NOTE: The descriptions of the places in this guide were accurate at the time the articles were posted. Please be advised that you should call ahead before traveling to any of them.

Seneca Rocks, West Virginia
From Below, On or Above - The View Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!

By: Michelle Harper

If you truly want to get away from it all, a trip to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia is just the thing to blow off the cares of your daily grind. The area offers everything from spelunking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, rafting, rock climbing - virtually anything you can think of for that "man vs nature" feeling. There isn't a shopping mall, fast food chain or high rise in sight.

Smoke Hole Cavern As the area offers more than can be enjoyed in a mere day, it is well worthwhile to spend at least one night. A great place to stay is in nearby Smoke Hole, West Virginia at Smoke Hole Caverns Hotel. The location is reminiscent of those tourist stops of the 1950's and 60's. The hotel is adjacent to the entrance of Smoke Hole Caverns and comes complete with "West Virginia's Largest Souvenir and Gift Shop". A tour of the caverns offers an insiders view of a moonshine still as clever enterprising bootleggers used to take full advantage of the geography of the area and many stills were hidden among the caverns. Other highlights of the tour include the world's longest ribbon stalactite and an artesian well from which you can drink if you wish. Seneca Caverns, West Virginia's largest cavern, is also a few miles away if you would like to further explore West Virginia's underground wonders.

Painting Outside Smoke Hole Gift Shop After you have thoroughly explored life below the beautiful West Virginia Mountains, visit Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area located a few miles away in the Monongahela National Forest for a day hike or rock climbing adventure. Trail maps and guides are available at the Seneca Rocks Vistor Center. Rock climbing should be reserved for those who are experienced and guides are required. A plaque located at the base of one of the trails dedicated to a climber who died on the rocks serves as a reminder of the danger involved. For a tamer approach, hike the trail up to the observation tower. The view of the Allegheny Mountains and the North Fork River valley is spectacular from there. Hiking the trail takes about 3.5 hours and is quite strenuous so be sure to carry plenty of water with you.

Harpers Old Country Store If you prefer to take a more relaxing approach, a great place to visit is Harpers Old Country Store. In addition to being a general country store, Harpers offers dining with a bird's eye view of Seneca Rocks in "The Front Porch" restaurant. You can just kick back with a cool drink and a home made pizza and watch rock climbers sweating and clawing their way up the craggy rock face. It's better than TV!

Seneca Rock The route to Seneca Rocks, West Virginia is just made for twisty lovers. To really take advantage of one of West Virginia's best rides, take Rt. 55 from Virginia to Seneca Rocks and take Rt. 33 back from Seneca Rocks to Virginia. Not only will you see signs for such exotic sounding places as Lost River and Lost City, you will also find that both routes are beautiful, challenging and filled with sharp steep curves that are sure to satisfy even the most adventurous rider. Be forewarned though, amenities such as gas stations are few and far between on these routes. So fill your tank before you begin your ride and carry plenty of water and snacks with you. Take your time. Maybe stop and have a picnic. Getting there is definitely half the fun.

For additional information check out these sites:
Seneca Rocks climbing school
Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides

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