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WV VIPP Cathedral, Tygart Lake and Other State Parks, WV

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On Wednesday, May 29, 2019 I did a 700 mile plus driving loop in West Virginia for my WV VIPP Program. I hit 4 different state parks, got my card stamped and made it back to Manassas, VA in 1 day. Here.s how it went.

I left early on Wednesday morning and drove I66->I81->US48->WV42 ->US50. As I was crossing the second MD/WV border I noticed a sign for Cathedral State Park. I had to turn around as I had already passed it. They usually have a small box attached to a prominent building that says VIPP on it. Inside that box is a stamp pad and a rubber stamp. You can then stamp your card when no one is present at the park office, which was the case here. This is a small state park. Only 133 acres. But it's claim to fame is that is has the oldest stand of virgin timber in the state. It was a former resort. There are trees that are up to 90 feet high and 16 feet in circumference. No camping, only 3 miles of trails and the entrance area looked a bit run down. I did not explore this park as I was in a hurry to get to at least 2 parks today. This park was in Aurora, WV.

Next I drove about 40 miles west, then south via US50->WV119 to Tygart Lake State Park. My GPS kept trying to take me down small, uninviting dirt and gravel roads on the way to this park. So I went by the road signs. This is a huge park. The lake alone is 10 miles long and 1,350 acres while the park itself is 391 acres. This one is laid out like Babcock State Park. You have an entrance, then a fork in the road. At this park, one side goes to the campground, office and marina. The other side goes to the dam and lodge. I only went to the office to get my card stamped. Very nice park. The camp sites looked great. I had my camping gear and thought about staying here. But it looked like rain and the park personnel confirmed this for me. So I didn.t stay. I was a bit disappointed with their rates. $40 to camp and only water and electric. The cabins were over $100 and the lodge rooms were way over $100. I guess they are trying to cater to the rich DC folks here. This park was near Grafton, WV.

So I consulted my maps and literature and decided to drive to Holly River State Park next. The GPS said that it was only 48 miles away. I forgot that between the mountains and winding roads in WV 48 miles would take me 3 hours! So I set out. I made sure that when my gas gauge read ½ tank or less, that I would fill up as gas stations do tend to be scarce in rural areas. South of Grafton I passed the Anna Jarvis birthplace, who established Mothers Day as an international holiday in 1908. While driving WV119 south I saw a sign for Audra State Park. So I turned left and drove the 6 miles to this park. This one was spread out among 3 different roads and there were residences mixed in with the park. It was originally B&O railroad property and then a 4-H camp. They had a nice campground. I could not find where the park office was so I asked a maintenance worker where I could get my VIPP card stamped. He said that they should be able to do that at the camp store, which was in the middle of the camping loop. So I went to the store. It was locked. I looked around and there was the familiar VIPP box with the stamp pad and rubber stamp in it. It was on a kiosk adjacent to the store. While I was stamping my VIPP card a robin kept chirping and flying very close to me. I guess it had a nest with young or eggs nearby. I got a very close up look at him. I ate an MRE entrée consisting of meatballs in marinara sauce for lunch at a nearby picnic table. It was good. It then started raining cats and dogs. So I again thought about camping here but didn't. The next few hours would see intermittent rain of varying degrees as I was traveling. This park was located near Buckhannon, WV, though it was a long way from that town.

On I went to Holly River State Park. I still had about 35 miles to go. I travelled WV119->WV20 to get there. I had to go through Buckhannon, WV. Nice town, bad traffic. I got to Holly River State Park around 3:30 PM. Again, this was a very nice park, nice camping facilities and a very nice restaurant. I found the VIPP box on a wall next to the superintendent's office and stamped it there. This park is located near Hacker Valley, WV and is the second largest state park in WV (Watoga State Park, which I still have to visit, is the largest). I had visited 4 WV state parks in 1 day. I was done and ready to go home.

The ride home was interesting in itself. I had to take WV20 back to Buckhannon, WV. I recognized the sign for US48 and decided to take this back to I81 and then home. The area that this road is being built within is called Corridor H. First of all, this road is an engineering marvel. It was conceived in the 1960's, is being constructed over some of the most mountainous terrain in the United States and is one of the most beautiful roads that I have ever driven on. It will be 130 miles long when completed in WV. Various lawsuits have delayed getting certain portions of this road built. Only 3 sections remain to be built: Parsons to Davis, 10 miles and due to be started by 2031; Wardensville to the WV/VA border, 6.8 miles and due to be started in 2027; and in Virginia, 26 miles between the WV/VA border and Strasburg, VA, no action or planning has been done by VA as they are waiting for WV to complete their portion of this road. I predict that some day, this will be the western extension of I66.

The road through the sections not yet completed was windy and hilly. So you could not make good time. The sections that were completed were a pleasure to drive on. The grades were gradual and the views were breathtaking. Between Thomas and Moorefield there are hundreds of wind turbines on the mountain tops that are amazing to watch. I know that some are against wind turbines because they claim that it kills birds that fly into their path. But they are a clean source of energy, are not unsightly and will reduce carbon emissions. It seems like all energy sources have their downsides.

Dusk was approaching as I got back home to Manassas, VA at around 8:30 PM that evening. Yes, this was a crazy thing to do. But it was fun, educational and I now need to visit 7 more WV State Parks to get a $25 WV Parks gift card and a patch.

Mike C

Additional information about US48/Corridor H in WV

To join the WV VIPP Program

Area of WV that I explored   Area of WV that I explored.
  By Google Maps
Sign @ Tygart Lake SP, WV
  Sign @ Tygart Lake SP,
  WV. By Mike Calabrese

View of lake @ Tygart Lake SP, WV
  View of lake @ Tygart Lake SP,
  WV. By Mike Calabrese
Bulletin Board @ Holly River SP, WV
  Bulletin Board @ Holly River SP
  WV. By Mike Calabrese
HQ/Restaurant @ Holly River SP, WV
  HQ/Restaurant @ Holly River SP
  WV. By Mike Calabrese
Relatives in Thomas, WV?
  Relatives in Thomas, WV?.
  By Mike Calabrese










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