Vacation Plans? We’ve Got a Few Ideas
Just in case you missed the memo, January 25, 2022, is National Plan for Vacation Day (I promise, I’m not making this one up). Now if you’ve never heard of National Plan for Vacation Day, don’t feel bad. I hadn’t heard of it either, but after educating myself on the topic, I’ve decided it’s really not a bad idea. Apparently, recent survey findings have disclosed that since sometime around 2015 many Americans have not been using their vacation days. So National Plan for Vacation Day was born, with the last Tuesday in January set aside to commemorate the day. The idea is to reserve that day to make vacation planning a priority – sitting down with family and loved ones, pulling out your work or school calendar, deciding where and when to travel, and locking it down in your vacation trip planner.
Most of those that look into these things agree, taking time off from work or school actually pays benefits to our productivity in the long run. Sometimes just stepping back briefly from our workload can aid in moving it forward. And that’s where the vacation comes into play. The idea of going on a vacation (or a holiday as the British call it) grew in popularity in America around the end of the 19th century thanks to a young preacher named William H.H. Murray. It seems young Murray had paid a visit to the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York and was so convinced of the physical and spiritual benefits of time spent there; he began giving Sunday evening lectures on the notion of leisure time spent away in the wilderness. In 1869 a collection of his lectures on the subject was published under the title of Adventures in the Wilderness (also known as Camp-Life in the Adirondacks). Murray’s book became a turning point in the story of American travel and is, in some circles, even credited for a change in our modern-day vernacular. Specifically speaking, why do Americans take a vacation instead of a holiday – the idea being, we briefly vacate our homes for some leisure time elsewhere (I’m still not sure why the British call it a holiday, God bless them).
Now with that little history lesson behind us we’ve come full circle, back to National Plan for Vacation Day. And in the spirit of Mr. Murray’s advice, when it comes to planning your leisure time in the wilderness, we at Nature’s Mountain Playground are all over that one. With five state parks, two state forests, and over one-third of the Monongahela National Forest calling Pocahontas County, West Virginia home, who needs to travel to the Adirondack Mountains? Whether you’re looking for a rustic wilderness day trip, an upscale mountain resort experience, or anything in between, here at Nature’s Mountain Playground, we’re convinced you’re bound to find your own wilderness vacation getaway with us. Here are a few suggestions for your consideration, as we look forward to National Plan for Vacation Day.
If your vacation itinerary typically leans a little toward the historical side of things, Nature’s Mountain Playground has a great selection of historical destinations that range from quick guided tours, a county-wide driving excursion, or even an entire town dedicated to preserving its historic beginnings.
Recognized as part of the Civil War Discovery Trail, Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park is one of over 300 sites spread across 16 states that are dedicated to preserving the history of the turbulent and violent years of the American Civil War. Droop Mountain Battlefield is the site of the last significant Civil War battle fought in West Virginia. And with eight hiking trails, an accessible look-out tower, picnic shelters and play areas, and battle reenactments scheduled in October (on even-numbered years), Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park is a great choice for anyone interested in Civil War history. For more information on this historic destination go to wvstateparks.com/park/droop-mountain-battlefield-state-park.
Speaking of preserving history, how about a visit to an entire town set to that task? The town of Cass, home to Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, looks pretty much the same as it did in 1901 and that’s just the way the folks there like it. Cass was built that year by the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company for the loggers working in the surrounding mountains. Along with the town, a railroad was also constructed as a means to transport lumber from those mountains to the mill in town. With the decline in the timber industry by the late 1970s, the town of Cass was brought into the state park system, and in time, the railroad was turned into a tourist line and much of the town was repaired and restored to its original 1901 appearance. Today, train excursions from the Cass depot will transport visitors back (on the original 1901 rails) into the rugged mountains once timbered over a century ago. And the historical journey doesn’t end there. A leisurely walk around town will provide you with opportunities to visit attractions like The Company Store, The Last Run Restaurant as well as the Cass Historical Theater and Historical Museum. If you’re interested in the timber industry and the great trains that rode the rails of Pocahontas County, you definitely want to plan your trip here around a visit to Cass Scenic Railroad State Park. You can find more details on this historic destination by going to wvstateparks.com/park/cass-scenic-railroad-state-park.
How about combining your historical interests with a little road trip planning? Jump behind the wheel and set out on the Quilt Trail of Pocahontas County. This county-wide excursion will take you to nineteen different locations where you’ll find specially selected quilt patterns (many measuring eight feet by eight feet) mounted on various barns and builds throughout the county. Most of the quilt patterns have hidden meaning within the pattern relating back to the Civil War. Be sure to swing by one of our visitor centers to pick up a guide pamphlet that not only lays out the trail but also explains the message within the quilt patterns. And since you’ll already be exploring the county, why not stop by the Pearl S. Buck Museum located in Hillsboro. Enjoy a guided tour of the famous Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s childhood home and learn how this great woman from the mountains of West Virginia impacted China and the world. If your travel itinerary planner includes historical weekend getaways in West Virginia, look no further than Pocahontas County.
