Explore West Virginia’s Canaan Valley

Jessica Wong

After one of the darkest winters in American history, finding bright spots feels more urgent, more necessary. And they do still exist, if you know where to look. Take the tiny town of Davis, population 660, nestled into West Virginia’s awe-inspiring wilderness near the eastern edge of Maryland.  Recently, Davis has […]

After one of the darkest winters in American history, finding bright spots feels more urgent, more necessary. And they do still exist, if you know where to look. Take the tiny town of Davis, population 660, nestled into West Virginia’s awe-inspiring wilderness near the eastern edge of Maryland. 

Recently, Davis has experienced a revival as a gateway for visitors to Canaan Valley, a National Natural Landmark in the Allegheny Mountains. The pandemic, which devastated so much of the tourism industry, has pushed more travelers toward this area for its ample outdoor pursuits. “It was a very attractive summer [destination] for those that still wanted to be able to socially distance,” says Jessica Waldo, executive director of the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

The snowy winter—Canaan Valley’s best in years, according to news reports—provided another boost, as skiers and snowboarders flocked there to enjoy fresh air, fresh powder and plenty of space. 

This pandemic-fueled boom adds to the region’s growing status as a worthy destination. Brian Sarfino, also from the county tourism bureau, has lived in the area for a quarter-century and has seen its popularity explode in recent years. “Everything here is really wide open,” Sarfino says. “You can see for miles. You don’t [normally] get that in Appalachia.” 

Mountain Trail Rides

Although Canaan Valley—pronounced “Ca-nane” rather than the expected “Cay-nin,” for reasons that generate much debate among locals—draws the most attention for its summer and winter activities, it’s no less breathtaking during off-seasons. Visitors looking to experience the area, only a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Columbus, should consider a trip in April or May, when crowds are minimal but the valley is coming to life. 

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