On Wednesday, May 29, 2019 I did a 700 mile plus driving loop in West Virginia
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
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.
Additional information about US48/Corridor H in WV
To join the WV VIPP Program
Area of WV that I explored.|
By Google Maps
Sign @ Tygart Lake SP,
WV. By Mike Calabrese
View of lake @ Tygart Lake SP,
WV. By Mike Calabrese
Bulletin Board @ Holly River SP
WV. By Mike Calabrese
HQ/Restaurant @ Holly River SP
WV. By Mike Calabrese
Relatives in Thomas, WV?.
By Mike Calabrese