Outdoor adventures are what we’re all about here in Nature’s Mountain Playground. And if you’re looking to make vacation plans in search of that little outdoor adrenaline rush or simply want something out of the ordinary, the possibilities here are almost endless. Your outdoor vacation plans can begin with a visit to Seneca State Forest in Dunmore. With nearly 12,000 acres of woodlands for hiking and exploring, Seneca State Forest promises a little something for everyone. Whether you’re planning an overnight stay, perched 65 feet above the forest floor, in the Thorny Mountain Fire Tower or something a little more down to earth in one of their rustic cabins or perhaps a little fishing at the four-acre lake, Seneca State Forest should definitely be added to your adventure vacation plans. Check them out at wvstateparks.com/park/seneca-state-forest.
Any outdoor adventure to Nature’s Mountain Playground has got to include mountain biking. Over the years this outdoor activity has exploded in popularity and Pocahontas County has risen to meet the challenge. Whether it’s leisurely, family-friendly trails or professional-grade, downhill systems, whatever the trail, whatever the challenge, we’ve got the trails for you. For those of you looking for a relaxing easy trail with the option of overnight camping along the way, the Greenbrier River Trail can’t be beaten. A former railroad track now converted to a trail for hiking and biking, this 78-mile long trail maintains a one percent grade as it parallels the beautiful Greenbrier River and passes through some of the most scenic areas in Pocahontas County. Relaxing, easy, and family-friendly, the Greenbrier River Trail is the perfect trail for a quick overnight getaway. Check out more details on the Greenbrier River Trail at wvstateparks.com/park/greenbrier-river-trail.
Now if the laid-back pace of the Greenbrier River Trail isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, you just might want to check out the bike trails of Snowshoe Mountain Resort. The Snowshoe Bike Park is an IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) Ride Center and features one of the largest trail systems in the East. Snowshoe has it all. From bike rental and lessons for riders of all ages and skill levels, Snowshoe Bike Park offers all you need for a twisting, turning downhill biking adventure. Learn more about this top-rated ride experience, as well as the many other outdoor adventures Snowshoe has to offer at snowshoemtn.com.
If your travel plans for 2022 fall under the heading of “Leisure Time Off”, then you’ve come to the right place. From tee time to trout fishing, Nature’s Mountain Playground is all the further you need to look. If a day of relaxation for you includes an early tee time then be sure to check out the Raven Golf Course at Snowshoe. This Gary Player-designed course promises challenges and scenic beauty that will have you booking tomorrow’s tee time as soon as you finish the 19th hole. Start with a premier golf course, add a generous portion of Snowshoe’s first-class lodging and dining, then top off with the full works at The Spa at Snowshoe, and you’ve got the recipe for a classic resort getaway. You can find more information on Raven Golf Course at snowshoemtn.com.
And don’t forget, you can always swap out the golf shoes for a pair of hip waders and take advantage of the countless trout streams found throughout Pocahontas County. Whether you’re looking for a keeper for the frying pan or you’re more of a catch and release angler, our remote mountain streams are just waiting for you to wet a line. What could be more relaxing than camping along the Williams River as you contemplate the next fishing hole you’ll try (right after the afternoon nap you had planned)?
Of course, leisure time can also mean setting the clubs and fly rod down and hitting a hiking trail or two. With hundreds of miles of trails throughout Nature’s Mountain Playground, you’ll find plenty of room to get out and stretch your legs while exploring anything from simple boardwalk trails to remote, day-long wilderness hikes. So grab that daypack and an extra water bottle and set out exploring this beautiful slice of West Virginia. Be sure to contact us at pocahontascountywv.com to request a free copy of our Visitor’s Guide to learn more about all the year-round, epic outdoor activities we have to offer in Nature’s Mountain Playground.
Enough to Get You Started
Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m glad I discovered National Plan for Vacation Day. And this January 25th I’m going to sit down and plan my trip because I think the good Rev. Murray was on to something. A little time away in the wilderness really does lift the spirit. Especially today, when we’re plugged in, pulled apart and going non-stop, the notion of getting back to the simplistic beauty of nature is probably more important now than ever before. So whether you choose to call it a vacation or a holiday, either is fine with us, since no matter the name, we believe the best West Virginia vacation spots are found right here in Pocahontas County. And whatever your reason: historical, adventure, leisure or romantic, getaways in West Virginia are always better when you include a little time in the wild beauty of Nature’s Mountain Playground.