Family Adventuring in Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

May 17, 2017 Updated: August 31, 2019

As my family continues our mission to visit all 50 states, we recently turned our attention to “Wild, Wonderful” West Virginia. We left with a deeper appreciation for the warm, kind-hearted people there and the stunning natural beauty of a truly wonderful state.

Our four-day adventure included visiting friends at beautiful Seneca Rocks and then enjoying the family-friendly Stonewall Resort in Roanoke.

Our journey began on a Friday, as we packed up the minivan with all of our travel essentials and settled in for a seven-hour drive southwest from New Jersey. I wish I could bottle up that excited, butterflies-in-the-stomach, permanent-smile-on-your-face feeling the whole family experiences every time we embark on a new adventure together. We might even have a song we sing each time. Ahem.

(Les Palenik/Shutterstock)
(Les Palenik/Shutterstock)

The journey was most enjoyable traveling across Pennsylvania, dipping in and out of Maryland and Virginia, and finally into West Virginia. We oohed and aahed along the way as the beautiful Appalachian Mountains revealed themselves and soon surrounded us.

As the hours ticked down and we neared Seneca Rocks, my 9-year-old (who turned 10 that weekend) was struck by the untouched expanses of land and mountains and the ever-increasing distances between towns. You can drive for miles and then spot a singular home surrounded by nature.

“They must have to travel a far distance to get their groceries,” he remarked from the back seat.

My husband (wisely) stopped for gas before we ventured up the mountain to visit our friends. The final turn on the route took us onto a dirt road with beautiful (and slightly frightening) mountain views as we climbed up.

A supermoon rises over Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County, W. Va. (Steve Heap/Shutterstock)
A supermoon rises over Seneca Rocks in Pendleton County, W.Va. (Steve Heap/Shutterstock)

We immensely enjoyed reuniting with our best man’s parents, whose family has owned their land since the mid-1800s. Their adorable dogs (who assist them in hunting) greeted us and we explored their lovely home, much of which they built themselves, and property where they have cattle and a family cemetery. Their son and his young family have a home there as well, “just up the hill.”

The views around every turn were stunning and the level of self-reliance and independence required to live there was not lost on us. It was awesome.

We enjoyed an outdoor dinner in the town of Seneca Rocks at the Front Porch Restaurant with a perfect view of the rocks themselves. Seneca Rocks, a popular attraction for hikers and rock climbers, is said to be the only “true peak” (only accessible via rock climbing) on the East Coast. The striking formation is a sight to be seen.

We stopped at Harper’s Olde General Store, built in 1902 and still run by the same family, which offered a vast array of souvenirs, handmade goods, and coon-skin caps, among many other things. We then said goodbye and headed westward.

For our three-night stay in West Virginia, we called the Stonewall Resort in Roanoke home. The drive from Seneca Rocks featured a glorious front-row seat to the sun setting behind the mountains.

A collection of images from the Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, W. Va. (Stonewall Resort)
A collection of images from the Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, W.Va. (Stonewall Resort)

Stonewall Resort, located in the state park of the same name, features a AAA Four-Diamond lodge, an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course, cabins, campgrounds, a spa, a marina, and copious recreational activities. It’s set upon the Stonewall Jackson Lake and surrounded by beautiful mountains.

We arrived at Stonewall before dark and were immediately impressed with the beauty of the grounds and gorgeous lobby at the lodge. Checking in went smoothly.

I was slightly concerned when I found that our room was on the first floor with a “park view” and even more alarmed when I saw how close it was to the elevator and pool (likely a result of my booking late for a holiday weekend). However, my fears were put to rest when we experienced no noise issues and enjoyed the convenient locale. Of course, a lake view would have been great.

Upon waking the next morning, we enjoyed coffee at the convenient lobby coffee shop and a first swim in the indoor-outdoor pool before heading to what was easily the highlight of our stay: a family golf clinic at the course.

The Cheat River Canyon from Raven Rock in Coopers Rock State Forest West Virginia. (Steve Heap/Shutterstock)
The Cheat River Canyon from Raven’s Rock Overlook in Coopers Rock State Forest, W.Va. (Steve Heap/Shutterstock)

Our instructor, Randy, was outstanding. He had clubs and golf carts ready to go upon our arrival and was so kind and generous with his knowledge and time—attending to each of us: two adults, an about-to-be 10-year-old and a 7-year-old. We all enjoyed the clinic and learned a lot. Randy even finished by giving the kids alignment sticks and souvenir golf balls. It was a fantastic experience.

We followed that with an early lunch at the clubhouse restaurant, Lightburn’s, which featured light, fresh fare and was lovely.

The remainder of our stay was mostly unscheduled fun. We enjoyed the pool, aquabikes, the recreation room, and more.

The staff was always accommodating and friendly. Our kids enjoyed the cleaning staff arranging their stuffed animals each day.

Dining at the lodge included a full-service restaurant, Stillwaters, where we opted for a buffet dinner and brunch (both were OK, but not great), and T.J. Muskies, which offered casual pub food. Both restaurants helped us to celebrate our son’s 10th birthday with a delicious chocolate lava cake and candle. (Yes, that was two lava cakes in one day.) His birthday ended with the resort’s Memorial Day fireworks display, which was extra special for us.

We did experience a few minor issues at The Stonewall Resort. Our room key suddenly stopped working at one point but was quickly fixed. Neither the paddle boats nor lake cruise was operational, which we found disappointing.

Though not as luxurious as the resort website, perhaps, portrays, the Stonewall Resort is a fantastic choice for a long weekend family adventure centering on outdoor fun and togetherness. If you’ve got a golfer in your party, all the better.

As a whole, West Virginia is simply beautiful—wild and wonderful, indeed. Get it on your destination radar if it’s not already.

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza