Wild, Wonderful West Virginia

Mar 9, 2018

Trying to imagine a retreat to West Virginia for those who are not from the mountains may prove to be challenging. The typical narrative may paint a rather bleak image. The common perception is that the area has a somewhat isolated population and you have the typical sing-song, “there’s nothing to do” murmur.
However, if you have spent any time in these hills, you know there is truly something special here. Everyone should have a chance to enjoy the magnificent, unspoiled vistas, abundant wildlife and recreation opportunities, and a certain peace that can only be found two miles in on a narrow, tree-lined hiking trail.
What makes Canaan Valley exceptionally unique destination starts with its uncommon geography in the Appalachian Mountains. Defined as the area between Cabin Mountain and Canaan Mountain, it is the highest valley East of the Rockies.
In 1994 the US Fish and Wildlife Service began to designate what ended up to be a total of 17,000 acres of wetlands, grasslands and forests as the 500th National Wildlife Refuge.
In the diagram below, you can see the foundation of the rock formations that support this high plateau area.

Diagram from West Virginia Department of Commerce
The 2011 Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan details how the specific types of rock underly the Canaan Valley region. “The Canaan Valley was formed by the erosion of the Blackwater Anticline. More erosive rock in the center and edges of the valley created depressions surrounding the middle…[that] developed into the wetland areas.”
Blackwater River also begins in the southwestern end of the valley and flows on the Price Formation and Greenbrier Group rocks.
Climate Conditions
Due to its position at about 3,200 feet above sea level, the Canaan Valley has a climate, vegetation, and wildlife that are typically found in areas comparable to northern regions such as Canada, Maine or Alaska.
The winters are snowy, cold, and can drop to temperatures of 20 below. The summers are cool and moist with temperatures around 75 to 80 degrees. The dynamic of the mountains combined with the valley, causes the area to receive heavy precipitation all year.
This precipitation measures about 55 inches annually and, along with the colder-than-the-surrounding-areas climate, hardy plant and wildlife specifies thrive.
Vegetation Vistas
In this region there are over 580 types of plants with at least 54 of those classified as rare. The water in this area is so unique that 80% of the scarce flora are found in wetlands on the Greenbrier limestone.
Any one can take a hike past the striking mosses, sedges, heathers, balsam fir, cottongrass, cranberry, and Canadian blueberries amongst the rocky beauty. Take in the sights of the Canadian lily-of-the-valley and enjoy an incredible overlook. You will feel so small and in-awe when you see yourself in this scene.
The flora dots the landscape on volunteer-led wildflower walks. Shriver’s frilly orchid offers beautiful purple flowers while the starflowers offer delicate white bursts. Take photos to share as you may just see several remarkable blooms that not typically found in the mid-Atlantic. If desired, the staff and volunteers can provide educational materials to you or even coordinate an informal and age-appropriate field trip.
You won’t see this landscape in many other places; especially considering this area is only a 3-hour drive from Washington, DC or Pittsburgh, PA.
Wildlife Watching
In 2006, nearly 1 million visitors took a retreat to West Virginia with the sole purpose of wildlife watching. Many visit the Canaan area, specifically, to bird watch — ovenbirds, woodland warblers, ducks, herons, and various shorebirds show up sometimes. Most notably, the distinctive black and white bobolink may be spotted.
As a National Wildlife Refuge, the federal government is working to preserve this unique habitat for wildlife. Using binoculars, a spotting scope, or a zoom camera lens will let you take in the details of the expansive grasslands and wetlands. The Refuge also has binoculars and reference books that can be loaned to visitors.
Squirrels, whitetail deer, black bear, beaver, muskrat, raccoon, fisher, fox, coyote, salamanders, beavers, and bats can all be found.  Naturalist-guided walks can point you in the right direction to see wildlife but also teach you about the history, culture and natural resources of the area. An extensive trail network exists for hiking, biking, x-country skiing, etc.

Fast Facts:

  • Hunting is permitted in designated areas
  • Fishing is permitted with permit
  • Hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding and bicycling are permitted on designated routes
  • Dogs must be on a leash and compliant with regulations
  • Off-Road vehicles are prohibited (ATVs and snowmobiles)

If you have any questions about visiting us in this awesome and exclusive geographic area in wild and wonderful West Virginia, please let us know. We over 30 cabin properties for rent and we would be happy to share the spots most suited for panoramic views or wildlife sightings.

Check Out Some of Our Great Vacation Homes Available

Bear Brook Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $165.00      

Bear Brook

By The Brook Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

By The Brook

Chalet Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $165.00      

Chalet

Evergreen Cabin Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Evergreen Cabin

Lakeside Refuge Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $550.00      

Lakeside Refuge

Mirror Lake Inn Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $335.00      

Mirror Lake Inn

Mountainaire Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $229.00      

Mountainaire

Mountaineer Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

Mountaineer

Northwoods F8, Bear Foot Inn Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Northwoods F8, Bear Foot Inn

Orsinger's Barn Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $349.00      

Orsinger's Barn

Silver Fox Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Silver Fox

Spruce Haven Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $220.00      

Spruce Haven

Uncle Wade's Cabin Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $249.00      

Uncle Wade's Cabin

Valley Splendor Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Valley Splendor

Valley View Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Valley View

Cardinal Crest Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Cardinal Crest

Cardinal Haus Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Cardinal Haus

Aspen Knoll 6, Mountain Serenity Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $249.00      

Aspen Knoll 6, Mountain Serenity

Deerfield Village 078, Mountaineers Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

