Boone County has maintained its status as one of America's best-kept secrets since its formation in 1847. Nestled deep within the heart of the rolling West Virginia mountains, the county is home to limitless scenic views, free flowing rivers and opportunities for exploration.
Towering trees, vast rivers and hiking trails make up the Route 3 region’s landscape and are accompanied by diverse plant and animal life and varying landmarks. Enjoying the great outdoors while embracing the historical attributes of the area provides entertainment and enrichment to all who visit. Who wouldn’t want to touch a piece of history while breathing in fresh mountain air?
Many of the small, often overlooked towns in this area are children of the coal-mining era in West Virginia. These towns, and those who fill them, stand to represent the chronicled hard work and fortitude of their roots, which lay deeply planted below the state’s coalfields. These nostalgic, charming towns are the reason for which the area is unique and unlike any other ‘small town USA’ communities.
This region of southeastern West Virginia can be discovered through the utilization of Route 3, a stretch of road running from the state’s capital, Charleston, to Beckley, W. Va. Think you’ve seen it all when it comes to the Mountain State? Think again! As you travel down this road, you’ll encounter countless opportunities to stamp your West Virginia passport and are sure to partake in some truly unforgettable experiences.
Before you begin packing a lunch, gathering your friends and family and hitting the road, let’s take a look at my top four must-see stops along your route and determine what the ultimate West Virginia road trip is made up of.
Kanawha State Forest—Charleston, W. Va.
Located within the city limits of Charleston, roughly seven miles from the downtown area, you can find Kanawha State Forest. This 9,300-acre, waterfront recreational park is known for its hiking trails that stretch for a total of 25 miles, its picnic pavilions, playgrounds, popular fishing and hunting grounds and shooting range.
Kanawha State Forest offers an abundance of opportunities for activity and natural interaction. Be sure to stop by and see this state park for yourself as you begin your journey down Route 3!
Upper Big Branch Coal Miner’s Memorial site— Whitesville, W. Va.
As you continue down Route 3, you will run into the town of Whitesville—home of the Upper Big Branch Coal Miner’s Memorial. This permanent monument stands in honor of the 29 lives lost in a 2010 mining explosion.
West Virginia coal miners have paid the ultimate price in attempt to power this great nation. Seeing this breathtaking, thought-evoking memorial will bring purpose and meaningful afterthought to your traveling experience.
When was the last time you sat back and took a deep breath of fresh air while enjoying the view of a picturesque landscape? While you're in town, you may want to consider venturing over to the Coal Heritage Riverwalk where you can do so while enjoying a picnic lunch. Whitesville is conveniently located at the road trip's halfway point, making it the best place to relax and unwind.
Lake Stephens Campground and Marina—Beckley, W. Va.
If you veer off of Route 3 as you near the city of Beckley, you will find Lake Stephens, a county owned park and the subsequent location of a breathtaking 272-acre mountain lake. Beyond the waterfront you can find 1,900-acres of hardwood forest and enough natural wildlife to warrant a long stretch of relaxation and observation.
This park also houses its own campground and marina. Should you crave a longer stay, pack your tents and hitch your boat before beginning your trip!
Tudor’s Biscuit World—Beckley, W. Va.
At the conclusion of your travels, you may be feeling a bit hungry! Waiting for you in Beckley is Tudor’s Biscuit World, a renowned West Virginia chain restaurant. Tudor’s serves biscuits, biscuit sandwiches, home-style breakfasts and hearty dinners accompanied by various side dish options. What better way to end your West Virginia road trip than with a traditional West Virginia meal?
My name is Tori Brown, and I’m a strategic communications major with an emphasis in advertising in the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. My position is Public Relations Director, and we are working with Whitesville, W.Va. this semester. My goal is to establish seamless and frequent relations with local media that will work to benefit the town of Whitesville and its beloved residents.