Wild Wonderful West Virginia's Flora & Fauna: What It Offers and Where to Enjoy It

Updated on October 6, 2018
Michelle Mollohan profile image

Michelle lives on a 39-acre farm with horses, donkeys, peacocks, chickens, German Shepherds, barn cats, two children and one lucky husband.

West Virginia is nicknamed the Mountain State because it is the only state that lies completely within the Appalachian Mountain Range. It features steep mountain ranges, gently rolling hills and winding roads through farmland to beautiful streams and lakes.

According to WV Tourism, the state is home to more than 57 species of amphibians and reptiles, 70 wild mammals, 178 types of fish and nearly 300 different birds. For those of us fortunate enough to live in this beautiful state, every sighting is a blessing.

I am proud to be a Mountaineer and want to show what makes our state such a great place to live and visit!

Bear Rocks Sunset in Dolly Sods, WV
Bear Rocks Sunset in Dolly Sods, WV | Source

State Symbols For West Virginia

West Virginia students have voted for their favorite in state symbol in these categories, which were then adopted by Legislature, making them official state symbols.

  • The Black Bear was officially named the state animal in 1973.
  • The Northern Cardinal became the state bird in 1949.
  • The Brook Trout was dubbed the state fish in 1973.
  • The Honeybee was deemed the state insect in 2002.
  • The sugar maple became the state tree in 1949.
  • The Rhododendron was named the state flower in 1903.
  • The Golden Delicious apple was discovered in 1905 and chosen as the state fruit in 1995.

Male Cardinal in winter
Male Cardinal in winter

Commonly Sighted Critters

In Wild, Wonderful West Virginia, animal sightings are such an everyday occurrence that many native residents simply do not take notice. It is rare indeed to travel anywhere, from "hollers" to the highway, without encountering deer, opossums, squirrels, turkeys, rabbits, turtles and even the occasional bear.

Devoted hunters and anglers love to wander throughout the diverse terrain that WV has to offer. Hunters can hunt 21 animals, from deer to bear, birds to foxes. West Virginia has 150 species of fish, many of which are members of the minnow and darter families that aren't commonly encountered. There are 35 prevalent species including Bluegill, Trout, Catfish, Bass, Musky and Sturgeon. In 2018, DNR officials stocked 50 streams and lakes with the Golden Rainbow Trout.

Black Bear

Great Places To Experience West Virginia's Beautiful Flora & Fauna

Some of the best ways to view the splendor of our great state is to visit one of the 37 state parks, gorgeous lakes or go hiking along one of the abundant mountain trails.

The Monongahela National Forest is over 1 million acres with 800+ miles of trails. Some fun activities include horseback riding, boating, tubing, rock climbing and of course hunting and fishing.

Summersville Lake offers spectacular views of cliffs and coves. Called “The Little Bahamas of the East”, Summersville Lake is known for having the clearest freshwater east of the Mississippi River. Scuba divers can probe up to 327 feet, and see 20 to 45 feet around them. Newbies to the diving world can go on guided tours from late spring through late summer. The water ranges from 60 to 80 degrees! You can stay in nearby cabins or camp in your RV and visit the only working lighthouse in the state.

Rhododendron in bloom
Rhododendron in bloom

Outdoor Activities to Explore WV

If you are looking for something to do while taking in the magnificent views in WV, there are many activities to choose from.

  • Summersville Lake offers spectacular views of cliffs and coves. Called “The Little Bahamas of the East”, Summersville Lake is known for having the clearest freshwater east of the Mississippi River. Scuba divers can probe up to 327 feet, and see 20 to 45 feet around them. Newbies to the diving world can go on guided tours from late spring through late summer. The water ranges from 60 to 80 degrees! You can stay in nearby cabins or camp in your RV and visit the only working lighthouse in the state.
  • Bungee Jump from the New River Gorge Bridge during the Bridge Day BASE Jumping Festival, held every third Saturday in October. It is the only day when it is legal to jump from the 876 foot tall bridge.
  • The Hatfield-McCoy Trails features more than 600 miles of trails in southern West Virginia. Open daily, it offers one of the largest off road vehicle trail systems in the world. Take your ATV, mountain bike or side-by-side on a wild ride!
  • ACE Adventure Resort is next to the New River Gorge national park. It offers enticements such as mountain biking, whitewater rafting and zip-lining. They even offer a water park for the slightly less adventurous.

Have you ever been to West Virginia?

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Things to Do in West Virginia

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Scenic drive through WV.New River Gorge Bridge. Enjoy a gorgeous drive or bungee jump during Bridge Day.Gorgeous views when hiking.Fish the plentiful streams and lakes.One of the world's largest trail systems for off-roading is the Hatfield & McCoy Trail System.
Scenic drive through WV.
Scenic drive through WV.
New River Gorge Bridge. Enjoy a gorgeous drive or bungee jump during Bridge Day.
New River Gorge Bridge. Enjoy a gorgeous drive or bungee jump during Bridge Day.
Gorgeous views when hiking.
Gorgeous views when hiking.
Fish the plentiful streams and lakes.
Fish the plentiful streams and lakes.
One of the world's largest trail systems for off-roading is the Hatfield & McCoy Trail System.
One of the world's largest trail systems for off-roading is the Hatfield & McCoy Trail System.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

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I hope that I have shown you why the great state of West Virginia is such a wild and wonderful place to be. Please consider coming for a visit, whether just to take a scenic drive or to explore some of the amenities that we have to offer.

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    • Michelle Mollohan profile imageAUTHOR

      Michelle Mollohan 

      4 weeks ago from Looneyville, WV

      Thank you Eman!

    • Emmy ali profile image

      Eman Abdallah Kamel 

      4 weeks ago from Egypt

      This article is very detailed and the place looks so beautiful.

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