Where is Blackwater Falls State Park
Located within the Alleghany Falls, Blackwater Falls State Park resides entirely within the state of West Virginia. The most notable features of the state park are the Blackwater River and the river’s Great Falls. The park also contains a park lodge, campground, nature center, hiking trails, and areas for mountain biking, fishing, and wildlife viewing. The park resides in Tucker County, West Virginia. Blackwater Falls State Park is located 147 miles and about a three-hour drive south of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, 73 miles and an hour and forty-five-minute drive south of Morgantown, West Virginia, and 170 miles and a three-hour drive west of Washington D.C. The park also lies near several other recreation areas. These recreation areas include the Savage River State Forest, the Monongahela State Forest, and Lost River State Park.
How Large is Blackwater Falls State Park
Blackwater Falls State Park covers over 2,300 acres. The park’s geography mainly consists of the Blackwater River, acres of dense woodlands, and several intermittent riparian areas. The forest of Blackwater Falls US State Park is composed of red spruce, eastern hemlock, yellow birch, American beech, red maple, and black cherry tree species. The Great Falls found on the Blackwater River drops 62 feet in a cascade. The park also contains other falls including the falls located on Falls Run, Shay Run, and Pendleton Run. However, the Great Falls are the most notable feature of Blackwater Falls State Park and one of the most photographed sites in the state of West Virginia. The park lodge contains 54 rooms, the campground contains 65 campsites, and the park also contains 39 reservable cabins.
Blackwater Falls State Park Weather
The weather at Blackwater Falls State Park varies frequently throughout the year. In the summer, temperatures in the park average between 55- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit. In winter, these temperatures cool considerably and average between 15- and 40-degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest temperatures of the year arrive at the park in June, July, and August, and the coldest temperatures find the park in December and January. On average, Blackwater Falls State Park receives around 150 days of rain per year. These 150 days of rain accumulate to a yearly average of around 60 inches. Blackwater Falls State Park also experiences snowfall throughout every year. Snowfall in the park can be quite heavy during the winter months of December, January, and February. The park’s yearly snowfall totals average around 160 inches per year.
When did Blackwater Falls Become a State Park
Blackwater Falls State Park first became a state park in 1937. The area the park resides in was reported heavily by early American travel writer Philip Pendelton Kennedy. However, Kennedy somehow failed to report the falls located on the Blackwater River. These falls were first reported by David Hunter Strother later the same year. The original size of the park includes about 430 acres. Additional donations of land were granted to the state of West Virginia by the US National Forest Service. The park is managed and maintained by the West Virginia State Forest and Park Commission.
Things to do in Blackwater Falls State Park
Blackwater Falls State Park offers visitors the opportunity to explore the great outdoors of West Virginia. The most popular and unique adventures found within Blackwater Falls State Park are listed below:
Explore the Nature Center
As suggested by our State Park Visitors Guide; the nature center at Blackwater Falls State Park is the best place for visitors to start their West Virginia Park adventure. The nature center houses several educational exhibits and displays that discuss the park's flora, fauna, and overall ecology. The center also houses knowledgeable staff that are the perfect resource for additional information about the park, its facilities, and its trails. These staff can also answer other specific questions visitors may have about their stay at the park.
Participate in an Interpretive Program
After visiting the park’s nature center, visitors looking to learn more about Blackwater Falls State Park should look to participate in one of the park’s interpretive programs. These programs are led by knowledgeable park staff. The programs topics vary, but normally involve the park’s ecology, geology, geography, history, or cultural influence. The schedule for these programs rotates based on the parks staff that is available throughout the year. However, weekly schedules are normally posted on the park’s website and in the park’s nature center.
Hike to the Great Falls
The Great Falls found on the Blackwater River are the most notable feature of Blackwater Falls State Park. The falls can be viewed and accessed by a broad trail that starts at the Great Falls parking area. This trail is a woodland walkway that leads to a low overlook of the falls. Another trail, the Gentle Trail runs a little longer and takes visitors to a higher vantage point of the falls.
Cast a Line on Blackwater River
Anglers visiting Blackwater Falls State Park will want to bring all of their freshwater fishing equipment to access the Blackwater River. The river contains a variety of species including channel catfish, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass. All visitors wishing to fish within the park should arrive at Blackwater Falls State Park with a valid West Virginia freshwater fishing license.
