Appalachia holds plenty of awe-inspiring vistas, fascinating historical sites, and quaint towns. Here are several you don’t want to miss.1. Harpers Ferry
The little town of Harpers Ferry wedges itself into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains at West Virginia’s northeastern border. Its stunning natural setting and rich historical value make it a popular stop for tourists.
John Brown’s 1859 raid on the local Armory and the event’s influence on the Civil War give this tiny town national significance. Learn more through guided living history tours at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
Here you’ll find the confluence of two mighty rivers and a mighty trail. The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers join in this low-lying valley. On any given hike through the wetlands, you might spot a great blue heron or a painted turtle. You can also hike the famous Appalachian Trail for even more wildlife sightings.2. National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Imagine a telescope powerful enough to collect radio waves from distant galaxies! This marvel of technology actually exists—and operates year-round from one of the most remote regions of the United States.
The Green Bank Telescope perches on a mountaintop in the Monongahela National Forest. This nontraditional telescope isn’t for peering through; it’s for collecting radio waves that give us information about objects in faraway galaxies. The 16-million ton telescope stands 485 feet tall. Though mammoth, it aims with accuracy within a single arc second.
Guided tours run throughout the summer, and self-guided hikers and cyclists are welcome year-round.3. Smoke Hole Gorge
Smoke Hole Gorge is not exactly on the beaten path. In fact, this spectacular white-water canyon in the Monongahela National Forest is extremely difficult to reach. But any visitor will tell you, awestruck, that it was worth the effort.
At Smoke Hole, the South Branch Potomac River funnels itself between two mountains. Raging waters have carved a 25-mile run into the rockbed—much of it with half-mile vertical walls. Constant mists rise from the swirling foam.
Experienced kayakers and white-water canoeists will get the best view of the gorge—but they’ll be concentrating on the rapids, not the scenery. You can access part of the gorge by land if your vehicle can handle a few unpaved miles of road, and you’ll enjoy some excellent primitive camping and picnicking sites along the way.4. New River Gorge Region
There’s something for everyone in the New River Gorge area of West Virginia, whether you bask in the scenery, raft the white waters, or just want a taste of history.
The New River itself is a piece of history, as it is perhaps the second oldest river in the world. It’s spanned at one point by the largest single-span steel-arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere. If you’re there in the fall for Bridge Day, you can join about 200,000 other visitors who watch adventurers rappel and BASE jump off the 876-foot bridge. Several outfitters provide white-water rafting adventures along this ancient river.
For a tamer adventure, head to nearby Glade Creek Grist Mill. Located inside Babcock State Park, the mill still grinds by water power. Visitors can hear the groan of the mill wheel and taste freshly ground corn and buckwheat flours.
Click here to read the full article of "Destination: Appalachian Highlands," which gives other great places to visit in West Virginia.