Deerfield Village 078, Mountaineers

Deerfield Village 079, D'Bears Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

Deerfield Village 079, D'Bears

Northface 17, Abundant Blessings Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Northface 17, Abundant Blessings

Ole Fezziwig's Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $220.00      

Ole Fezziwig's

Northface 35, Stowaway Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $229.00      

Northface 35, Stowaway

Northwoods B6, The Basebox Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Northwoods B6, The Basebox

Tiny Peace of Zen Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Tiny Peace of Zen

Winterhaven 69, Appause Wetu Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $299.00      

Winterhaven 69, Appause Wetu

Wildlife Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Wildlife

WoodHaven Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

WoodHaven

Deerfield Village 41, Eagle's Retreat Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Deerfield Village 41, Eagle's Retreat

Styxneste Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Styxneste

Deerfield Village 109, Red Spruce Retreat Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

Deerfield Village 109, Red Spruce Retreat

Almost Heaven Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $220.00      

Almost Heaven

Eagle's Nest Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Eagle's Nest

Blackwater Punch, Herzwood D204 Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Blackwater Punch, Herzwood D204

Timberbrook Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $219.00      

Timberbrook

Beaver's Den Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $139.00      

Beaver's Den

Casa Sierra Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Casa Sierra

Das Marchenhaus Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Das Marchenhaus

Deer Creek Cottage Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Deer Creek Cottage

Red Door Roost Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Red Door Roost

Snow Oaks Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Snow Oaks

THISISIT Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

THISISIT

Zen Too Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Zen Too

Alpine Vista Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Alpine Vista

Happy Cow Hideaway Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Happy Cow Hideaway

Hickory House Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $499.00      

Hickory House

Salty Peaks Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Salty Peaks

Huckleberry Hideaway Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Huckleberry Hideaway

Riverside Retreat Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $550.00      

Riverside Retreat

Safe Haven Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Safe Haven

Mountain Glory Cabin Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $350.00      

Mountain Glory Cabin

Leaf Peeper's Chalet Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $250.00      

Leaf Peeper's Chalet

Driftland Cabin Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $250.00      

Driftland Cabin

Bobolink Cabin Bed & Breakfast Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $170.00      

Bobolink Cabin Bed & Breakfast

Bear Brook Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $165.00      

Bear Brook

By The Brook Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

By The Brook

Chalet Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $165.00      

Chalet

Evergreen Cabin Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Evergreen Cabin

Lakeside Refuge Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $550.00      

Lakeside Refuge

Mirror Lake Inn Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $335.00      

Mirror Lake Inn

Mountainaire Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $229.00      

Mountainaire

Mountaineer Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

Mountaineer

Northwoods F8, Bear Foot Inn Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Northwoods F8, Bear Foot Inn

Orsinger's Barn Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $349.00      

Orsinger's Barn

Silver Fox Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Silver Fox

Spruce Haven Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $220.00      

Spruce Haven

Uncle Wade's Cabin Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $249.00      

Uncle Wade's Cabin

Valley Splendor Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Valley Splendor

Valley View Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Valley View

Cardinal Crest Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Cardinal Crest

Cardinal Haus Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Cardinal Haus

Aspen Knoll 6, Mountain Serenity Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $249.00      

Aspen Knoll 6, Mountain Serenity

Deerfield Village 078, Mountaineers Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

Deerfield Village 078, Mountaineers

Deerfield Village 079, D'Bears Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

Deerfield Village 079, D'Bears

Northface 17, Abundant Blessings Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Northface 17, Abundant Blessings

Ole Fezziwig's Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $220.00      

Ole Fezziwig's

Northface 35, Stowaway Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $229.00      

Northface 35, Stowaway

Northwoods B6, The Basebox Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Northwoods B6, The Basebox

Tiny Peace of Zen Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Tiny Peace of Zen

Winterhaven 69, Appause Wetu Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $299.00      

Winterhaven 69, Appause Wetu

Wildlife Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Wildlife

WoodHaven Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

WoodHaven

Deerfield Village 41, Eagle's Retreat Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Deerfield Village 41, Eagle's Retreat

Styxneste Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Styxneste

Deerfield Village 109, Red Spruce Retreat Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

Deerfield Village 109, Red Spruce Retreat

Almost Heaven Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $220.00      

Almost Heaven

Eagle's Nest Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Eagle's Nest

Blackwater Punch, Herzwood D204 Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Blackwater Punch, Herzwood D204

Timberbrook Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $219.00      

Timberbrook

Beaver's Den Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $139.00      

Beaver's Den

Casa Sierra Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Casa Sierra

Das Marchenhaus Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Das Marchenhaus

Deer Creek Cottage Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Deer Creek Cottage

Red Door Roost Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Red Door Roost

Snow Oaks Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $189.00      

Snow Oaks

THISISIT Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $179.00      

THISISIT

Zen Too Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Zen Too

Alpine Vista Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $199.00      

Alpine Vista

Happy Cow Hideaway Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Happy Cow Hideaway

Hickory House Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $499.00      

Hickory House

Salty Peaks Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $149.00      

Salty Peaks

Huckleberry Hideaway Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Huckleberry Hideaway

Riverside Retreat Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $550.00      

Riverside Retreat

Safe Haven Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $159.00      

Safe Haven

Mountain Glory Cabin Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $350.00      

Mountain Glory Cabin

Leaf Peeper's Chalet Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $250.00      

Leaf Peeper's Chalet

Driftland Cabin Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $250.00      

Driftland Cabin

Bobolink Cabin Bed & Breakfast Thumbnail Image

     Starting at $170.00      

Bobolink Cabin Bed & Breakfast