Get Tucker’d In Tucker County, WV
In January we were invited to Tucker County, WV for a FAM (familiarization) tour sponsored by the Tucker County tourism gurus, and decided that it would make a perfect subject for the February “Road Trip” column. Most people associate Canaan Valley and the ski areas as the places to be in Tucker County but there are a few other happening places in the county that are well worth checking out.
Canaan Valley is one of the premier winter destinations where recreation and relaxation options are plentiful. Downhill skiers and snowboarders of all levels will love the 43 slopes and trails of Canaan and Timberline Mountains. Canaan Valley has a vertical drop of 850 feet and over 180 inches of average annual snowfall. The resort also offers cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating and snow tubing at the new tubing park. Although this time of year it is all about the winter activities, Canaan Valley is a four-season destination and a showpiece for the State of West Virginia and the West Virginia State Park system. Vast recreational opportunities and accommodations are a calling card to visitors returning to or discovering the Tucker County area and the many facets of services and hospitality.
We did stay at the newly refurbished lodge at it deserves some mention. The nearly four-decade old lodge structures, having served the public well beyond the expectations of a tourism industry standard, have yielded to a new 32 million dollar, 160-room lodge complex. The new complex brings a certain degree of sophistication to the rest of the casual, comfortable rooms that we have been using for years. The North and South wings of the new lodge are four levels with each level having 42 rooms. The configuration, which includes eight suites, creates a total of 160 sleeping rooms. Some guest rooms include fireplaces, balconies, ADA access, VIP suites and individual climate control. The lodge also has both a formal dining room with an adjacent lounge as well as a snack/sandwich type restaurant next to the lobby. There are also workout facilities, suanas, a hot tub, indoor pool and game rooms to keep the whole family occupied. In addition to the lodge, there are also individual cabins for rent with large fireplaces.
Getting to the ski slopes is a breeze as there is a shuttle bus that runs from the lodge to the slopes at both Canaan and Timberline. In addition to the ski slopes the resort has recently opened their new snow tube park. With space for up to 16 lanes and one of the longest runs in the eastern states, the park boasts a down slope of 1,200 feet and a boardwalk conveyor that makes getting to the top a quick ride. They have moved the snow tubing area away from the ski slopes and it has its own warming hut, which was part of the resort build out. This is something that everyone can participate in since you don’t have to have any particular snow sport skills. Check out the “SkiTheValley” promotion this winter by logging on to SkiTheValley.com.
For those hearty souls who look to cross-country skiing there is White Grass. Originally built as the Weiss Knob Ski Area in 1959, today Chip Chase and his staff maintain over 60 km of trails. When you meet Chip Chase you will think you have known him your whole life. Chip moved to Canaan about 30 years ago to run White Grass. He moved there from Alexandria, Virginia where he attended Mount Vernon high school, and also was a fan of the Old Town Crier. Indeed, it is a small world. The lodge at White Grass is small and usually full of folks waiting on lunch or dinner. The food is simple and organic for the most part and, more importantly, delicious. The staff is comprised of some of the most laid back people you will find anywhere. Think the real hippies from the 60’s. This is a definite place to seek out on your trip.
While in Tucker County it is well worth it to drive 12 miles to Davis and pay a visit to Blackwater Falls State Park. The image on the cover of this issue is what the falls look like in winter. They are even more amazing during the summer months. Blackwater is named for the falls of the Blackwater River whose amber-colored waters plunge five stories then twist and tumble through an eight-mile long gorge. The “black” water is a result of tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. The falls are one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia. On January 21, the new sled run was opened at Blackwater Falls. The new and improved sled run lets sledders race down more than a quarter-mile of fresh-groomed mountain snow. From the bottom, the new “Wonder Carpet” conveyor system whisks sledders-with their sleds-effortlessly back to the mountaintop, where they can do it all over again.
There are several dining and fun shopping options in this area. Be sure to ask the locals for recommendations. That’s what we did and we weren’t disappointed. Keep the name Sirianni’s Pizza in mind.
Tucker County is also very active in the warmer months as well. The parks have miles of bicycle trails for mountain biking, and the resort at Canaan has an eighteen-hole golf course and large outdoor swimming pool along with several summertime events.
Getting to Tucker County is a breeze with the extension of Route 48 open to Mount Storm. This state highway (known as Corridor H) was built across the tops of mountains and runs from Wardensville to Mount Storm eliminating the stop and go of driving through the small towns. The trip is 182 miles and takes about 3 hours and 15 minutes. For more information on any of the aforementioned activities and everything else, call 800-782-2775 or log on to canaanvalley.org.
Go get Tucker’d!
Written by: Bob Tagert