If you are looking for a trip that has gorgeous views, a nice winter getaway, and is affordable, West Virginia may be a state that you can put on your list.
It is one of the most rural states, with some of the largest cities having less than 100k residents in the state.
Like any other location, however, you want to keep in mind what the economy is like there, how do locals respond to visitors, and what kind of natural disasters exist.
Warnings & Dangers in West Virginia
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
It is important to know that the risk grade of West Virginia is medium, with both crime and natural disasters being a true risk to those who are traveling to the area. You want to be aware of your surroundings with others and monitor the weather conditions regularly before and during the trip.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Since there are minimal transport and taxis in West Virginia, the safety risk is low. Most travelers get their own transportation for the trip duration so that they can get to their destination.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Keeping in mind that the state has a poor economy and desperate residents, the chances of pickpockets in the big cities or a country store is medium. You want to avoid putting anything in your back pockets and avoid disclosing your wallet when walking around.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
With a mountainous terrain throughout the state, your chances of natural disaster risk are medium in West Virginia. At any time of the year, the state can be prone to flooding, This can happen due to flash flooding or problems with levies and dams throughout the state. Winter storms with excessive ice and snow are also prominent in the state anytime during the winter season.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
The potential for mugging in West Virginia is medium risk. If you are visiting towns like Huntington and Morgantown, you have a higher risk of being mugged than when you are out in the more rural towns.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Although the state is close to Washington D.C., the population is so low in this state that the risk for a terrorist attack is low. It is too rural to make a large enough impact that most terrorist attacks look for during planning.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
The potential to be met by someone with a scam in West Virginia can be a medium risk. If you find yourself stopped somewhere and the store patron is trying to sell you tickets, fare, or even a cheaper lodging room, you have a 50 percent chance of being scammed.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : HIGH
If you are a woman traveling into West Virginia alone, you have a high risk and should be very careful. Unfortunately, because this state is poor with poor residents in even the biggest cities, women often make the easiest of targets for theft crimes.
TAP WATER RISK : HIGH
Keep in mind when you are visiting West Virginia for its views, you should be mindful of the tap water, which has a high-risk grade. In a former mining state, the chances of chemicals in the local tap water are pretty high, especially since water testing is listed pretty low on the priority list. Make sure you pack lots of bottled water on your visit.
Safest Places to Visit in West Virginia
There are some places in West Virginia where hospitality lives and visitors are welcomed.
The safest places to visit include:
- New Martinsville
- Oak Hill
These small towns are found across the state and offer a community that is low in crime.
Residents and travelers alike enjoy visiting these areas where they can shop freely and tour the local areas.
While crime is pretty minimal, violent crime is even lower in these areas, meaning that if you are a victim of a crime here, the chances of violence are very low.
Places to Avoid in West Virginia
If you are traveling to West Virginia soon, there are a few places that you need to avoid so that you do not become another statistic in their crime data.
In these towns, petty theft is pretty common with travelers who are not familiar with the area as the easiest targets.
Residents often have to report items stolen from their property.
In Huntington and Morgantown, the rates for violent crimes tend to increase, with rape being one of the highest in Morgantown.
If you are planning to stop in any of these areas on your trip, make sure you keep your guard up and maintain situational awareness.
Safety Tips for Traveling to West Virginia
As you are planning your next trip that includes West Virginia, there are a few safety tips you need to keep in mind so that you plan properly.
- Stay safe with your transportation. West Virginia is a rural state, so access to public transportation out in the mountains is minimal. You want to make sure that you are not getting scammed or being caught in a sketchy situation when you need to travel long distances. The best way to do that is to either drive your vehicle or get a rental when you fly into the state.
- Let someone know where you are staying. Many of the cabins, chalets, and tiny houses found in the West Virginia mountains are disconnected from the rest of the world. This means that you will be staying somewhere that you may not have cell service, Wi-Fi, or even a landline that allows you to call out long distances. Give your family members the address to your cabin and the rental company name so that they have a way to get in touch with you.
- Carry a satellite phone if you have one. Not all people have one of these lying around, but those who enjoy camping in the backcountry may use this as a backup form of communication. If you have one, you want to make sure you take it and carry a prepaid card just in case you find yourself in an emergency and unable to connect with help.
