Guest blog and photos by Samantha Johnson
We have always loved coming to the southern part of West Virginia, even before we had kids. We came for our honeymoon and celebrated with a whitewater rafting trip on the New River! We come back as often as we can to share this beauty with our children. Aiden, Rebecca, and Kaelynn love playing in the river and when they are big enough they want to go rafting, “just like mom and dad did”.
Our younger kids are 4, 7 & 8 years old. Since we’re homeschooling this year, we were really aware of the kids’ abilities to soak in information if it coincided with something they were doing. It was such a beautiful time of year, we spent a lot of time outside which meant we had a daily science and history classes since they learned about the natural environment, wildlife, weather, astronomy, railroads, dams, coal, and mountains. With all the hiking, swimming, and playing - we think PE was covered as well.
During our trip, we went exploring almost every day. We went to Bluestone Dam and hiked around Bluestone Lake and saw great blue herons, deer, and frogs. We read about the building of the dam and the construction happening now. The kids were really impressed with the enormity of the dam and how that made a lake where everyone can enjoy the water.
We spent a day at Lost World Caverns. Aiden loved the Dinosaur Museum. Rebecca and Kaelynn loved looking at all the polished gemstones. We all loved our tour through the cavern, learning about stalactites and stalagmites . Afterwards, we enjoyed looking at the nearby pastures and seeing the horses. We’ve added horseback riding to our bucket list for next time.
We all had so much fun at Sandstone Falls, we didn’t want to go anywhere else! We walked along the boardwalk to see the falls and spent some time there just looking around. We even saw a bald eagle fly overhead!
On our way back to the car, we detoured on one of the marked paths and found this swimming hole. The kids loved playing in the waterfalls and watching the fish. Only a promise to come back the next day convinced them it was time to go eat dinner and settle in for the night.
Since we were on vacation, we let them stay up past their usual bedtime. They weren’t interested in watching TV, instead they wanted to stay outside. They were amazed at how many stars they can see at night – way more than at home. We’re pretty sure we saw the Big Dipper and we know we saw Orion and we found out that the bright star in the sky was actually Jupiter!
I highly recommend Summers County as a perfect vacation spot for anyone with school-aged kids. Mine enjoyed the fresh air, clean water, and big sky. They all agreed it was “the best vacation ever!” and we can’t wait to come back. We usually vacation in the summer, but since our schedule is more flexible this year, we’re considering a winter trip to try snow tubing, winter hiking, and seeing the mountains at a different time of year.