When researching places to see in West Virginia, Blackwater Falls State Park came up on most lists of top attractions to visit. The Falls are beloved by West Virginians and tourists so I was looking forward to seeing them. Although the focal point of this large state park, there is more to see here as well. To get up close, there are many steps down to a platform right next to the plunging falls. Along the way are a few different viewpoints for those that don’t want to venture down and up all those steps.
There had been so much rain prior to our visit that the Falls were roaring. It made taking pictures a little difficult because there was so much churning foam and spray as the river hit the pool below. The Falls are an amber color due to the tannic acid of fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. I was really pleased to see a rainbow next to the Falls which came and went as sunlight changed in the canyon.
The park is located in the rugged Allegheny Mountains and as we drove we stopped at various viewpoints. Mark and I talked about the difficulty early settlers must have had navigating these mountains due to the deep canyons and dense forests that are common in this Eastern part of West Virginia. It is hard to imagine that beginning in the late 1800’s, clear cut logging took most of the trees, decimating the magnificent forests throughout the state. The trees eventually came back when large scale logging operations ceased. Today, 78 percent of West Virginia is forest, making it the third most forested state in the U.S. behind Maine and New Hampshire.
Lindy Point is one of the favorite places to visit here as the scenic overlook provides expansive views of Blackwater Canyon far below. After a short walk to the point, it was breathtaking to stand there and take it all in. People like to get out on the rocks closer to the edge, but I am not that brave so I just stepped a little ways on one of the closer ones for a photo.
We were surprised to see that this park has a good sized lodge with rooms, cabins and a restaurant where we ate dinner. The views behind the lodge are dramatic and if staying there, what a great place to hang out and enjoy the scenery on the chairs provided.
We visited another waterfall on a short trail near the Lodge. Elakala Falls is much smaller than Blackwater but in a very pretty forest setting. To get the photo below, I had to do a little scrambling down a rock and tree root studded bank to the creek below.
When we arrived at our campground in Elkins, West Virginia we were greeted with “Welcome to the Farm” by the owner. Located in the country off a narrow paved road and then an even narrower gravel/dirt driveway to the campsites is an RV park with a bit of a farm atmosphere. The owner and his wife are musicians who used to travel and perform extensively as well as manage their farm. At one time it was listed in a West Virginia tourism site as a place for families to see a working farm. Today it seems rather bedraggled with an unkept apple orchard, old buildings and “rustic campsites.” Musical events have been held here and there are two stages with a big grassy field for that purpose.
The owner was great about giving us directions to the campground over the phone explaining to me, “They call West Virginia the Mountain State for a reason and most GPS will send you on the worst mountain roads of the state.” We took his suggestion and other than several grades to cross all went well. He also warned me about the campground’s entrance sign that says they are closed for the season. He noted that oil pipeline workers are always looking for a place to stay and he has to turn them away. He is angry that pipelines are being built in West Virginia and does not want to extend his hospitality to them. He hopes his closed sign will deter most of them. He asked us to observe his “silent gate” rule by stopping for a moment on the driveway next to his home when passing in or out of the campground so he will know we are real bonafide campers.
This campground is set in a valley and has a large amount of property with fields and some woods to explore. Since I love to wander, I thought this would be a great place to camp and enjoy nature. The owner had created a sunflower shaped maze that was filled with wild goldenrod. Monarch butterflies were migrating and decorated the flower fields.
I came upon an old railroad bridge over the creek that had been abandoned. When I asked about it I was told it was 100 years old and had not been used for several years. This was something new, an old railroad bridge and tracks in a campground.
The more I wandered the more I was enjoying this campground. Mark and I also got to see that others have loved staying here as well. While I was exploring that first day, Mark was relaxing outside our trailer when a group of people came to the camp site next door to us. They planted a small tree and sprinkled ashes. We found out that a former camper had loved coming here so much that he wanted his ashes spread at his favorite campsite. As a tribute they planted the tree for him and also gathered at the small pond near the the sunflower maze and planted another sapling spreading more of his ashes. The owner told me this was the memorial grove with half a dozen other trees of various sizes that had been planted for former campers. Below another view from the campground.
Sometimes a place can be both invigorating and exasperating and this was our experience at Pegasus Farm. The country atmosphere was beautiful and peaceful but as a campground, it was not always so great. There was no office and trying to get questions answered can be tough unless you can find the owner while he is working around the large property. This is the first campground we stayed at where no paperwork was given with general campground information. For a couple of days we did not know where the trash receptacle was as it was not located near the campsites. But the main problem here was the long driveway on a blind hill that I estimate to be 1/4 mile long and so narrow that two vehicles of any size would be unable to pass each other. This amazed me because most RV’s staying in the park were large Class A’s, including one next to us that is the biggest I have ever seen in our travels at 46 feet in length. I kept wondering how they were getting these huge RV’s down this drive and what if they met up with another vehicle? Whenever we ventured down the driveway to go in or out I feared we might encounter someone coming the opposite way.
One night driving back late we were halfway down the drive when we came upon a small car which flashed their lights that they wanted us to back up. I got out to help guide Mark through the pitch blackness. Just then another set of lights approached from the rear. We found out the owners were in the car in front of us and now they decided to back up on the side of the hill near the cemetery to make room. As I perched on the bank, Mark had to drive on down without me as he couldn’t locate me in the dark and needed to get out of the way of the oncoming truck. The owner insisted on giving me a ride the rest of the way to our campsite. Summing up the confusion he said, “Well, it always works out all right on the farm.” Although I didn’t agree, it gave me a few chuckles thinking about what happened.
I thought I would include the above photo to show how a campground can look after almost five straight days of rain. Although our site was not flooded, some of the others were. When I ventured out to wander the campground including those goldenrod fields and the railroad bridge, my soaked tennis shoes would not dry out that night. When we left to travel on to Virginia, I had a newly purchased pair of rubber boots from Walmart in the back of the truck.
Thanks for reading – in the next blog we move on to another campsite on the Blue Ridge Parkway of Virginia.