West Virginia: The Mountain State

West Virginia: The Mountain State

West Virginia is paradise for the outdoor enthusiast. Whether you plan to ski or snowboard, mountain bike, try whitewater rafting, backpack scenic trails, or camp in WV's beautiful state parks--this is the place!
This state is the only state that lies completely within the Appalachian Mountain region. The Mountain State also has a higher mean elevation than any state in the east, at 1,654 ft. Elevations range from 4,862' at Spruce Knob to 240' at Harper's Ferry.
West Virginia's landscape is characterized into 3 major provinces: The Allegheny plateau in the west and north, the Allegheny Mountains, which run from the southwest through the northeast, and the Ridge and Valley province, east of the Allegheny Front (the continental divide) along West Virginia's eastern border with Virginia. In addition, two other provinces make up the eastern panhandle. The Great Appalachian Valley is a wide valley east of the Ridge and Valley province, associated with the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers. Finally, the Blue Ridge Mountains make up the easternmost boundary of West Virginia with Maryland and Virginia.
Seventy-eight percent of West Virginia is covered in forest. There are three National Forest lands in the state; Monongahela NF, George Washington NF, and Jefferson NF. The Monongahela alone encompasses just under 1,000,000 acres of land. Even much of the privately owned land in West Virginia remains as forested hills and mountains, mainly because of low population size (under 2 million) and the incredibly rugged nature of the mountains in much of the state.
You'll find an amazing difference in vegetation and in the types of habitat as well as types of lizards, snakes and salamanders on mountains. Salamanders are the most diverse group of amphibians and reptiles in West Virginia--there are 34 species of them here! The cool, moist, mountainous forests in West Virginia are ideal for these amphibians.
West Virginia is also the only American state formed as a direct result of the American Civil War. It was originally the western part of the state of Virginia, whose population became sharply divided over the issue of secession from the Union.
Even in the 20th century, there were still some disputes about the exact location of the border in some of the northern mountain reaches between Loudoun County, Virginia and Jefferson County, West Virginia. In 1991, both state legislatures appropriated money for a boundary commission to look into 15 miles of the border area.