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The Ultimate Travel Guide to Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia, USA

Blackwater Falls State Park

In the heart of the Allegheny Mountains, Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia beckons travelers with its breathtaking beauty, lush forests, and stunning waterfalls. Whether you’re an outdoor adventurer, a nature lover, or simply seeking a serene escape, Blackwater Falls offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you awe-inspired. Get ready to immerse yourself in the natural wonders and diverse activities this state park has to offer with this ultimate travel guide.

Why is Blackwater Falls famous?

Blackwater Falls is famous for several reasons, making it a renowned and sought-after destination in West Virginia:

1. Striking Natural Beauty: The primary reason for Blackwater Falls’ fame is its extraordinary natural beauty. The waterfall plunges 62 feet into the Blackwater Canyon, creating a stunning scene of cascading water against the backdrop of lush forests and rugged canyon walls. The falls’ striking amber-colored water, caused by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles, adds to its unique allure.

2. Accessible and Scenic Location: Blackwater Falls State Park is easily accessible from major cities in the region, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The park’s location in the Allegheny Mountains offers picturesque views of the surrounding Monongahela National Forest, attracting outdoor enthusiasts seeking breathtaking vistas.

3. Year-Round Appeal: The falls’ beauty is not limited to a specific season, making it an all-year-round attraction. In the spring and summer, the lush greenery adds vibrancy to the landscape, while autumn transforms the area into a colorful wonderland as the foliage turns shades of red, orange, and gold. During winter, the falls and surrounding landscapes are often covered in snow, creating a magical winter wonderland.

4. Photography and Filming: Blackwater Falls’ natural beauty has also made it a favorite spot for photographers and filmmakers. The cascading waterfall, picturesque canyon, and diverse scenery provide an ideal backdrop for capturing stunning images and scenes.

5. Recreational Opportunities: Besides the falls, Blackwater Falls State Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, fishing, and skiing during winter. This diversity of activities attracts adventure seekers, nature enthusiasts, and families looking for memorable experiences.

6. Cultural Significance: Blackwater Falls is not only a natural wonder but also holds cultural significance. The park’s name and history are tied to the early settlers in the area, adding a layer of heritage and storytelling to the falls’ fame.

Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park

Getting There:

Blackwater Falls State Park is easily accessible by car from major cities in the region:

  • From Washington D.C.: Drive west on I-66, then take I-81 south, and finally merge onto US-48 West (Corridor H). Continue to WV-32 South, which leads to the park entrance.
  • From Pittsburgh: Take I-79 South to US-33 East. From there, continue on WV-32 South to reach the park.


The park offers a variety of accommodations to suit different preferences:

  • Lodge and Cabins: Stay in the Blackwater Falls Lodge or one of the cozy cabins nestled in the woods, offering comfort and convenience close to the park’s main attractions.
  • Camping: Experience the great outdoors by camping at one of the park’s campgrounds. Enjoy the serenity of nature under the starlit sky.

Must-See Attractions:

  • Blackwater Falls: Witness the park’s namesake attraction, Blackwater Falls, as it plunges 62 feet into the Blackwater Canyon. The falls’ amber-colored water is a result of tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles, creating a unique and mesmerizing sight.
  • Lindy Point Overlook: Hike to Lindy Point for a breathtaking view of the Blackwater Canyon and the Monongahela National Forest. The short, easy trail rewards visitors with stunning panoramic vistas.
  • Elakala Falls: Explore the series of picturesque waterfalls known as Elakala Falls, offering beautiful photo opportunities and a tranquil ambiance.

Outdoor Activities:

  • Hiking: Blackwater Falls State Park boasts over 20 miles of hiking trails, catering to hikers of all skill levels. From leisurely walks to challenging backcountry routes, there’s something for everyone.
  • Biking: Bring your mountain bike and pedal along scenic trails, including the Blackwater Canyon Rail Trail, a 10-mile trail offering beautiful views of the canyon.
  • Skiing and Snowboarding: During the winter months, the park transforms into a winter wonderland, offering opportunities for skiing and snowboarding.
  • Fishing: Cast your line into the Blackwater River or Pendleton Lake, known for trout fishing, and enjoy a peaceful day by the water.

Seasonal Highlights:

  • Fall Foliage: Experience a vibrant display of colors during the fall season as the park’s trees transform into a kaleidoscope of red, orange, and gold hues.
  • Winter Wonderland: Witness the park’s beauty in winter, where snow blankets the landscape, creating a serene and magical atmosphere.

Wildlife Viewing:

Keep an eye out for various wildlife species that call the park home, including deer, black bears, foxes, and numerous bird species. Respect their natural habitat and observe from a safe distance.

Blackwater Falls State Park

Safety Tips:

  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing for outdoor activities.
  • Carry plenty of water and snacks, especially during hikes.
  • Follow all park rules and regulations to preserve the natural environment.
  • Check weather conditions before venturing out and be prepared for sudden changes.

Why is the water at Blackwater Falls black?

Contrary to what the name might suggest, the water at Blackwater Falls is not actually black. Instead, it is a unique shade of amber or brown. The distinctive color of the water is a result of tannins leaching into the water from the fallen hemlock and red spruce needles in the surrounding forest.

Blackwater Falls State Park

Tannins are organic compounds found in plants, and they are responsible for the brownish coloration of water in some natural bodies, including rivers and streams. As rainwater filters through the forest floor and over decaying plant matter, it picks up these tannins, resulting in the amber-colored water that cascades down the waterfall at Blackwater Falls.

During its journey through the forest and over the Blackwater Canyon’s rugged terrain, the water becomes highly oxygenated, which enhances the tannin’s color intensity. The combination of tannins and oxygenation gives the water its characteristic dark amber hue, which might have led to the name “Blackwater Falls.”

Despite the name, the water at Blackwater Falls is safe and natural. The unique coloration is a captivating and beautiful feature of the falls, adding to the charm and allure of this beloved natural wonder in West Virginia’s Blackwater Falls State Park.

How much does it cost to get into Blackwater Falls State Park?

Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia charged a nominal fee for park entry. The fee for state residents was typically $3 per vehicle, while out-of-state visitors paid $5 per vehicle. The fees were usually collected at the park entrance or at self-pay stations near the park’s entrance gate.

However, please note that park fees and policies may change over time, and it’s essential to check the most up-to-date information before planning your visit to Blackwater Falls State Park.

For the most current and accurate details regarding park entry fees, parking fees, and any other relevant charges, I recommend visiting the official website of Blackwater Falls State Park or contacting the park office directly. By doing so, you can ensure that you have the most recent information to plan your visit and enjoy your time at this stunning natural destination.

Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia is a nature lover’s paradise, offering an abundance of outdoor adventures and serene vistas. Whether you seek relaxation or adrenaline-pumping experiences, this ultimate travel guide will help you make the most of your visit to this stunning state park. Embrace the tranquility of the forest, marvel at the majestic waterfalls, and create cherished memories amidst the beauty of Blackwater Falls State Park.

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