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WV VIPP Babcock State Park, WV and Others

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First a bit of background on this story. In 2015 I joined a program run by West Virginia State Parks called the VIPP program. VIPP means

Very Important Parks Person.

The way it works is that when you join this program they send you a card that has a list of 44 state parks on it. You have to go to 15 required parks on the card as well as 5 elective parks. When you visit these parks

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One of the first backpacking trips in WV that I did was Dolly Sods Wilderness. It's a neat place that deserves to be explored.

you get your card stamped with the name of the location on it. You then enter the date that you visited the park next to the stamp. Once you visit the 15 required parks and the 5 elective parks, you turn in the card to WVSP and get a $25 gift card that can be used for various expenses within West Virginia State Parks as well as a patch. There is no time limit as to how long it takes to fill out the card. WV State Parks also hosts an

annual picnic

for its VIPP's once a year. And I can tell you that the food, events and stuff that they give out are very good!

So I traveled to a few parks in 2015 as well as 2016. These were mostly day visits. I'd drive to the park, get my card stamped and either go to another park or go home. However, in 2017, I was very busy and just forgot to take the time to go to a park or two or more to get my card stamped.

So for 2018 I made a committment to get to West Virginia and explore more of their parks. On Tuesday, June 19, 2018 I drove out to Clifftop, WV and stayed in a cabin at

Babcock State Park, WV.

The setting was beautiful. The centerpiece for this park is a reconstructed grist mill similar to one that operated close by a long time ago. There were numerous trails to hike, They had deluxe cabins and economy cabins (which I stayed in). All cabins came with WiFi. There was also a campground in this park that had electric hookups for RV's. It was about a 255 mile drive from northern Virginia.

Other than taking some pictures I just rested the day I arrived because I was tired from the nearly five hour drive. I got some paperwork chores done, read a bit and went to bed early. And I slept well.

On Wednesday, June 20th I got up early, ate and drove about 20 miles northwest along US 60 to

Hawks Nest State Park, WV

near Ansted, WV. There is a lodge there that looks like it was built in the 1960's. When you walk through their breezeway, you are treated to a spectacular view of the New River. Most of the rooms have this breath taking view. The desk clerk stamped my card and informed me that today was West Virginia's birthday. This state was born from the Civil War in 1863. I wished him and the state a Happy Birthday. I forgot to get some pictures of this place and the next one because my phone was playing music in the car as I was driving.

I next drove about 30 miles to

Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park

near Summersville, WV. The drive there was just as interesting as the park itself. I got to drive on US 119, which is the Mountaineer Highway. It's a beautiful four lane road in the middle of nowhere. It probably got built thanks to the late Senator Robert C. Byrd. I also got to drive on WV 129, which goes past the Army Corps of Engineers maintained Summersville Lake, dam and campground. WV 129 goes right over the dam. I then got to Carnifex and got my card stamped. This is one of the oldest state parks in the United States. I am guessing that the park

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was named after the battle, which was named after the Ferry Crossing which was possibly named after the owner of the Ferry (though I could not confirm this). According to, carnifex is latin for a butcher or executioneer. According to the park web site, the Union victory here forced the Confederates out of West Virginia and paved the way for WV to become a state on June 20th, 1863. (The name reminds me of Carfax!).

Then I started the long ride home. The secondary roads in WV are in OK shape but they go up and down. I64 in WV is a beautiful road to drive on. I made it back home before the DC rush hour commenced. The drive was a lot of fun, until I got to northern Virginia.

I was a bit scared before I made this trip. I thought that I would be stranded if my vehicle broke down. But it didn't, I saw some fantastic places, met some very nice people and now have only 9 more required parks and 2 more elective parks to visit before I get my gift card & patch. If you are retired, working or whatever, please look into the

WV VIPP program.

You will get to see some beautiful places that you probably would not have gotten to otherwise. West Virginia truly is wild and wonderful!

Mike C
My VIPP Participation Card
  My VIPP Participation Card.
  By Mike Calabrese
Babcock State Park entrance sign
  Babcock State Park entrance sign.
  By Mike Calabrese

Grist Mill at Babcock SP, WV
  Grist Mill at Babcock SP, WV
  By Mike Calabrese
People lounging in Glade Creek, WV
  People lounging in Glade Creek, WV.
  By Mike Calabrese
Glade Creek Gorge, WV
  Glade Creek Gorge, WV.
  By Mike Calabrese
Area that I explored
  Area that I explored.
  By Mike Calabrese

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