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Old 07-01-2015, 02:38 PM
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I'm making a trip from Louisville to DC pretty soon and once I get into WV, I'm trying to figure out which interstates to take. The two options seem to be 64 -> 81 -> 66 OR 79 -> 68 -> 70. Both routes are about the same time/miles so I don't care too much in that regard. I want to know which route is more scenic. Obviously this is subjective but what do y'all think? I really like mountains personally.

Also, I don't use this website very often so sorry if my etiquette is not up to par.
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Old 07-01-2015, 03:05 PM
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They both have some beautiful scenery; I don't think you can go wrong. The best mountain scenery, IMO, is between Weston and Sutton on I-79, Western Maryland on I-68, and I-64 past Lewisburg. I would probably go with 64 to 81 to 66. If you have the time, take 64 to 79 and get off at the Weston/Buckhannon/US 33 exit to take US 33/US 48 through some of the best mountain scenery in the state. About 2/3 of that route is highway, so you shouldn't lose too much time (probably an hour or so), and it eventually connects to I-81/I-66 at Strasburg.

Do you have any time to sight see? That might factor into your choice, too.
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Old 07-01-2015, 03:15 PM
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I have time to make stops on the way back, but little money for lodging or activities. What did you have in mind?
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Old 07-01-2015, 07:54 PM
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I go from Louisville to Philly a few ways through WV. Both ways have some really gorgeous scenery and the roads are relatively low traffic and are easy drives.
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Old 07-02-2015, 07:33 AM
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If you have some time but not much money to spend...any or all of these would be worth a visit:

Either route: I'll always advocate for a stop in Huntington as I live here. Wonderful little city that's home to Marshall University. If you want a unique dining experience, take WV 2 just north of the city to Lesage and find Hillbilly Hotdogs. You won't be sorry. Another cool spot along the way is in South Charleston, where there is a Native American burial mound. Also, when you get to Charleston, swing by the Capitol. If you have 20-30 extra minutes, you can stop at the adjacent state museum, which was renovated a few years ago, if you want to learn a ton about the state.

64-79-68: There's a lot of dead space on 79. Pretty, but not too much until you get around Weston. There you'll find the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum (HISTORY AND HERITAGE TRAVEL IN WEST VIRGINIA TRANS-ALLEGHENY LUNATIC ASYLUM), the old state hospital touted as the most haunted place in WV (along with the State Penitentiary in Moundsville). After that, you'll hit Clarksburg, Bridgeport, and then Fairmont, which are medium-sized towns/cities (for our state) that have fair amounts of history and culture. Stop by the Country Club bakery in Fairmont to get the de facto state food, a pepperoni roll. Having one of those is a must, wherever you are in the state. After that is Morgantown, home to West Virginia University and always worth a visit. Once you get on 68, you could stop at Coopers Rock State Forest, which has great trails, large rocks upon which you can walk/climb, and an absolutely breathtaking overlook perched atop a large boulder. If you take this route, that's probably a definite stop if you love the outdoors. After you get into Maryland, I'm not much help. Cumberland has some history, especially with the railroad, as does Hagerstown and Frederick in Maryland. You could take a little detour from Frederick and swing by Harpers Ferry, WV, which was the site of a John Brown raid on a US Armory and has some good hiking with views of the town and the rivers (Potomac and Shenandoah).

64-81-66: After Charleston, you'll be taking the WV Turnpike, which doesn't cost any money to get on and off if you find places you want to stop before you get to Beckley (you likely won't). You'll go through two tolls before you get off the Turnpike, and that's only $4 total. Beckley has a lot of coal tradition, but is itself not a coal town. It is/was the center of commerce for the coalfields in that area so at one time had a great deal of stuff. If you want to learn about the coal heritage in WV, a stop at the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine and museum would be your best bet (City of Beckley). After Beckley, you can take the exit for Sandstone/Hinton and stop and see Sandstone Falls on the New River. You could take a short trip down to Hinton, too, if you feel like it. After that, the last two stops in WV worth checking out would be Lewisburg and White Sulphur Springs. Definitely stop in Lewisburg to check out one of the coolest small towns in the state. It even has its own Carnegie Hall. And White Sulphur Springs is home to the Greenbrier, billed as "America's Resort." That's home to the Greenbrier Classic PGA event this weekend, the New Orleans Saints training camp (as well as hosting the Patriots for a couple weeks this summer), a gorgeous resort, and a once-secret bunker built to house Congress in the event of a nuclear attack during the Cold War (The Greenbrier - The Bunker at The Greenbrier). After you get to Virginia, again, I'm not much help.

