18th century appearance. Most of the furnishing are period pieces. The "rising sun" chair used by George Washington as he presided over the Constitutional Convention is original. Website:

    Day 10. Drive Back Home (9 July 2008 Wednesday)
    8am hotel checkout / drive to Norfolk, MA
        Distance is 320 miles and estimated driving time of about 7 hours via Merritt Parkway.
    Via Merritt Parkway in Connecticut
    Set in natural surroundings, Merritt Parkway's significant design brilliantly integrates the craft of the engineer and the artist. The bridges along the Parkway are excellent examples of Art Deco, or Art Moderne, styles of the 1920s and 1930s.
    The Merritt Parkway consists of the portion of Route 15 from the New York State line northerly to the bridge crossing the Housatonic River (known as the Sikorsky Bridge) at the Stratford/Milford town line. Route 15 continues northerly, but is named the Wilbur Cross Parkway from the bridge north.
    As one of the only roads listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Merritt Parkway boasts a distinction usually reserved for buildings or battlefields. Many locals consider the byway the heart of their communities. Drive the winding Merritt Parkway and see for yourself why it inspires both reverence and devotion among its fans and supporters, many of whom use it daily or live nearby. Built in the 1930s to cope with America's new fascination with the automobile, this byway is enshrined in the hearts of many as an icon of the automobile age and a model of highway planning.
    The speed limit on the Merritt Parkway ranges between 45 and 55 mph. It is a popular commuter route, so avoid driving the byway during morning and evening rush hours.
    4pm Home Sweet Home

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