Special Places

Dolly SodsWilderness Areas

The National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) was created in 1964 with the passage of the Wilderness Act. Prior to the Wilderness Act, there was concern about excessive development and loss of naturalness in this country. The eastern portion of the United States had been totally within private ownership and its resources wastefully exploited. Concerned citizens were afraid the same would occur in the western portion of the country as the population grew and civilization spread. Forest reserves and national parks were created in the west to help protect some lands, and private lands in the east were purchased by the government and added to the reserve and park systems, but still the threat of development and exploitation existed. The Wilderness Act was passed to preserve natural conditions and provide opportunities for solitude.  More information...

Highlighted Areas

Cranberry Mountain Nature Center

Come visit Cranberry Mountain Nature Center this season, we have many fun events planned! Excuse our dust as we are upgrading a nature trail, constructing a picnic pavilion and updating a few displays. Watch this site for an events calendar or call the center at 304-653-4826.

The Cranberry Mountain Nature Center has many interesting features that appeal to visitors of all ages and backgrounds, including an exhibit hall, auditorium, events and programs. The center also features a native plant garden, a nature trail, and many events geared toward children. While visiting the nature center, take a few minutes to walk the interpretive trail around the grounds. Signs will point out tree species and give facts on many uses of the trees. There is a beautiful overlook where you enjoy a picnic lunch and view the sites from Stamping Creek, just down the mountain, to the mountains of Virginia in the distance.

Contact Information

For information on the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center, its events, programs or other information, contact the Nature Center at (304) 653-4826 during operating hours. Contact Cranberry Mountain Nature Center Director Diana Stull at Diana.Stull@usda.gov.

For information outside of normal business hours, call the Gauley Ranger District office.

Popular Activities

One of the most popular features is the live snake display and program. Live snake shows are held most Sundays at 1 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend to early October. Following the snake show is a guided tour of Cranberry Glades at 2:30 p.m. 

Visitors' favorite annual event is the Cranberry Shindig, which is a celebration of Appalachian culture. The Shindig is held each year the last Sunday in September.

Additional Area Information

For information about all the exciting opportunities in the local area, check out the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Also check out the Richwood Area Chamber of Commerce for activities in nearby Nicholas County.

Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area

Encompassing 100,000 acres, the scenic Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area (NRA) contains the highest peak in West Virginia, some of the best rock climbing on the east coast, outstanding views and a chance to enjoy America's great outdoors.

Visitor facilities include the Seneca Rocks Discovery CenterSeneca Shadowsand Big Bend Campgrounds, and the Spruce Knob Tower. Many thousands of acres of unspoiled quiet land await discovery. Use your imagination to see how the area may have looked to the early settlers, as they crested the mountain ridges or moved up the river. Imagine living a self-sufficient life on a high hillside farm. Envision the Native Americans gathering food on hunting forays. You will discover not only beauty, but a sense of history in the NRA.

Highland Scenic Highway

The Highland Scenic Highway, a designated National Scenic Byway, is a beautiful corridor through the National Forest.  This Byway extends 43 miles from Richwood to US Route 219.  It has four developed scenic overlooks. Each site provides a comfortable rest stop, with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Highway traverses the mountainous terrain of the Allegheny Highlands and Plateau, and rises from Richwood, elevation 2,325 feet, to over 4,500 feet along the Parkway.

The Highway is a paved two-lane road, designated as State Routes 39 and 150. Rt. 150 is a 23-mile Parkway section that is not maintained in the winter. Travel is discouraged on Rt. 150 between November and March, sometimes April. The road travels from Richwood, WV to US Highway 219, north of Marlinton, WV.  Speed limits are 55 mph for the State Route 39/55 section and 45 mph for the Parkway section. Commercial truck traffic is not allowed on the Parkway. 


For more information.  See Brochure and/or Map.

Seneca Rocks Discovery Center

The Seneca Rocks Discovery Center, located at the base of Seneca Rocks, has a majestic view of the vertical wall of Seneca Rocks. This is the best place to start your visit to to the area.

The Discovery Center is also within walking distance of the Sites Homestead.  The home was originally constructed as a single-pin, log home in 1839 by Jacob Sites, who moved into the North Fork of the Potomac Valley during the 1830's. Additions were made in the 1860's by Jacob's son William. Exterior renovations and preservations remain to testament to local materials and skilled craftsmen. The grounds of the Homestead and heirloom gardens are open during daylight hours any time. Tours of the home are available on Thursday, Friday, and Saturdays during the summer season, and weekdays by special request at the information desk.

Within a short commute are three state parks, Cass Scenic Railroad, 55 miles, Blackwater Falls, 32 miles, and Canaan Valley, which is only 24 miles away.


Falls Of Hills Creek

Tucked away in a narrow gorge just off the Highland Scenic Highway is a hidden treasure known as the Falls of Hills Creek Scenic Area. This popular 114 acre area contains three waterfalls - 25 feet, 45 feet, and 63 feet. The lower falls, at 63 feet is the second highest waterfall in West Virginia.

Cranberry Glades Botanical Area

The Cranberry Glades Botanical Area protects the largest area of bogs in West Virginia. Bogs are acidic wetlands more commonly found in the northern areas of this country and in Canada. The ground in a bog is spongy and consists largely of partially-decayed plant material known as peat. Because of its unique conditions, some unusual plants grow in bogs, including carnivorous or insect-eating plants. The Botanical Area encompasses 750 acres. Read full article...