Other routes you could take...

64-US 60-64-81-66: This takes a detour on US 60 from Charleston to I-64 between Beckley and Lewisburg. You would miss Beckley and add about a half hour to an hour on your trip, but you would follow along the Kanawha River and see places like Kanawha Falls in Glen Ferris, Hawks Nest (like Coopers Rock, a wonderful overlook), and, if you took a detour from Hawks Nest back to WV 16, you could see the other cool little town of Fayetteville and can take a trip across (and then over to an overlook) of the most iconic sight in WV: the New River Gorge and the New River Gorge Bridge.

64-79-US 33/48-66: This takes a detour from Weston through Buckhannon (home of WV Wesleyan College) to Elkins. Elkins has a lot of history with the timber industry and the railroad, as former senators, who were father and son-in-law, Henry Gassaway Davis and Stephen Elkins, brought the railroad path through here (and after which the local college, Davis & Elkins, is named). From there you would take US 219 north through Parsons to Thomas. This is a old, small, timber town with a few streets, yet has some of the best restaurants and shops around (Escapes: Its population may be tiny, but Thomas, W.Va., is popping - The Washington Post). After Thomas is Davis, home to the Mountain State Brewing Company and another timber town. If you want some more natural scenery, just south of here is Canaan Valley State Park and Blackwater Falls State Park, which shouldn't be missed. Anyway, from Davis, WV 93 will take you to US 48, or Corridor H, which goes through some of the most gorgeous terrain in the state. It'll turn back into a two lane road at Wardensville, but you'll only be a few miles from the VA border and I-81/66 after that.

There's so much to see in the state, so you can't go wrong with any route. The problem would be paring down what to do to fit your schedule. If your #1 goal is seeing mountains, but want to see some other iconic sites, I would take one of the detour routes of 64-US 60-64-81-66 or 64-79-US 33/48-66.

Driving routes from Louisville to DC (as per Google, and obviously without stops or traffic):
64-79-68 - 8:43, 603 miles
64-81-66 - 9:17, 624 miles
US 60 Detour, with Fayetteville included - 9:38, 614 miles
US 48 Detour, with Blackwater Falls - 9:06, 590 miles
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Old 07-02-2015, 08:26 AM
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To be honest I think I-68 has an edge in scenic drama (although you're driving in MD, much of what you see is actually WV ) compared to I-64.

The sharp curve at the base of the Allegheny Front into Cumberland, that tiny oasis of urbanity, is unique, and what you see to the right across the North Branch Potomac River is Ridgeley, WV, which the passenger can verify by seeing the WV welcome sign on the crossroad bridge. (The driver will be paying too much attention to the road at this point.)

Repeated up-down crossings of ridges east from Cumberland to Hancock offer sweeping three-state views even to the driver. Unfortunately the Sideling Hill exhibit center closed although the rest area is still there. The road cut through Sideling Hill is less impressive to those familiar with the King Coal Highway but you'd have to be pretty determined to put that on your route.

If it's a round trip, you could go both ways. If taking 64 on the return and you still have room for souvenirs you could stock up with whatzits whatnots at Tamarack - Home which is in the median of I-64/77 near Beckley, not requiring a full exit from the highway.
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Old 07-02-2015, 12:36 PM
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Thank you elewis7! I really appreciate the effort in your post. You've been helpful. I think I'm going to take the detour on 48/33. If I have time to visit somewhere, I'll keep your locations in mind.
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Old 07-02-2015, 09:10 PM
Location: Elkins, WV
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Originally Posted by elongatedmuffin View Post
Thank you elewis7! I really appreciate the effort in your post. You've been helpful. I think I'm going to take the detour on 48/33. If I have time to visit somewhere, I'll keep your locations in mind.
The Lewis, Upshur, and Randolph County Visitor Bureaus have put together a 33 things to do on 33 collection. The listed ideas start in Lewis near Weston and ends in Randolph near Elkins. You may give these a look.

33 Things To Do On 33
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Old 07-02-2015, 09:53 PM
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If you're sticking to the Interstates, definitely the best route in my opinion is I-64 to I-79 to I-68. Although there isn't much in the way of amenities between Charleston and Sutton on I-79, once you get to Sutton you have nice amenities along the way and the mountain scenery on I-68 is wonderful.
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