West Virginia, USA – Overview and regions

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West Virginia Area, East Coast of the United States
West Virginia Area, East Coast of the United States

West Virginia is within 500 miles of 60% of the U.S. population.
It’s no surprise that many visitors to West Virginia come from large metropolitan cities. With so many outdoor recreation options, West Virginia is the ideal urban-escape choice for many in the East. Approximately 80 percent of the state is covered by forest, which means every county offers quality locales to get out and enjoy nature whether it be low-impact and leisurely‚ high-adrenaline and intense‚ or somewhere in between. West Virginia has more than 1.2 million acres of public land and that allows outdoor recreation enthusiasts time to spend an afternoon or an entire week enjoying West Virginia’s beauty without ever crossing the same point twice.

  • Northern Panhandle
  • Mid-Ohio Valley
  • Metro Valley
  • Mountain Lakes
  • New River/Greenbrier Valley
  • Potomac Highlands
  • Eastern Panhandle
  • Mountaineer Country
  • Hatfield-McCoy Region
Regions of West Virginia, USA
Regions of West Virginia, USA

The 9 West Virginia regions

Northern Panhandle

Hugging the Ohio River, this area of the Northern Panhandle remembers its history: the pioneer families and adventures making their way west along the National Road; the boom that spawned extravagant Victorian homes in Wheeling and Sistersville. Today, that history melds with the new Northern Panhandle, as exciting as those days long past, but now filled with the pleasures of today; great country music, wonderful family resorts and parks, outdoor adventure on the rivers, arts and culture, gracious dining and accommodations.

Mid-Ohio Valley

This region features an intriguing blend between the western frontier of 1800 and the Victorian legacies of the nation’s oil and gas boom. Here country roads wind through the rolling foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and past charming villages nestled along the mighty Ohio River. This area that George Washington once called Augusta is also rich in fine handicrafts, galleries, …

Metro Valley

Steeped in a rich river and railroad heritage, the sister cities of Charleston and Huntington have burgeoned into metropolitan cultural centers highlighting the arts, sophisticated nightlife, historic charm and fine shopping and dining. It’s the excitement of the city, but just minutes away, history, nature, sports, recreation and culture of coal await. Major festivals, cultural opportunities, spectator sports, fine glassmaking and peaceful countrysides contribute to the popularity of the Metro Valley.

Mountain Lakes

Greeting visitors to West Virginia’s heartland are seemingly endless panoramas of sparkling water, fresh air and lush, green mountains. Yes, you’ll come for the lakes, fresh air and mountains, but you’ll also enjoy the history here. Civil War history, that is, at Stonewall Jackson’s boyhood home, Bulltown and Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park. You’ll find no flashy monuments or shopping malls in the Mountain Lakes, and hardly any neon. Easily accessible, the region’s rolling hills, peaceful countryside and deep, clear waters offer adventure for lovers of all kinds of outdoor activities.

New River/Greenbrier Valley

From peaceful farmlands and historic towns to raging whitewater rivers, the New River/Greenbrier Valley is a region of diversity. Resorts, outdoor dramas, parks, natural wonders and amazing engineering feats entice visitors to this busy area. Here scenic beauty and wild rivers provide food for the soul as well as a feast for the eye. There are incredible state parks, adventures awaiting on the mild or wild whitewater of the region and hiking and biking on rail trails or on the backroads and forests of your choice. Explore the mountains and the valleys, the stunning scenery and still untamed terrain, the old railroad towns and the new centers of culture and commerce. Pick your own adventure at a spectacular state park or succumb to the pampering of a world-renowned spa.

Potomac Highlands

The first breathtaking glimpse of the Potomac Highlands challenges visitors to conquer nature in their own special ways. Skiers gather at the Highlands’ downhill and cross country ski areas. Mountain bikers come to take advantage of the steep inclines at the Monongahela National Forest, George Washington National Forest and Lost River State Park. Whitewater fiends finds a worthy challenge in the gnarly little streams that become torrents with spring rains. Rock climbers and spelunkers come to push their personal limits above and below ground. And families come to share spectacular views and cozy cabins in the woods. This outdoor recreation mecca and scenic wonderland is waiting to be discovered by you.

Eastern Panhandle

Feel the tension slip away as you cross the miles to picturesque towns nestled in rolling hills, only a stone’s throw away from the big city lights and bustle. There’s captivating history with Colonial and Civil War roots; terrific shopping for antiques, crafts, contemporary housewares and clothing; your choice of lodging at resorts, spas, bed and breakfast inns and motels; relaxation and adventure on the rivers, roads, raceways and golf courses; plus theater, cinema and fine dining. Steeped in over 200 years of history, this region of West Virginia will enchant one and all.

Mountaineer Country

Start with the descendants of European immigrants who came in the 19th and 20th centuries to mine coal, lay railroads, cut timber and build factories. Add the flock of mountain bikers, hikers, rafters, kayakers, rock climbers and nature lovers who come for the mountains, rivers, lakes and trails. The rolling hills of Mountaineer Country help to preserve the area’s rich mountain customs and old world style. Parks and forests offer scenic overlooks and virgin forests virtually untouched by mankind. Home to research, development and academic tradition, the region is rich in captivating cultural events, fairs, festivals and living history programs.

Hatfield-McCoy Region

The Hatfield-McCoy Mountains raise their craggy backs in the deep southwestern corner of the state, where West Virginia’s mountaineer spirit, like the landscape, has never quite been tamed. The terrain is rugged and the history tumultuous. The people are independent and deeply proud of their heritage. Something about these mountains fosters fearlessness. The region is the boyhood home of world heavyweight champion Jack Dempsey. The land of Logan, the Mingo chief who is credited with instigating the Battle of Point Pleasant to avenge the murders of his family. And, of course, the neighborhood where the Hatfields and McCoys duked it out.

Weather, Climate & Temperatures

Best time to travel
Warm summers and mild winters are awaiting the visitor. During summer temperatures rarely jump above 86 F (30 degree C) and winter temps drop rarely under the freezing point.
regions in the mountains are usually 6-8 degrees F (3-4 degrees C) cooler than valley regions.

Charleston (West Virginia) average temperatures in F (C):

MonthMaxMin
Jan45 (7,2)28 (-2,2)
Feb47 (8,3)28 (-2,2)
Mar55 (12,7)34 (1)
Apr66 (18,8)44 (6,6)
May76 (24,4)53 (11,7)
Jun82 (27,7)61 (16,1)
Jul(29,4)(17,7)
Aug(28,3)(17,2)
Sep85 (26,1)57 (13,9)
Oct68 (20)46 (7,7)
Nov55 (12,7)36 (2,2)
Dec46 (7,7)29 (-1,7)

Data and Facts about the State

West Virginia Flag


State Name
West Virginia – State Abbr.: WV
Statehood
20-Jun-1863
– Statehood Ranking: 35
Land Area
24,078 sqaremiles (62,360 qkm)
– Land Area Ranking: 41
Population
1,808,344
(2000; Census every 10 years)

Capital
Charleston
Biggest City
Charleston
Nickname
The Mountain State
Motto
“Montani Semper Liberi”(== Mountaineers Are Always Free)
Highest Point
1.482 m / 4,862 ft (Spruce Knob)
Lowest Point
73 m / 239 ft (Potomac River at Harpers Ferry)
– Dayligh Saving Time
– yes
Tree
Sugar Maple (Acer saccarum)
Flower
Big Laurel (Rhododendron maximum)
Bird
Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)
Animal
Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
Song
“West Virginia Hills” (by Ellen King and H.E. Engle