Travel 264 mile today
Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center
Located at the junction of Rt. 150 and Rt. 39/55, the visitor center offers
information about the national forest and other nearby attractions. An exhibit
hall and audio visual programs provide interpretation of forest ecosystems and
local history. Special programs and guided tours can be arranged.
Hours: Memorial Day through Labor Day: 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.
January through April and November: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sat. and Sun.
May, Sept. and Oct.: 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fri., Sat. and Sun.
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
The largest area of bogs in West Virginia occurs within this 750 acre National
Natural Landmark. Bogs are acidic wetlands typically found in Canada and the
northern United States. To protect this fragile area, a half-mile long
barrier-free boardwalk has been constructed for visitor use. Guided tours are
conducted at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday throughout the summer months or can
be specially arranged by contacting the Cranberry Mountain Visitor Center.
Cranberry Glades Boardwalk
Cranberry Glades Botanical Area
The Cranberry Glades is the largest area of bogs, or acidic wetlands,
in West Virginia, a unique and exotic ecosystem on 750 acres. This
spectacular and beautiful area was established by the United States
Forest Service in 1965, to protect and preserve over 60 unique plant
species, many of them descended from seeds that took root here over
10,000 years ago.
Whether you are looking at an individual fuchsia-colored Wild Orchid
or taking in the beauty of the bog plains, there is a special
tranquility found only here.
The Glade’s fascinating sphagnum bogs are similar to that found in
“Muskegs” of the Artic Tundra. When you first enter the area, you
will notice Red Spruce, hemlock and Yellow Birch trees.
Along the left side of the boardwalk you may see a tree that has
fallen over. The shallow roots so necessary for survival here do
not adequately anchor trees against strong winds. Thus, the very
adaptation which allows these trees to live here can also cause their
Carnivorous or insect-eating plants also make their home in the bogs.
The half-mile boardwalk was constructed so you can enjoy the area
without disturbing this fragile community.
Keep a watchful eye as you walk through the area and you might spy
some of these wild animals: American Black Bear, WV Northern
Flying Squirrel, Red-tailed Hawk, American Bald Eagle, Red Fox, coyote,
White-tailed Deer, Cooper Hawk, and Eastern Screech-Owl.
As you walk along the boardwalk, you might see some of these plants:
Bishop’s Cap, Jewelweed, False Hellebore, Indian Pipe, Turtlehead, Wild
Raisin, Sundew, Grass Pink Orchid, and the Pitcher Plant.
The wheelchair accessible boardwalk is available for self guided
tours and pre-arranged tours made in advance.
Cranberry Mountain Nature Center
Open April through November
Perched on the edge of Cranberry Mountain in the Monongahela National
Forest on Highway 39/55 is the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center.
Operated by the USDA Forest Service, the Nature Center features live
programs on birds of prey as well as poisonous and nonpoisonous snakes
of West Virginia.
An exhibit hall and audio visual programs provide interpretation of
forest ecosystems and local history. Noted guest speakers often
visit with programs on wildlife, Indian folk lore, and forest
You will find nature books for sale as well as informational
brochures and maps. Thousands of people visit the Center each year
from April through November to learn about the area.
|A photography picture of wooden boardwalk
path that leads through Cranberry Glades.
Picture taken summer 2004.
A half-mile boardwalk has been constructed through two of the bogs so
you can enjoy the area without disturbing this fragile community. Help
protect these bogs and stay on the boardwalk, and leave the flowers for
others to enjoy. Remember...many of these unique plants are descended
from seeds that took root here over 10,000 years ago! With your help,
they will continue to live here, making Cranberry Glades a special place
to visit for a long time to come! The boardwalk for this area is
"Wow!" reads a zany sign atop a metal pole. "See the unbelievable.
The pole juts out of the top of a corrugated metal Quonset hut, along
with several American flags. A rainbow of stars, teardrops, question marks,
and hypno-swirls adorn the hut's exterior, along with another emphatic
"Wow!" Protruding from its side is an old VW beetle, nose buried, brake
lights almost to the road shoulder, its exterior embellished with painted
daisies, bird poop, a "Love" license plate, and a loosely-rendered message:
At the end of the hut, over its entrance, squats a large, black gorilla.
