Road Trips from Washington D.C.: Potomac Highlands

The Potomac Highland Region, located in the Eastern portion of West Virginia, provides roughly 2,722 square miles of breathtaking mountain views and rich forest scenery. The rugged landscape, winding scenic roadways and family-owned businesses are some of the key traits that make this region so special. The Potomac Highland Region is also home to both the highest and the lowest points in the state; the highest being Spruce Knob, standing at an astonishing 4,863 feet high, and the lowest being the Potomac River where it meets the border of the state of Virginia. Due to the rough terrain and the beautiful scenic highways of this region, traveling by car is the way to go if you want to get the most out of all the beauty this piece of Almost Heaven has to offer.

Day One

Begin your adventure at Blackwater Falls State Park, a year-round attraction that has been a state favorite since it was first established in 1937. Located in Tucker County and nestled into the beautiful wildlife of the Allegheny Mountains, the park earned its name due to its cascading 57-foot waterfall, Blackwater Falls, that is one of the most picture-worthy places in the entire state. With 20 miles of forest-covered hiking trails and the longest sled run on the East Coast, it is clear why this park is a must-see if you’re looking to enjoy a picture-perfect trip full of adventure in the spectacular mountains of West Virginia. The park also features a lodge restaurant called The Smokehouse that is open all year and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The quaint little city of Elkins has much to offer in terms of outdoor activities and local art. Just a 60-minute drive down the road from Blackwater Falls State Park, this city is the perfect stop on your day one journey across the Potomac Highlands.

Located on the edge of the beautiful Monongahela National Forest, Elkins is a place filled with good food, rich history and ample recreational pursuits. A must-see place for art lovers, the Randolph County Community Arts Center, which is located inside a historic church building that was built in 1928, is dedicated to celebrating the works of local established and emerging artists. With fine-arts exhibitions and programs tailored for people of all ages and abilities, this place is sure to get your creative gears turning. Another local art shop, Artists at Work, is a one-stop shop featuring some of the best artists in the region. This shop provides an up-close look at the works of 23 local artists and designers, including jewelry, pottery, baskets and watercolor paintings.

If walking around gathering inspiration from some of the finest Appalachian art pieces works up an appetite, you can stop at 1863 Grill for some comfort food that has been the staple of the city for over 50 years. You can’t leave without trying their famous cinnamon rolls and their tasty baked steak dinner. It is suggested to check the website or call ahead before visiting as the hours may differ.

If you’re in the mood for some all-American cuisine instead, head over to C.J. Maggie’s for some great options with great quality ingredients. A homey atmosphere with food made fresh every single morning, C.J. Maggie’s is just the place to go for burgers, steaks, pizzas and pasta dishes.

End your journey at Canaan Valley Resort State Park, a place that offers both relaxation and recreation. This resort is complete with 160 luxurious rooms, 23 cabins, 34 campsites, a championship golf course, indoor and outdoor pools, 47 ski slopes, walking trails, spa, fitness center, and shopping venues.

Day Two

To kick off your second day of adventure, check out Cass Scenic Railroad State Park and enjoy the rich history of this 11-mile-long railroad and the quaint little town with some of the state’s most popular attractions. With one of the country’s only authentic operating museums of lumbar railroading, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park takes you back in time to the days when locomotives were a primary source of transportation.

The park’s most well-liked attraction is the train ride up the side of a mountain to see the breathtaking view that overlooks Bald Knob, the third-highest point in the state of West Virginia. There are two options for the ride, a 2-hour or 4-hour ride. The 4-hour ride comes with historic commentary of the area and a box lunch. Guest reviews recommend bringing a seat cushion to sit on during the ride as the seats are very hard, and a jacket or coat is good to take along if you’re going during the fall or winter months. The park also features a gift shop with an old-fashioned soda fountain and restaurant that is open daily from 8 am to 8 pm. It’s best to try and reserve your tickets for the park online before your trip.

Before leaving the park, stop and grab a bite to eat at the family-owned and operated Last Run Restaurant. This old-fashioned restaurant features sandwiches, daily specials, and home-cooked meals.

End your stay at the Hampton Inn in Elkins.

With breathtaking scenery, hometown hospitality and rich Appalachian culture, a road trip to the Potomac Highlands region allows you to truly experience Almost Heaven.

This post was last updated on October 13, 2021