When most Americans think of mountains, their minds snag on the western states, but according to an article published in Geographical Review, it's West Virginia (not Colorado or Montana) that takes the title for the most mountainous state. The Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia offers green mountains and a wide array of outdoor activities, and, for this reason, it's an especially desirable destination for nature-lovers up and down the eastern seaboard. In Jefferson County alone there is enough to keep the most active adventurer occupied for weeks. From exploring the charming towns of Harpers Ferry, Shepherdstown, and Charles Town to engaging in the water-based activities offered along the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers to taking one of the many hikes that snake along the Appalachian Trail--Jefferson County offers much to see and do, along with an impressive range of places to stay.
The rugged traveler might choose to pitch a tent or sleep beneath the stars at one of the campsites offered along the riverbanks, but visitors who are looking for luxury lodgings with more character than a high-end hotel should consider the Bavarian Inn, a European-style boutique resort complete with fine dining and an infinity pool overlooking the Potomac River. This four-diamond rated Inn (awarded by AAA) got its start in 1977 when an immigrant named Erwin Asam and his wife Carol opened a German-themed restaurant in the historic Greystone Mansion. Since then, the Asams have happily expanded their family business to offer the sophisticated traveler a choice of over seventy-rooms, some of which are located in separate chalets perched atop the bluff. The Inn, which provides exceptional levels of customer service, is currently run by brothers Christian and David and is located in Shepherdstown, which was settled by German immigrants in 1730, making it the oldest town in West Virginia, but don't let its age fool you; this college town is both progressive and historic, a haven for artists and forward-thinking individuals.
When you visit Jefferson County, a trip to Harpers Ferry is a must. Harpers Ferry is another historic town, but it is unique in that it's preserved inside a National Park and bordered on both sides by major rivers--the Potomac and the Shenandoah. The town of Harpers Ferry is located in West Virginia, but the park extends to Maryland and Virginia. In Harpers Ferry, you can learn about John Brown's famous attack on slavery or see the storied Storer College, established in 1867 with the mission of educating and empowering freed slaves. Visitors looking for active adventures can hike along the Appalachian Trail or ride a raft down one of the most versatile and varied whitewater rafting rivers in the country:
the Shenandoah, known to seasoned riders as simply "The 'Doa."
Those looking for a full array of guided and individual adventures should check out River Riders for their extensive offerings of whitewater rafting, tubing, ziplining, and various climbing challenges. The Aerial Adventure Park contains nine courses complete with ziplines, rope bridges, rock walls, and many other obstacles. After you finish your adventure at River Riders, local libations await you at Bloomery Distillery, which presents live music and complimentary tastings in a restored log cabin from 1840. Owner Rob Losey states, "History, hooch, and hospitality is what we're all about. We grow our own lemons, raspberries, ginger roots, walnuts, pumpkins, and cranberries to make our all-natural
'corn-likkor' based SweetShines." At Bloomery Distillery the bounty and local color of Jefferson County are on full display. Throughout the great and varied state of West Virginia, two things remain constant: the hospitality of its people and the abundance of its offerings.
This is Mountaineer Country
Our West Virginia
Kelsey Maki (
kelseymaki.com) is an assistant professor of English at Brookdale Community College. As an educator, Kelsey is interested in critical discourse analysis and the application of generative rhetoric in the composition classroom. When she's not teaching, Kelsey writes literary fiction and pens travel articles. Her writing has been published in the print anthology Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women-Volume I (available on Amazon) and online at
WritersResist.com and WhatTravelWritersSay.com.
Visit Jefferson County West Virginia
Jefferson County, West Virginia
Jefferson County Convention and Visitors Bureau (JCCVB)