Winter Activities in the Park
During the winter months, when snow falls is heavy enough to cover the park but light enough to allow visitors to reach the park several winter activities are available in the park. Cross country skiing and snowshoeing are popular activities in Blackwater Falls State Park during the winter months of December, January, and February.
Blackwater Falls State Park protects several avian species and other wildlife species. Woodland species commonly spotted in the park include white-tailed deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and a variety of woodland songbirds.
Camping in Blackwater Falls State Park
The campground at Blackwater Falls State Park contains 65 campsites. Thirty of these campsites contain electric and water hookups. The park also contains a lodge and several reservable cabins. Visitors looking to stay within Blackwater Falls State Park can make reservations for the park’s campground, lodge, or cabins online through the park’s website and reservation portal.
When to Visit Blackwater Falls State Park
Blackwater Falls State Park is open year-round, and visitors can visit the park throughout the year as weather permits. Occasionally in the winter, heavy snowfall can cause the park’s roads to close for a few days. The best time to visit Blackwater Falls State Park is in spring and fall. During these months temperatures in the park are moderate and perfect for hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing. Visitors looking to snowshoe or cross-country ski in the park should visit the park during December, January or February.
Must Have Items to Bring to Blackwater Falls State Park
Most visitors planning a state park trip know that some packing and planning is required. A trip to Blackwater Falls State Park is no exception. The items listed below should be considered when packing for your trip to the park.
Water & High Energy Snacks
Water is essential for every hiking, camping, or other outdoor recreation trip. High energy snacks are also a great item to bring with you on the trail or store in camp. Snacks like beef jerky, trail mix, and protein bars can do wonders at replenishing energy and providing a needed boost after a long day or strenuous hike.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
List of Parks suggest a pair of sturdy hiking boots which are essential for a successful trip to Blackwater Falls State Park. Several of the park’s trails venture over various terrain and can become quite hazardous during acclimate weather. Visitors should look to invest in a waterproof pair of boots for added comfort and protection. These hiking boots will come in handy when hiking around the Blackwater River.
Lightweight Rain Jacket
A solid lightweight rain jacket should be protective enough to wick away rain and other precipitation, but not overly heavy that it becomes uncomfortably warm. Lightweight rain jackets are more expensive than their counterparts but are highly effective. Visitors of Blackwater Falls State Park should look to purchase a completely waterproof jacket instead of a water resistant one.
When packing for any camping trip, creating and using a camping equipment checklist is a helpful practice. A checklist will make sure you don’t forget any necessary equipment when packing for your trip to Blackwater Falls State Park.
West Virginia Wildlife Field Guide
Wildlife enthusiasts looking to visit Blackwater Falls State Park should bring along a North America or West Virginia specific wildlife field guide. The best field guides contain color images and species descriptions that will make the identification of the species found in the park educational and simple. Visitors interested in the variety of wildflowers that bloom in Blackwater Falls State Park during the spring and early summer can also purchase a wildflower specific field guide to aid in identification.
Where to Stay in Blackwater Falls State Park
Visitors looking to stay within the boundaries of Blackwater Falls State Park should make a reservation for one of the park’s campsites, lodge rooms, or cabins. These reservations can be made online through the park’s website and reservation portal. Visitors of Blackwater Falls State Park who would prefer to stay in a hotel will want to first pursue the various options located in Davis or Thomas. However, visitors looking for more options or to stay in a larger city can make the drive to Morgantown, Roanoke, Virginia, or Harrisburg, Virginia where there are more options.
Food Near Blackwater Falls State Park
The nearest food to Blackwater Falls State Park is located in Davis or Thomas. These cities are home to a few restaurants, bars, and taverns that may suit a visitor’s taste. However, other nearby food and drink options and a larger culinary scene is waiting for visitors in Morgantown, Roanoke, Virginia, or Harrisburg, Virginia. These cities are farther away from the state park, but offer an endless list of restaurants, bars, and craft beers.
Airports Near Blackwater Falls State Park
The closest international airport to Blackwater Falls State Park is located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh International Airport is 152 miles and about a three-hour drive away from Blackwater Falls State Park. Other airports near Blackwater Falls State Park are located in Washington D.C, Baltimore, and Richmond. The Baltimore-Washington International Airport is located 205 miles and a three-and-a-half-hour drive east of Blackwater Falls State Park.