BERKELEY SPRINGS, WV (LOOTPRESS) — Members of the West Virginia Legislature’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Subcommittee stepped outside their usual meeting rooms in Charleston recently for an on-site visit to Cacapon Resort State Park near Berkeley Springs.
The 6,115-acre state park is one of West Virginia’s oldest. It was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1937 on land that had previously been many small farms that died out during the Great Depression. Several rounds of development and revitalization have occurred over the years, with ongoing renovations and construction as a result of recent appropriations from the Legislature.
Lawmakers stayed overnight Sept. 26 at the recently renovated 78-room lodge, which received $30 million in upgrades, but the restored Old Inn still provides cabins for even more lodging options. Many original pieces of the park have been preserved, while new construction and renovations have blended seamlessly with the natural patinas of the park, staying true to its character.
Attendance has steadily climbed from roughly 200,000 in Fiscal Year 2018 to nearly 280,000 in Fiscal Year 2021, and occupancies also rose in that time period with cabin occupancy seeing the biggest jump, from 58 percent in Fiscal Year 2018 to 76 percent in Fiscal Year 2021.
Other additions have come as a result of donations and private partnerships, such as a new mountain bike trailhead that got a boost from a local Eagle Scout Project. A dog park currently under construction have received foundation funding as well as hotel-motel tax money and will be the first dog park in the West Virginia State Parks system.
Nine TENTRR campsites on Cacapon Mountain, billed as “glamping” sites that provide a raised platform, canvas tent, mattress and small gas-powered heater are completely funded and maintained by the company. Lawmakers were able to step inside the tents and take in the scenic overlooks.
“If there’s anything positive that’s come out of the pandemic, folks have learned more about West Virginia,” said Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson and co-chairman of the Parks Subcommittee. “As they’ve tried to get out of some of the more populated areas, they’ve found West Virginia to be a welcoming place to visit.” Lawmakers also interacted with guests at Cacapon, and Delegate Ruth Rowan, R-Hampshire, echoed Espinosa’s thoughts.
Other tours included a sunrise hike on the 5k cross country course with West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Director Steve McDaniel, a visit to the nature center and a tour of the Healing Waters Spa.
Members of the subcommittee will visit Hawks Nest State Park this week and plan to do more visits in the spring.