Will the real West Virginia please step forward? If all you know of this beautiful slice of Appalachia are the hackneyed backwoods stereotypes, you’re missing out on some of the most unspoiled camping in the U.S. As the writer Heather Day Gilbert described it: “I couldn’t describe the smells of West Virginia if I tried. It has something to do with the leaves composting in the woods, the cold trickle of little creeks and waterfalls, the ferns greening up everything. But somewhere deep below, I can smell the rock and the coal this state is built on.”
And then, of course, there’s those endless peaks. They don’t call it the Mountain State for nothing – lush green Appalachian Mountains roll like a vision, dotted with snowy caps, rushing waterfalls, and small towns with budding art scenes. The state’s low-key commercial tourism only serves to bolster its value as a camping paradise. Weather-wise, travelers should aim for late summer – when temps linger in the 80’s well into August – or fall, when the mountains light up in a fiery display of autumn hues.