- Drive slow on the mountain roads. West Virginia can be a hotspot in the winter for skiing, tubing, and other winter activities. If you are planning to head out that way, make sure you drive slow. The curves on the mountain roads can come upon you quickly and sometimes the size of the road can get smaller. You want to be safe when you are traveling to avoid a traffic accident and keep yourself safe.
- Pack an emergency kit. Even if you have attempted to avoid all precautions, you may find yourself lost, stranded due to car troubles, or in an accident. You need to make sure that you have an emergency kit stored away in your vehicle packed with essentials so that you can stay safe until help arrives.
• Warming blankets
• Hand/feet warmers
• Bottled water
• Energy bars
• First aid kit with medical essentials
- Carry spare money on your person. While you may not be out around others on your trip, if you do, you want to keep some spare money tucked away in a sock, money holder, or somewhere on your person in case your bag or wallet is snatched on the trip.
- Make stops in well-lit areas. When you are traveling, you will need to get snacks and fuel. Make sure that the stores and stations you are stopping at are well-lit with other patrons in the area. You want to avoid any stores that look dark or abandoned with no one else around for miles.
- Pack layers of clothing. While it might have been projected to be warm when you got to West Virginia, the weather can change in an instant. Without enough clothes or warm clothing, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation.
- Wear the correct shoes. You also need to make sure that the shoes you are wearing are essential for your trip. If you are planning to do a lot of hiking and traveling on the mountainous trails, you need shoes that will help support your feet and keep you safe when you walk on rocks and uneven areas. Without the right shoes, you could hurt yourself on a trail and put yourself in danger for your health or to the wildlife nearby.
- Be cautious of the wildlife in West Virginia. If you are planning to enjoy the outdoors in West Virginia, you need to prepare yourself for the wildlife that also calls this area home. Black bears, coyotes, and wild swine roam the mountains and can be dangerous if they think you are a threat.
So... How Safe Is West Virginia Really?
West Virginia is not a place to travel alone.
If you are planning to visit West Virginia, you want to make sure that you are traveling in groups.
It can make for a fun mountainous vacation, especially for those who are looking to disconnect from their daily lives.
However, the cities in West Virginia are not always the most friendly with lots of residents who are poor and looking to take advantage of those visiting the area, unaware of the dangers around.
How Does West Virginia Compare?
- Visas - If you are a citizen traveling from another state, you do not need a specific visa to travel to West Virginia. However, if you are traveling from another country, you will need to bring your passport before you travel. If you are planning to stay for an extended time, you may need to apply for and receive the B-1 or B-2 visitor visa, depending on the purpose of your trip.
- Currency - When traveling to West Virginia, you want to bring US Dollars as that is the only currency accepted in the state. You can use any of the major credit cards, checks, or cash for transactions.
- Weather - Because of the swampy terrain and mountains, you can expect some humidity when traveling in West Virginia. The summers can possibly gain a heatwave, while the winter months can see excessive snow and ice, along with freezing temperatures.
- Airports - If you are looking to fly into West Virginia, you can choose one of the following airports that have airline service: • Morgantown • Charleston • Parkersburg • Beckley • Lewisburg • Huntington These are the main airports that accept regional flights. In most cases, those traveling in from connector flights will often fly into Morgantown or Charleston.
- Travel Insurance - Because of the different risks that West Virginia poses, and the fact that natural disasters are possible, it is essential that you book your trip with travel insurance. This will guarantee that you do not lose money on a trip that you are not able to enjoy at no fault of your own.
West Virginia Weather Averages (Temperatures)
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2 Reviews on West Virginia
This state is mostly awful
Literally the ONLY good thing about this state is the quirky college town of Huntington. Charleston is a tweaker ridden dump with run down buildings along the highway, and Beckley is just a food stop. You can get the same mountains elsewhere in the US such as Virginia.
I stayed for a week in Lost City. The people were very welcoming and I felt right at home. The state and national parks are absolutely gorgeous and well maintained. Even the drive to and from them was stunning with all the natural scenery. We visited Black Water Falls, Lost River State Park, Trout Pond, Seneca Rock and Harpers Ferry. It was a great vacation and my wife and I felt very safe. It was also a very affordable vacation. If you are an outdoor enthusiast who loves natural beauty this is the place to be.