The Mystery Hole definitely knows how to catch the eyes of passing
motorists. Its message may be confusing, but no one seems to mind.
Will and Sandra Morrison own The Mystery Hole. Original owner Donald
Wilson "discovered" its mysterious powers in 1972, and did a good business
from the tourists who flock to this part of the New River Gorge, which is a
mecca for rafters. Time, however, was even more powerful than the Hole.
Wilson closed his attraction in 1996 and died soon afterward. The Hole was
left exposed to vandals and other chaotic forces.
The Morrisons have put in a lot of hard work to restore the Hole to its
1970s glory. This was especially hard for them, as they had moved here from
Michigan in a risky career maneuver. Working from old photos and the
memories of local folks, they have brought the much-beloved attraction back
Visitors pay to tour the Hole in the Quonset hut gift shop, then walk
outside and around the corner to the entrance. There is a stairway down into
the unknown (or perhaps just the quonset hut basement).
Over it is a large clown painted on a piece of plywood, and a fresh set
of declamatory signs.
"An experience that will intrigue you the rest of your life."
"Nature's gravity seems to have gone haywire and your sense of balance
is extremely upset."
"If your heart can take it, see the laws of nature defied."
The biggest sign of all lists the "Rules of the Hole," which include "No
cameras or cell phones," "People with heart ailment, vertigo, or high blood
pressure do not enter," "Not responsible for accidents or after effects,"
and "Shoes recommended." The Hole must be powerful indeed to merit such
It is difficult to describe what goes on within The Mystery Hole, since
it is so mysterious that we are forbidden to reveal it. We can tell you
(since it's in the brochure) that you will see a ball roll uphill and a
person sitting in a chair somehow balanced on a strip of wood on a wall.
Those who have visited other
"Mystery" attractions can guess at some of the other freaky hoo-ha that
goes on here -- and staging it in a sealed-in underground "hole" is a unique
touch that improves its effect. The "Miss Mystery Spot," and "Miss New River
Gorgeous" gags are also enjoyable -- but that's all that we can say.
Sandy and Will are nice people who perhaps are a little overprotective of
their attraction. Maybe the mysterious forces that fill the hole have
overflowed to entrance the minds of those who guard it. Will in particular
hints that he has received many, many offers -- in the millions of dollars
-- to reveal the secrets of his attraction. He has turned them all down.
- US Hwy 60, Ansted, WV
- West of town. On US 60 at mile marker 44, just west of Hawks
Nest State Park.
- W-M 10:30-6 (summer); reduced hrs/days off-season; wknds only -
Apr. (Call to verify)
Day 6 Alternate with coal mine tour added and Mystery Hole
This will add 15 miles to the day and require return
trip by express way.
281 Miles if day 6 Alternate is used.
World's Longest Single Arch Steel Span Bridge
West Virginians are proud of this bridge over the New River Gorge, the
second highest in the world (876 feet down to the water). We even saw a
painting of it in the
Virginia State Penitentiary, by an artist-convict who was later killed
by a knife through the eye.
The view of the bridge from its overlook near the visitors center is
impressive, but it's to West Virginia's credit that they not only look at
their bridge -- they have fun with their bridge. That happens every third
Saturday in October, on Bridge Day, "West Virginia's largest one-day
festival." The bridge is closed to traffic and a quarter of a million people
converge to watch hundreds of thrill-happy rappellers and parachutists
disappear into the gorge below.
It is, as official state tourism literature makes clear, "the only day
that jumping from the bridge is permitted."
World's Longest Single Arch Steel Span Bridge
- US Hwy 19, Fayetteville, WV
- Northeast of town on US 19 across the New River Gorge. The
overlook is just north of the bridge, east side
Canyon Rim Visitor Center
The primary purpose of Canyon Rim Visitor Center
is to act as a visitor contact station for area
information and for interpretation of the natural,
cultural, recreational, and historic values of the
New River Gorge. With an estimated 300,000 visitors
each year, the center provides the park with a
nationally recognized facility, revealing the beauty
of New River Gorge National River to the nation and
The use of natural materials in the building and
surrounding landscape achieve a harmony between the
visitor center and the rugged New River Gorge. These
finely crafted materials of sandstone and red oak
fuse with the exposed ledge of sandstone prevalent
in this section of the gorge. As time passes, the
harmony of the visitor center and the New River
Gorge will be inseparable.
