ContactSeneca Rocks Visitor Center
P.O. Box 13
Seneca Rocks, WV 26884
(304) 567-2827 (daily, except winter)
Potomac Ranger Station
SnapshotSpruce Knob Rocks National Recreation Area, Pendleton County, east West Virginia
Spruce Knob, West Virginia, 4,863 feet
That's me by the observation tower.
Note: The tower is closed in summer of 2000 for repairs. Read more.
Yes, my SUV made it to the summit.
The Land of the Whispering One Sided Spruce
We exited from Interstate 81 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and drove north on U.S. 33 approximately 50 miles to Franklin, the Pendleton County seat. About half of the route was quite twisty and turny and quite spectacular as we wound our way through mountains that just slightly past peak fall color.
The Allegheny Mountains have an alpine feel as the colorful mountain rose seemingly straight up and were topped by the gray capped peaks (nearby Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area with its 1,000 foot drops is one of the most popular destinations for rock climbers). I felt like singing "Country Roads -- West Virginia" by John Denver who had died in a plane crash only the week before.
The people in the area seemed extraordinarily friendly. When I asked directions from a woman at Brandywine, WV, she not only gave me directions but also went out literally on the highway to get another woman to confirm them!
About 15 miles outside of Franklin we took the narrow and partly paved and mostly gravel road to the summit which on this day had a definite alpine feel -- the wind was blowing relatively hard, the clear weather down below had given way to thick fog and it felt perhaps as much as 10 degrees cooler.
Signs on the summit note that this indeed does have a "Canadian arboreal" climate. The winds are so strong the spruces only have limbs on one side -- hence the nickname of "The Land of the Whispering One Side Spruce." Temperatures can drop to 20 below up here and winds blow 100 m.p.h.
Although it was not a day for viewing panoramas, we ran into six other people visiting. A short (1/4 mile) trailer leads from the paved parking lot to the summit observation tower. We had driven 450 miles from Times Square in New York City to get to this point. We drove back through more twisty turny mountain roads on Highway 28 South before returning on Interstate 81 at Staunton, VA, via U.S. 250.