Traveling during the week is so much better for smaller crowds and more quiet. We wanted to pick somewhere new but without hitting serious mountains or driving to far, so we weren’t sure where to head. Finally West Virginia was narrowed down to as a beautiful and new destination for us, mostly based on the idea of seeing the new River Gorge bridge. That is about as extensive as our plans and ideas got.
We found a state park that was near the bridge and it had a beautiful mill that appeared on the cover of just about every WV website and pamphlet. We also just bought a used Dodge Durango to more easily pull our trailer. Thank goodness! The Jeep struggled to get “uphill” to Raleigh, the mountains of WV would have left us stranded. And since we did not bother to look at where this state park was elevation wise, we would have been in serious trouble.
Babcock State Park
Of course when you drive in WV you have to remember that driving on any road other than the interstate you need to add substantial time to your mileage. W headed off the highway right at nightfall which made for even more cautious driving around the curves and hills. We finally reached Hilltop and made our way in to the check-in station at Babcock State Park. This happens to be sparsely staffed but we did end up getting there when staff was present, but they had a cool honor system for checking in. The park did not accept reservations online which had made us very nervous since we were driving quite a distance, but we had our pick of spots, and the park ranger gave her recommendation of the vest spots, which we of course took. This was our first night time setup but by new we’re getting pretty good at the basics. Exploring comes in the morning!
What a beautiful wake up
As the fog cleared we drove to the main entrance of the park and headed to the top for a sunrise view. It was nice that there was a lot of driving access to get to the different parts of the park. We checked out trails and found some neat little trails and spots. Then on to the main spot!
The grist mill we had seen so many pictures of did not disappoint! With the leaves changing and the waterfalls surrounding it, how picturesque!
We walked the area and tried to stay out of everyone else’s pictures…so many people were there with their professional set ups to capture this beauty. There were also trails that led down to the cabins that we decided to go check out. It made me wish we had stayed in one they were so cute! Each had a walking trail down to the cabin that sat apart from each neighbor. Down here we also found a swinging bridge that baffled Dodger but he had no fear of.
One of the best finds was the natural arch that was down a short trail right off the road. Because it was the middle of the week we had this spot, like several others, all to ourselves!
A little about the campground
With about 50 sites in three different areas, the campground was nice, quiet, and spread out. Dodger chased deer every morning and we were told to watch out for the pesky raccoons that seem to be Houdini’s at getting into food. This was our first campground without water hooks ups but they did have a filing station and sink for washing in the center of the sites. The bathrooms were so wonderfully clean I thoroughly enjoyed the showers and they also had laundry in the attached building.
New River Gorge Bridge
It’s just a bridge, but really something to see! We headed to the main visitors center which had a nice park atmosphere. There you can find a trail and steps that lead down to several landings with beautiful views of the bridge and gorge. Dodger of course had no problem with the stairs but it is up to the humans how far you want to descend and have to climb back up again. However…the view is worth the climb!
No plans mean plans change
We spent 3 days in WV hiking and exploring, but Kelley was still working which meant daily trips across the bridge to Fayetteville so we could spend time at Starbucks for their wifi. We thought we would stay a the state park a bit longer but we didn’t have any permanent plans which meant we could change them.
We talked about Mount Airy on the way past it a few days before so we figured while we were up that direction, why not check it out. So we started the trip back toward home to start the second part of out trip back in NC…