Features and Attractions
The visitor center features an exhibit room
filled with photographs and exhibits on the people,
towns, and industry of the gorge. Other displays
focus on the recreation and natural history of the
area. Visitors can enjoy two videos; on the
construction of the New River Gorge Bridge, and on
how the forces of nature created the massive
V-shaped gorge. The auditorium provides visitors an
orientation slide program on the park, and other
special features and programs.
The most easily recognized attractions of the
site are the views of the gorge and bridge. The back
deck of the center offers a two-mile view southward
into the park. Visitors discover the striking size
of the gorge with one of the world's oldest rivers
at the bottom. A short hiking trail descends into
the gorge on a wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk has
two observation decks which offer unobstructed views
of the longest steel arch span in the western
hemisphere and the mile wide gorge it spans. A fully
accessible ramp provides access to the upper
Publications & Sales
A sales area offering publications specific
to the park and surroundings is provided as a
service to visitors. A large selection of books on
cultural and natural history, recreation,
environment and nature, and children's topics are
carried. Topographic maps of the park are also
available here. The sales area is managed by Eastern
National, a non-profit organization that returns its
proceeds back to the park.
Programs are offered throughout the year,
with the summer months providing the most offerings.
Programs and activities include; evening programs,
tours of the visitor center and boardwalk,
children's activities, films about Appalachian life,
and a variety of guided walks and hikes. School and
educational groups can arrange for special programs
through Parks as Classrooms.
The Canyon Rim visitor Center would not be complete
without a staff of interpretive park rangers. These
rangers provide information about the park resources
and answer any other questions visitors might have.
Additional visitor contact stations are provided at
Thurmond, Grandview, and Sandstone. We encourage
visitors to explore all of New River Gorge National
Season and Hours
Year-round: Daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day.
Canyon Rim Visitor Center is located on U.S. Route
19, just north of Fayetteville, WV. U.S. Route 19 is
easily reached from Interstates I-64 and I-79, as
well as U.S. Route 60. Take a look at our map of the
162 Visitor Center Road
Lansing, WV 25862
Coal train tour heads into the mine.
Exhibition Coal Mine
Coal is the lumpy, black foundation upon which West Virginia rests, both
physically and economically. A recent flap of mine explosions and cave-ins
reminded us that West Virginia is still chock full of deadly holes where men
toil to heat our homes. There really is no attraction better suited to this
state than a coal mine.
Don't let the "Exhibition" in the name of this place fool you. Beckley's
isn't a phony, like the fake factory at Hershey's Chocolate World
in Pennsylvania. This once served as a working coal mine. It closed in 1910,
the city grew up around its entrance, and the area surrounding it became a
city park. In 1960 the mine was re-opened as a tourist attraction. We've
been on plenty of underground tours, but never one where the main thrust is
to tell you how to blast a bigger and deeper hole in the ground.
You're seated in mine cars and driven in what is essentially a big loop
under a hillside, with plenty of stops so that your guide -- an ex-coal
miner -- can point out displays in the murky darkness and fill your skull
with mine arcana.
Beckley was a low seam coal mine. "Low seam" means a low ceiling -- a
fact that you need to remember when you visit. The ceiling is only an inch
or two above your head in your mine car. If you stand up while the train is
in motion, you will die. This is a grungy tour -- full of arcane facts and
with nothing really attractive to see. It's not really geared for kids or
the ladies, though our tour includes a mix of family units. You never get
out of your seat, and it's cold and damp in a coal mine, so bring a
Our guide, Charles, peppers the tour with a well worn set of jokes that
don't seem so bad when they're delivered by an authentic coal miner. For
example, he tells us about "the fire boss" -- the guy whose job was to check
for methane gas and then try to burn it off before it exploded and killed
him. "We went through a lot of fire bosses," Charles says. "A pretty good
job for a mother-in-law!"
"Or a brother-in-law," he adds, quickly realizing that our train probably
includes several mothers-in-law.
