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Here at Pipestem Resort State Park they have it all! There is a nice campground with full hookup sites, electric only sites and primitive sites. You decide was level of comfort you desire and the price adjusts accordingly. There are two lodges with rooms for rent and several restaurants. There is an aerial tramway that will transport you to the lower lodge.

Outdoor activities include an 18 hole golf course, disc golf and miniature golf. They have fishing, paddleboat and canoe rentals, numerous hiking and biking trails, an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center and sauna. There are basketball and tennis courts, horseback riding, sledding and cross country skiing.

These are all of course seasonal activities so call ahead to see what is being offered during your stay. We were here in mid-April so we were too late for the snow and too early for the water activities. The good news is the campground was less than half full and we had our choice of most sites. I imagine come Memorial Day Weekend this place is completely full!

We chose Campsite #7 in the full hookup section and thought that Site #39 in the electric only section would have been just as nice. If primitive camping is what you desire we feel Campsite #68 is the best. All three were long back in sites with no one behind or to the awning side on either site.


YEAR #2 - STOP #23

"The Mountain State"
is our 12th visited state

Upon checking in at the campground we purchased two bags of firewood so we could enjoy our West Virginia campfire tonight. The weather is not supposed to be as nice for the next few nights while we are here. It was good that we have full hookups, complete with sewer, because when we left our last campsite the dump station was out of order and unusable, yet another ding against our Kentucky State Parks visits.



We were up early at 6:30AM this morning to eat breakfast, make lunches to take with us and get cleaned up in the showers. By 8:00AM we were on the road to go visit the New River Gorge National River visitor center 65 miles north of here. We arrived at the Canyon Rim Visitor Center a little after 9:00AM right after they opened. As always the first order of business was to get my National Parks Passport Book stamped. Then we watched an 11 minute documentary film about the discovery, history, mining, development and finally preservation of this National River Gorge.

Just outside the visitor center is a boardwalk staircase that descends just below the roadway of the bridge that crosses the gorge here. The New River Gorge Bridge was completed in 1977 and for many years was the world's longest single span arch bridge, it is currently now the fourth longest. Not only did we view the bridge from here, we drove what used to be the only way to cross the river at this location.

We drove down the winding switchback roads of the Fayette Station Road Tour down into the gorge, crossed a bridge just a few feet above the river and then drove back up the 876 feet on the other side along even more switchback roads. It used to take drivers 45 minutes to do this. When we crossed the new 1977 bridge earlier, to get to the visitor center, it only took us 45 seconds to cross the same river.

After the road tour we went upriver to view Sandstone Falls both from the overlook and from ground level on the boardwalk.


A view of the New River Gorge from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center
A view of the bridge from just below the roadway level
Stairway with observation decks leading down below the bridge
Halfway down the gorge on the Fayette Station Road Tour
A closeup view of the structure holding up the bridge
A far away view of the bridge
Another section of the one-way road tour
Another view of the underside of the bridge
The view from the lower original bridge to the upper new bridge
The downstream view of the river
ROVER awaits the photographer to get back into her passenger seat!
A look back from ground level at the lower bridge
An overlook view Sandstone Falls (30 miles upriver from the Gorge Bridge)
A ground level view of Sandstone Falls

After exploring this area of the gorge we had something else planned to do, our new passion is cave exploration. Even before our visit to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky last week, we had visited several caves in Virginia and Tennessee. There is another cave tour near here and what really sounded interesting to us about this cave is that you are able to view the cave as a self-guided tour. That means no rushing through the cave at someone else's pace and being able to spend as much time as you want enjoying each formation. We weren't expecting much and man were we happily surprised.

Every cave is different and you can't really compare one to another to decide which one is better. Mammoth Cave is huge, that's what it has to offer that no other cave does. We hiked 9 miles on three different tours during our visit and we didn't even scratch the surface of the more than 400 miles of passageways that have been mapped there. But what Mammoth Cave doesn't have is a lot of formations, alive or dead, for you to view and photograph.

Lost World Caverns is just the opposite. The entire viewing section of the cave tour is only 1000 feet long. But in that 1000 feet are incredible formations of every kind everywhere you look. You can get up close and inspect each formation to see how they were formed. The other thing is that this cave is very much alive, water is dripping everywhere which means the formations are still growing and changing. Not that you'll notice any change, even if you visited here as a child, because it takes thousands of years for most formations to grow even an inch.

50 stairs to enter the cave and 50 stairs to exit the cave
300 stairs total on the half mile tour



35 miles were driven today to go get ROVER all filled up with gas and ready to tow THE POD to our next destination. The other 3 miles were all driven inside the park to go climb to the top of the Observation Tower and to go over to the aerial tram location to check it out. The tram ride is $7.00, but if you eat a $10.00 meal at the restaurant at the end of the ride the tram ride is free. Guess I know where we are having lunch tomorrow!

The view from the top of the Observation Tower at Pipestem Resort State Park, WV.



Got up early today and drove three miles down the street to a drive in movie theater, not to see a movie of course, but to check out the flea market they advertised out front on the marquee. The weather was a little damp but there were still a few vendors braving the rain. I didn't find anything I was looking for, so I went back home empty handed.

When I got back to the campsite Tricia had taken a load of laundry up to get washed. Mostly the clothes we had worn while sitting around the campfire Thursday night. While I was sitting there with Tricia waiting for the clothes to be dry I saw a few people gathering at the entrance to the campground. Always the curious type I went over to see what was up.

I was told that in about an hour they were going to be participating in a qualifying round of the state championship tournament for Irish Road Bowling. There were going to be about 25 men and women competing for a spot in the West Virginia State Tournament. The sport is simple, yeah just like golf is simple, all you have to do is roll a small round iron cannonball one mile down the road, fewest throws win.

The thing is the road here in the park is a winding twisting road with some steep up and down hills along the most of the entire length. I was talking to one of the players and he told me this course record is 14 throws set many years ago and last year one of the players came within 10 feet of setting a new record with a 13. He pointed out to me which player he was so I could watch him and then he also pointed out to me last years State Champion.

Before the tournament got under way it started to rain and I naively asked if the played rain or shine? He smiled and said it rains everyday in Ireland, so yes, as long as there is no thunder and lightening they will play. Today they played in groups of five and I watched all five group's first three throws before it starting raining really hard. I then walked back to the campground, it didn't look like anyone was going to be setting any records today.

We did, as I suspected we would, brave the rain and take the aerial tram down to the lower lodge's restaurant for a couple gourmet hamburgers, some creamy potato soup and chocolate key lime cheesecake. The whole bill was just over $40 but the tram ride and the food were a real nice experience.

• • • 100 MILE • • •


With a half mile of hiking inside of Lost World Caverns
and another half mile up to The Observation Tower in the park
it brings our annual total up to 14 miles.

Who will be the first to correctly guess our next location?

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