Eleven W.Va. state parks will offer eclipse celebrations

1081
Eleven West Virginia state parks will offer eclipse travel programs this month. Photo courtesy NASA.

Eleven West Virginia state park will celebrate the near-total solar eclipse that will darken most of the country the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 21.

Visitors to Beech Fork, Blackwater Falls, Cacapon Resort, Canaan Valley Resort, Hawks Nest, North Bend, Pipestem Resort, Twin Falls Resort and Tygart Lake state parks, Chief Logan Lodge and Cabwaylingo State Forest will be able to enjoy this rare natural occurrence while learning about why it happens.

“Although West Virginia isn’t in the path of totality that stretches from Oregon to South Carolina, we still will experience more than 80 percent obscurity. Some parks will see 90-91 percent obscurity, which is an awesome natural phenomenon,” said Ken Zebo, naturalist and sky watcher at North Bend State Park.

Zebo is known for his STARLab programs in cooperation with NASA IV and nighttime sky watching parties at North Bend.

“What makes this solar occurrence special is the last time a total solar eclipse was visible from coast to coast was almost 100 years ago, on June 8, 1918.”

Beech Fork State Park and Cabwaylingo State Forest, on the western border of West Virginia, are near the path of totality. Beech Fork will experience 90 percent totality, and Cabwaylingo will experience 91 percent darkness, both peaking at 2:34 p.m. The Beech Fork Camper Corner Store will be open with ice cream sales to celebrate the event.

If staying overnight at the lodge, visitors at Blackwater Falls State Park on Aug. 20 or 21 will receive a discount rate of $69 plus applicable taxes. The Blackwater area will experience an 85 percent obscurity at the maximum eclipse at 2:36 p.m. The best area to gather and view is the Nature Center at Pendleton Lake, according to naturalist Paulita Cousin, who says that, in addition to the sun being obscured by the moon, people likely will notice a decrease in wildlife sounds, a temperature change, and a general quieting as the afternoon light dims. For Blackwater Falls activity information or for reservations, call 304-259-5216.

Canaan Valley Resort State Park will permit guests to view the eclipse from the scenic chairlift, which runs daily from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Lift tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for juniors and seniors. The last ticket sale is at 3:45. The view is of Canaan Valley at 4,280 feet above sea level on top of Weiss Knob. Visitors can enjoy walking on the top of the mountain and ride back to the bottom on the lift or hike the Bald Knob Trail to return. Lift tickets are available at Bear Paw Gift Shop at the ski area. For Canaan Valley Scenic Chairlift information, call 304-866-4121 ext. 2616.

Cacapon Resort State Park near Berkeley Springs will experience more than 80 percent obscurity during the eclipse. Park naturalist Logan Rothstein will help visitors learn about and view the solar eclipse from 2 to 2:45 p.m. at the lodge. Proper eclipse glasses will be available for a safe view. Visit the park website or call 304-258-1022 about this and other planned activities scheduled year-round at the park.

Chief Logan Lodge will offer discounts and refreshments during the event, which will have about a 92 percent totality during the solar eclipse.

“That’s about as close to a total eclipse that this West Virginia girl will experience,” said Deidra Pack of Chief Logan Lodge. “It’s unique and all we have to do is go outside wherever we happen to be. I’ll be at the lodge. I hope folks come here and maybe have lunch in the restaurant, stay overnight or enjoy a glass of sweet tea with us.”

Light and dark beverages (lemonade and iced tea or grape juice) will be available in the lodge lobby. Lodge employees recommend arriving around 1 p.m. to watch the occurrence. The maximum obscurity will occur around 2:35. Chief Logan Lodge has a special room rate of $69 per night plus applicable taxes for the nights of Aug. 20 and 21. The rate includes express breakfast. For Chief Logan Lodge information or reservations call 304-855-6100.

Hawks Nest State Park near Ansted welcomes visitors to enjoy the day’s sky event with a two-for-the-price-of-one tram ride on eclipse date, Aug. 21. The aerial tramway, open from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., starts at the lodge tram station and descends 500 feet into the New River Gorge and Hawks Nest marina area. Riders may exit the cars at the marina station to enjoy the lake and setting. A gift shop is located at the tram base station. Trip rates are $7 for adults and $5 for youth ages 5-16 and seniors. Learn more about Hawks Nest Lodge and amenities at www.wvstateparks.com or call 304-658-5212.

North Bend State Park near Cairo will have an Eclipse Party from 1 to 3 p.m.Aug. 21 on the back deck of the lodge and the adjacent lawn. During the three phases of the eclipse, visitors can learn about solar eclipses and the science behind them. Special glasses will be provided so observers can view the phenomenon safely. Outdoor games, crafts and light snacks and drinks will be on the deck of the lodge for the celebration. The Eclipse Party is free and open to the public.

Pipestem Resort State Park near Pipestem offers a Summer Blues Package and Shadow Projection Cards as part of its eclipse celebration.

On Sunday, Aug. 20, the Pipestem Nature Center will be open from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Stop in to learn about the next day’s solar eclipse. When was the last solar eclipse?  When will the next one be?  How can I view the solar eclipse? Sunday visitors may make a pinhole card for use for Monday’s event.

At maximum eclipse at 2:37 p.m. Aug. 21, the moon will obscure 91 percent of the sun. Naturalist Julie McQuade will share a “naturalist” method of viewing a solar eclipse–the pin hole and shadow projection card technique. Visitors may join a short walk from the Nature Center to Gatrell Overlook from 2 to 3 p.m.Parking is available at the Nature Center with limited parking at the overlook. You may want to bring a chair or blanket to sit on. The activity is free and open to the public.

The lodge will have “moon pies” in the lodge lobby Monday from 10 a.m. to noon to celebrate the solar event. Folks can decorate the edges with yellow icing to create a “corona.”

Pipestem also has a mid-week lodge rate of $64.99 on Aug. 13-17 and Aug. 20-24. The Summer Blues package includes overnight lodging at McKeever Lodge, two tram ride tickets and two rounds of miniature golf. The aerial tram transports people down into the Bluestone gorge and across the Bluestone River.

“Some people may want to ride the tram and be in the gorge to experience the ‘almost dark’ time of the eclipse,” McQuade said. “Visitors should bring proper eyewear.”

To learn more about Pipestem Resort State Park, visit www.wvstateparks.comor call 304-466-1800.

Twin Falls Resort State Park near Mullens offers “the best seat in the South” for the solar eclipse at its ballfield. The moon will obscure about 91 percent of the sun with the darkest time occurring at 2:37 p.m.

“The eclipse encourages folks to get outdoors and enjoy the event, but they should remember to wear proper safety glasses,” said Rita McAllister at Twin Falls Lodge “It’s also an opportunity to sit and experience the change in temperature and sounds of nature.”

Twin Falls will feature a “DARK” rate special for room rentals Aug. 20 and 21. To learn more about Twin Fall State Park, visit www.wvstateparks.com or call Twin Falls at 304-294-4000.

Tygart Lake State Park Lodge has a discounted “DARK” rate of $69 for overnight stays Aug. 20 and 21. The sun will be obscured by about 84 percent at the Grafton location. For information about Tygart Lake State Park interpretative activities and information call 304-265-6144.