The coal seam in Beckley is 180 feet underground and 40 inches high.
There are plenty of places where it can still be seen, which makes one
wonder why the mine was closed -- except maybe because the place was so
Charles shows us an example of a "widowmaker" -- a petrified tree stump
uncovered in the ceiling, surrounded by a thin ring of coal where the bark
was. Widowmakers had a habit of falling and crushing miners. "If this roof
collapses," Charles adds in another well-rehearsed line, "we'll at least
know there's nowhere around here we could be buried deeper or cheaper."
The mine has a weird smell -- like bad oil, we hope, not methane. Charles
is oblivious to it as he does his best to entertain the group. He turns off
the lights to give us the obligatory "moment of total darkness." He gets on
the floor to demonstrate how miners would use "rail scooters" instead of
crawling. He tells us that miners would discourage water theft by putting
their false teeth in their water pails. He shows us the world's first
mechanical coal scoop, invented in 1963 by a miner, and promptly stolen and
patented by somebody else. "Probably a Yankee," Charles cracks.
The Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine is a gritty change of pace from the
typical sanitized commercial cave. It's occasionally used as a set for
independent features and cable TV movies. Tour guides like Charles work as
extras, either as miners or as corpses.
Exhibition Coal Mine Overview
Beckley, West Virginia, and you will find many scenic and recreational
opportunities awaiting you. Two of the most unique attractions are the
Beckley Exhibition Coal and the Youth Museum of Southern West Virginia.
These popular institutions officially joined in 2002, in an effort to
portray the history, culture and character of this uncommon coal-mining
Exhibition Coal Mine
The Exhibition Coal Mine is the largest and most popular coal heritage
destination in the region. After years of planning, the Exhibition Coal Mine
completed an extensive renovation that includes the 14,000 sq. foot, Rahall
Company Store, visitor center, coal museum, fudgery and gift shop. A visit
will begin here with the purchase of a ticket and a visit to the extensive
collection of mining artifacts and tools, geological specimens, photographs,
and other features of early life among the coal towns of southern West
The main attraction is a tour that takes visitors below ground, under the
supervision of an experienced veteran coal miner. Traveling 1500 feet
beneath the hillsides of New River Park, visitors are carried along track,
riding authentic "man cars" from the mine entrance, to old working areas of
the coal mine and back. Stops throughout the tour explore the history of
low-seam coal mining from the hand-loading days into the era of modern
In addition to the underground mine tour, visitors can explore the
historical coal camp situated throughout the grounds. Lovingly restored, the
Coal Company House, Superintendent's Home, Pemberton Coal Camp Church, and
the Helen Coal Camp School, give our guests a true representation of early
20th century coal camp life.
After your visit, buy a piece of history to take home with you! The Beckley
Exhibition Coal Mine’s Gift Shop has many unique local items for sale and
finish the visit with a delicious piece of home made fudge from the Fudgery.
April 1 - November 1 Daily 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Last tour underground is 5:30 pm
Bring a jacket - the mine is always 58 degrees!
For more information on the Exhibition Coal Mine and events at the Youth
call 304-256-1747 or 304-252-3730
ADULTS: $20.00 (ages 13 - 54)
CHILDREN: $12.00 (ages 4 - 12)
SENIOR ADULT: $15.00 (55 and over)
The admission price includes the underground tour, as well as admission to
the coal miner's house, superintendent's house, miner's shanty, coal camp
church, and camp school. It also includes admission to the Youth Museum and
the Mountain Homestead.
For more information, call 304-256-1747
Exhibition Coal Mine
- 513 Ewart Ave., Beckley, WV
- I-77/64 exit 42. Hwy 16 (Valley Drive/Robert C. Byrd Drive)
north into town, follow the signs. Cross Hwy 3 (Harper Rd), then a
left on Paint St. into New River City Park.
Beckley, West Virginia
Peace Totem with Propeller and Time Capsule
25 feet tall, topped with a crashed airplane propeller,
painted bright colors. Oh, and it has a time capsule.
- 509 Ewart Ave., Beckley, WV
- West side of downtown. Outside the Youth Museum of
Southern West Virginia, which is in New River Park.
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