Fall doesn’t officially begin until late September, but there’s already a tantalizing crisp in the air. If you’re itching to get out into the mountains and immerse yourself in fall colors, make a beeline for the Potomac Highlands as soon as mid-September.
Tucker County offers the ultimate early fall road trip. The leaves are some of the brightest in the east, and they change sooner even than New England’s, starting as early as September and peaking toward the end of the month. It’s home to the charming twin mountain towns of Davis and Thomas and surrounded by the vast wildernesses of Canaan Valley State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park and the Monongahela National Forest, which includes the iconic Dolly Sods Wilderness.
While Davis and Thomas are tiny, they’re less than three miles apart and offer plenty to warrant an overnight stay. Shops, art galleries, restaurants, music venues and breweries will keep you occupied between outdoor adventures. Cooper House Bed and Cocktail, The Billy Motel, and Mountain Primrose B&B all have their own distinct flair with comfort to match in Thomas, while Canaan Valley Resort has a lodge with plenty of comfortable rooms and sprawling grounds with an assortment of amenities.
Drive down just about any country road in any direction for jaw-dropping views. For the truly amazing panoramas, head to the overlooks at Pase Point, Lindy Point, Table Rock, or even atop the old Olson Fire Tower. For something a little different than the typical fall trees, catch the changing colors of the blueberry bushes on the northern end of Dolly Sods in the Monongahela. The flowing, amber beauty of Blackwater Falls really make the vibrant foliage colors pop.
Explore the region’s beauty with a dash of adventure. Swing right through the bold colored canopies on a zipline at NROCKS Outdoor Adventures, hit the biking trails in Canaan, or paddle the Cheat and Blackwater rivers.
For something more relaxing? Wind through the mountain landscapes on a scenic train ride with Mountain Rail Adventures, then hop off and enjoy the Mountain State Forest Festival (September 30-October 8), a town-wide fall celebration in Elkins.
During peak foliage in Davis, celebrate the season with the Leaf Peepers Festival (September 22-24). From the hearty buckwheat pancakes in the morning to the mountain music in the evenings, it’s a full-on Appalachian fall frenzy: horse-drawn wagon rides, nature hikes, Oktoberfest, scenic chairlift rides, duck races, river boating trips, a 5K race, blacksmith and glassblowing demonstrations, kids rides, a parade, golf tournament, car show and much more.
West Virginia is home to some of the most vivid fall foliage along the East Coast. To get more road trip ideas, visit www.gotowv.com/fall. And if you do decide to jump in the car, take us along for the ride by using the hashtag – #AlmostHeaven.
Chelsea Ruby was appointed Tourism Commissioner by West Virginia’s 36th Governor Jim Justice in January 2017 and now serves as the Executive Director of the West Virginia Tourism Office. Prior to her appointment, Ruby served as Director of Marketing and Communications for the West Virginia Department of Commerce. In 2014, Ruby was named Young Practitioner of the Year by the West Virginia Public Relations Society of America, and in 2015, she was recognized as one of West Virginia’s 40 top young professionals by Generation Next. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and lives in Charleston with her husband Steve and their son Robert.
Like party favors, but for your brain. Enjoy these weekly goodies including viral videos, interesting articles, curated playlists, and more!
- LISTEN: Some tunes to take with you on the road
- CREATE: Ways to make your leaf collection into art
- CHECK OUT: Trip suggestions in Tucker County